COLUMBUS, Ohio — As his senior year gets underway, James Nelson, the talented starting quarterback for the Bexley High Lions, has set his sights on making it to and further exacerbating his already degenerative brain injuries in the National Football League.
While injuries in high school football have always been common, their severity and frequency has come into the national spotlight as the erratic behavior of some NFL players has been linked to the degenerative brain disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE.
Despite the risks associated with playing, a majority of young athletes including Nelson have not let that discourage their involvement.
“I love the game and, hell, I’d be happy getting CTE in my spare time just as a hobby,” Nelson said during the only break in his three-hour after school practice. “But the dream has always been to get paid for it.”
“I’m aware of the risks and just think the benefits outweigh them,” Nelson said while casually checking his left guard’s pupils. “Brain damage is a small price to pay for the chance to be a role model for younger players.”
Nelson is not the only one confident about his potential. His teammates, family and especially coaches are convinced Nelson’s rise to the professional ranks is inevitable.
“If anyone has the chance to make it in the big league it’s Jimmy,” reported Lions head coach Ron Spooner. “He started getting concussions at 12 and he’s still out there every day in full pads.”
When asked about whether or not the he was concerned about the irreversible damage football can cause Spooner appeared unalarmed.
“Listen, I played for over a decade and I turned out fine,” Spooner stated before abruptly throwing his clipboard and shouting a string of expletives at a water boy.
Joshua Ballew played football in middle school but had to quit due to a fractured ego.
Image by Flickr.