BY NEIL SKJOLDAL
The New York Times recently published a lengthy article on Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, a former NFL player who died at age 30 after playing football for half his life.
With all the recent information about the dangers of football-related head trauma, it is not surprising to learn that upon his death, Te’o-Nesheim’s family donated his brain to the Boston University CTE center, where it was found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The Times article states that Te’o-Nesheim had suffered approximately 100 concussions. His is another tragic story of someone who dies much too early, in part because CTE drove him to erratic behavior.
The Times article also details Te’o-Nesheim’s other football related injuries. According to his attorney, Sam Katz, an orthopedist told him that “he had one of the worst cases of degenerative arthritis in his ankles that he had ever seen. He also found damaged knees and shoulders, pinched nerves in his neck, and a tendon tear in his biceps.”
What is particularly troubling about this situation is that a day after his death, the NFL denied his earlier claim for “line of duty” benefits, where his attorney had listed all of his ailments and injuries from playing football. According to The Times, his claims were denied because“his injuries were not severe and numerous enough.” His family contested the denial, and months later they were finally awarded $17,500 posthumously.
While denying people benefits the first time around might seem to be best practices within a ‘for-profit’ business model, it hardly seems like it addresses the much more important issue of promoting the health and wellness of the patient. This seems especially true in this case, as a former employee who used the means available to him to ask for assistance for injuries that obviously were a result from his employment within the NFL.
It is cases like Te’o-Nesheim’s that makes me think that bioethics should speak clearly not only to those who provide frontline care, but also to the business side of the equation.