I guess I have a lot to say and my pride won't let this get buried in the comments.
In the brain injury article comments Chris wrote:
The thing is, how much should we really be bothered by it for players today? This should be a situation considered much like smoking. No one knew about this before. Now we do. There should be warnings, but largely these guys know what they're getting themselves into. They're being paid millions of dollars to sacrifice their bodies and make names for themselves. Even the low men on the totem pole make more than 5x the average salary in the US.
But really, it isn't as simple as slapping a warning on a sport for a number of reasons. If it were then safety really wouldn't be a consideration at all, beyond whatever minimum teams decided were necessary to protect their investments. While our society considers the individual supreme, it is also balanced against reasonable regulation. We do not allow reckless endangerment to oneself. Masking that endangerment in a sporting activity does not make it any more legal, even if society somehow finds it more acceptable.
Arguing that the monetary reward for self-destruction is sufficient is ... well, subjective, to say the least. Given enough money we could find people to attempt anything. How about a $50 million duel to the death? I guarantee the line would be out the door.
Laws regarding workplace safety make no distinction for compensation. We don't typically condone the high mortality rate of coal miners because they make so much more than shopkeepers, but instead demand as stringent health and safety measures possible without crippling the industry.
Furthermore, if football is inherently dangerous then we are guilty of exposing minors to unnecessary risk. Football players don't spring wholly formed at the age of consent to embark on a college [sic] career with NFL dreams. They play pee wee and junior high and high school football. At what point do bodily collisions begin to have a deleterious impact? 50 pound collisions? 100 pound collisions? Their consent to play lies with their parents, not with them, and typically big time football players don't come from backgrounds of the greatest education and worldly wisdom. By the time these kids reach the age of consent they are completely programmed.
I love football, and am certainly not arguing it has no place. But this is the real world and these are real world considerations.