The average life expectancy or lifespan of an American football NFL player has been reported to be extremely low, only 53 to 59 years depending on playing position. However, a 2012 study reported that retired NFL players have a lower death rate than men in the general population. An oft-cited life expectancy of 58 years has been claimed by Sports Illustrated to be based on a myth. According to a 2007 study, which also claims that little supporting data is available, retired American football players had “long and fulfilling careers with no apparent long-term detrimental effects on physical or mental health scores despite a high prevalence of arthritis”. One explanation is that “life expectancy” is ambiguous: it may in some contexts refer to the expected age of death of a player, and in other contexts to the expected remaining number of life years.
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