Longer career length and playing specific positions put NFL players at greater risk of developing cognitive problems and mental health issues. Playing for 10 or more seasons increased the risks for depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment twice as much than those who played for a single season. For every five seasons of play, the risks increase 20% for cognitive impairment. Those most at risk are running backs, linebackers and those who played special teams positions.
Using data from replacement players who entered into the NFL when professionals went on strike in 1987, researchers evaluate player mortality and overall health. The findings, researchers report, may help to make the game safer for current football players.