Niagara Gazette

Columns

November 15, 2013

HAMILTON: Purple Alzheimer's and black NFL players

Niagara Gazette — Thousands of retired professional National Football League players will receive a $765 million settlement for head injuries suffered during their years on the gridiron. Last month, current players were wearing the color pink to raise the level of awareness for breast cancer.

With what Business Insider reports as only 8 percent of the profits from the National Football League’s Pink Campaign going to the American Cancer Society for breast cancer research and cure, many critics wonder if the mega ‘nine-billion dollars in revenues’ NFL is actually doing more for the cure of cancer or more for their own bottom lines.

To me, it doesn’t matter. With a reported $4.5-million going to the cancer society, I am sure that it is much appreciated and will do some good. After all, the NFL is not a charity, and charity begins at home, not in the stadium. Here is no question that the awareness to breast cancer that pink-clad, 360-pound linemen brings to the public helps in other ways, too.

But of great irony to me is that with a very low, if any at all, breast cancer rate within their own professional players’ ranks, it makes me wonder why then has the NFL, and other sports teams where brain injuries are likely to occur, have done, in my humble opinion, little to raise the awareness of brain diseases.

I ask this because November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and the only NFL team of which I am aware that will be wearing the Alzheimer purple is the Minnesota Vikings; but they were going to bearing it anyway.

The web site Breastcancer.org reports that about 39,620 women in the U.S. were expected to die in 2013 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989.

Alz.org, the National Alzheimer’s Association’s web site, reports that data from the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says that twice as many, 83,494, people died from Alzheimer’s disease in 2010, which was the last current year of statistics. Even then, it is largely believed that the disease is under reported.

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