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Latest evaluation debunks myth: NFL players don’t live longer, especially linemen

In a recent study published within the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers examined the association between longevity and a career playing American football while using comparative groups that were similar in health, educational levels, socioeconomic aspects, and race and evaluating the differences within the association based on the position of the player.

Study: The association between playing skilled American football and longevity. Image Credit: Created with the help of DALL·E 3


Although there have been quite a few conducted on the neuropsychological problems in American football players resulting from traumatic brain injuries, a big body of research suggests that American football players live longer than average American men. Nevertheless, given that the majority skilled football players often require three years of school education and are elite athletes with high salaries, these findings won’t be as surprising since these socioeconomic aspects strongly influence longevity and health.

Moreover, many of the evidence on this association comes from studies where the mortality outcomes of American football players have been compared with those of American men normally, who are usually not similar in features of fitness, socioeconomic aspects, or education. Moreover, the predominance of a particular race in American football could also influence the findings based on racial disparities in mortality rates. Longevity amongst football players can be depending on the position of the player, with defense and offense linemen being exposed to the next risk of heart problems and traumatic encephalopathy.

In regards to the study

In the current study, the researchers examined the reported association between longevity and American football players from the comparative perspective of American men with similar educational levels, health, socioeconomic characteristics, and racial group membership. Additionally they evaluated the differences within the association based on the player position and hypothesized that linemen would have reduced longevity in comparison with players in other positions.

The researchers conducted two complimentary analyses to check the 2 hypotheses. Using the USA (U.S.) National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data they compared the longevity of American football players with that of the overall population of men within the U.S. The evaluation was then repeated for a subsample of men that were comparable along aspects equivalent to educational levels, race and ethnicity, health, and socioeconomic aspects.

The Pro-Football Archives provided information on football players, and for the primary evaluation, the researchers chosen first-year football players between the ages of 21 and 25 who played between 1988 and 1995. The NHIS data was used to pick out the comparative group, including the subgroup that consisted of men with similar educational attainment, income, race and ethnicity, and employment status. The exposure was a number of skilled football games, with the mortality risk inside 25 years being the examined final result.

For the second evaluation, they compared the longevity of skilled football players to athletes who were drafted to play American football but didn’t play professionally. They considered all the boys drafted to play within the National Football League (NFL) between 1950 and 1959 and obtained details about their football careers,  the yr of drafting, the team and position of the player, and the variety of games played. For the individuals who were drafted but never played a game, the knowledge on their birth and death was obtained through a comprehensive search of the news archives.


The outcomes reported that football players who played within the position of offense or defense linemen had an overall shorter life expectancy as in comparison with football players who played in other positions, in addition to American men normally who had similar educational, socioeconomic, and health status, and were of comparable race and ethnicity.

The second evaluation found that in comparison with men drafted for the lineman position for the NFL but never played knowledgeable game, those drafted as linemen and played a minimum of one game died, on average, two years earlier. The findings highlight the necessity for similar comparison groups while analyzing the life expectancy of football players since men who play football professionally belong to a particular group based on education level, socioeconomic status, health, and racial membership, all of that are aspects that influence longevity.


To summarize, the study examined the reported association between longevity and knowledgeable profession in American football through a reanalysis using appropriate comparative groups that were similar in socioeconomic aspects, educational levels, health, and race. The general findings suggested that while no positive association was observed between knowledgeable football profession and longevity, lineman players have a relatively shorter lifespan in comparison with similar American men and football players who played in other positions.

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