Already aware of the damage that football places on the body, former Cincinnati Bengals guard retired from the NFL last week citing Junior Seau's shocking suicide. Bell ditched the $890,000 contract that he signed last month, deciding to bring awareness towards younger players about the toll football takes. Speaking with NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, Bell is starting to promote awareness regarding the physical damage players take, but more specifically the lasting damage of concussions.
"It's a blessing to be able to retire and walk away on my own instead of being forced out of it," Bell said. "Think about what the guys are going through. Everybody wants to make the money, but what are you really sacrificing? If they tell you we're going to take your brain and whack it with a baseball bat, but we'll give you a couple million bucks, how many people would really do that? ... I compare us to modern-day gladiators. We're giving our lives to the game of football for a price."
Bell offered three things that could help the league, ranging from awareness starting at the rookie symposium, brain scans before players start their NFL careers to the involvement of psychologists within a player's education.
Bell believes activities to increase brain function would help -- puzzles, learning a language, taking vitamins. But, as he said, "It would really help to have a personal relationship with a doctor. ... The reality is, it's a traumatic experience for your brain when you're playing the game of football. But we can definitely help these players.
We feel that the problem will always be one of mortality, in this context. Older players feel the lasting affects after playing the sport for some time while younger players will always enter the NFL with a sense of invincibility. Grabbing their attention while their young might work. Regardless, good for Bell to step up and reach out.