There appears to be exaggeration that NFL players have a life expectancy of around 55 years, a full 21 years sooner than the average US man. The reports are alarming to say the least, and possibly misleading when you look at life spans of players from recent decades: men who played with less protective gear, less concern for head injuries and fewer rules dedicated to player's safety.
Extreme events have brought the issue center stage. Was obesity a factor in the death of 27 year old, 355 lb Korey Stringer, an offensive lineman for the Vikings who died following a heat stroke during summer practices? Or what about Hall of Famer Reggie White, who was just 43 and died of cardiac arrhythmia? Those tragedies and others got people's attention. Many articles make startling claims that life expectancy for NFL players is around 51 to 58. If you dig at all, quotes such as these are readily available:
"...men who play five or more years in the NFL have a life expectancy of 55... For linemen, perhaps due to their size, the life expectancy is 52." -http://www.nowpublic.com/sports/average-lifespan-football-player-52
"...a violent sport characterized by startling low life-expectancy rates, depending on playing position, of 53 to 59." -http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/New-NFL-goal-A-longer-life-1272886.php
"While U.S. life expectancy is 77.6 years, recent studies suggest the average for NFL players is 55, 52 for linemen." -http://www.sptimes.com/2006/01/29/Sports/A_huge_problem.shtml
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