Concussions and domestic violence are two of the biggest problems confronting the NFL, and the issues may actually be linked to each other. The latest episode of HBO's Real Sports examines why scientists studying the brains of deceased NFL players say head trauma can lead to a loss of control.
One case study is former Chargers safety Paul Oliver. He had no history of domestic violence until after he sustained three significant concussions in the NFL. Then his behavior began to change, his widow, Chelsea Oliver, told Real Sports. He became violent and abusive. Last year, Oliver shot himself in the head in front of Chelsea and their two young sons.
Tests revealed that Oliver's brain was in an advanced state of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), the degenerative disease associated with head trauma.
After being embarrassed in the Ray Rice debacle, the NFL scrambled to institute a policy on how it would punish players who committed domestic violence. But if a leading cause of domestic violence is the brain damage being found in more and more NFL players, the league will need to approach the issue from a whole new perspective. Adding educational programs to prevent domestic violence is great, but how much can it help someone whose brain is too scrambled to process the information?
Oliver's story is part of the episode that premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Here's a preview: