Re-negotiating the collective bargaining agreement is a major focus of both the NFL owners and the NFLPA but without healthy players the formula for splitting up the pie is a huge but ultimately secondary issue.
Head trauma leading to potential brain injury, drug abuse both performance enhancing and narcotic pain relievers and a dignified and fair policy to address the on-going medical issues of disabled and/or retired players are the 3 greatest medical issues facing the NFL and NFLPA.
The NFL has made significant strides to make the game safer on the field but still has a long way to go. Until the culture can be changed regarding intentional blows to the head the brain injuries will continue to mount.
Football is a fast-paced, violent and often brutal game on any level and the NFL is clearly where the best of the best perform. But the accumulation of blows to the head has the potential to kill the 'golden goose'. Research is clearly revealing that it is not merely the devastating, ESPN Top 10 'de-cleater' that causes brain injury but also all of the routine head knocks that are 'just part of the game'.
A 'clean blow' (as evidenced by TJ Ward of the Browns blow to Cincy's Jordan Shipley in week 4) intentionally delivered to the head cannot be allowed to continue if football is to survive.
How many brain damaged young men will it take before a third party most likely the federal government steps in? And that is a remedy that may be worse than the disease.
Performance enhancing drugs (PED"s) will either require legalization (to some degree) or year round, random, Olympic style testing that includes blood to be properly evaluated and enforced. Anything less is merely window dressing.
Abuse of narcotic pain killers is a monster that has not even begun to be addressed in any meaningful way. If you think PED's are an issue narcotic pain medicine abuse will shock you. It is much, much worse.
Amateur football builds character; professional football and the years that it took to get there destroy bodies. At some point every NFL'er retires and must deal with the physical toll of the grid iron.
Why must they do so without access to adequate medical resources and dignity?