Outside the Lines on ESPN interviewed Dr. Robert Cantu after he made public his stance on the issue of youth sports. I have embedded the video from ESPN via YouTube.
I would like to highlight not only Dr. Cantu’s take but also a VERY GOOD journalist that has covered concussions, Peter Keeting at the back end of the video.
In the accompanying story by Ian O’Connor of ESPNNewYork, Harry Carson believes that the state of football and its aftermath may be similar to playing Russian Roulette;
Carson played through all of his undiagnosed concussions, if only because that’s what NFL players did in the ’80s. He knew something was wrong when he struggled with his vocabulary during interviews, a problem that inspired him to secretly listen to language tapes on his drives home from practice in the hope, he said, “of retraining my brain.”
Carson was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome in 1990, and he does what he can to manage the pain. He can wake up with headaches that last all day and that leave him sensitive to noise and bright lights.
But Carson hasn’t had any hip or knee replacements. He works out regularly and holds functional conversations. In other words, Carson counts himself among the lucky ones.
As an advocate for retired players, Carson knows the horror stories of Mike Webster, John Mackey, Andre Waters, Dave Duerson and Terry Long. He finds it hard to watch the great Earl Campbell, now a broken man in a wheelchair. He is troubled by the tales of oft-concussed Jets receivers Wayne Chrebet and Al Toon, and by the daily agony that consumes another ex-Jet, Wesley Walker.
Some days Chrebet struggles to get out of bed or to find his way home in his car without a navigational system. A few years ago, Walker told me he often woke up in the middle of the night and prayed to God to make his searing pain go away. Years of pounding had left him a surgical mess: Walker had severe damage to his spine and 14 screws and a plate inserted in his neck.
“If I knew then what I know now,” he said, “I don’t think I would’ve even played football.”
He sent me a recent message saying he’s still fighting chronic pain and enduring sleepless nights, and none of this surprises Carson a bit.
“For the most part you’re playing Russian roulette when you play football,” he said, “and it just takes one play for your body to never be the same. Look at the kid from Buffalo, Kevin Everett, or the kid at Rutgers [Eric LeGrand].
OTL has previously ran stories about football in this one they take on the future of football;