I remember the anguish that punctured my thoughts when Junior Seau, a star in his own right on the gridiron, placed a handgun to his chest and took his own life eight months ago at his California home. Sitting in my room, I sunk into my chair and spoke no words for more than an hour while giving all I could to refrain from shedding any tears. His death struck me in an unforgettable way that positioned myself, once again, at a crossroads with football and its place in our culture infatuated with the image of the modern-day gladiator.
On May 3, 2012, the day after Seau’s suicide, I scrambled for answers with the shadows of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) looking over my back. I ran a number of searches in Google’s archives for newspaper articles from the 1990s to find some sort of explanation for his actions, but rarely was Seau’s name mentioned directly in relation to a head injury. Although my efforts were rather premature and assuming, there had to be some sort of correlation between Seau’s noted altercations behind closed doors with the thousands of hits his brain endured over the course of a 19-year professional career.
There are, of course, many different storylines that people turn to to explain something so tragic immediately after its occurrence, but confirmation of my original hypothesis (shared by many, I’m sure) by the National Institute of Health several days ago left me in an inexplicable state of unsettled anxiety. Though I inferred Seau would be diagnosed postmortem with CTE, my response to the official announcement was still along the lines of, “Unbelievable.” Continue reading
Interviewer: Is there any evidence, as far as you’re concerned, that links multiple head injuries among pro football players with depression?
Interviewer: With dementia?
Interviewer: With early onset of Alzheimer’s?
Interviewer: Is there any evidence as of today that links multiple head injuries with any long-term problem like that?
Casson: In NFL players?
The above is not a made up story, in fact it is on video for everyone to see and make their own judgements. Patrick Hruby of Yahoo! Sports and “The Post Game.” has written yet ANOTHER very good article about concussions. This one delves into the hot water the NFL is finding itself in; if not in court then in public opinion – if anyone cares to look at the information. Continue reading
Comments like these trickle down to the lower levels, either because the youth look up to players or their comments make ‘sense’ to them as football players;
“If I have a concussion these days, I’m going to say something happened to my toe or knee just to get my bearings for a few plays,” he told HBO’s Andrea Kremer during an interview for Real Sports. “I’m not going to sit in there and say I got a concussion, I can’t go in there the rest of the game.”
The above is attributed to all-pro linebacker Brian Urlacher and may be a popular/majority sentiment within the NFL locker room. Brace yourself for the upcoming rant…
As professional athletes and adults I don’t think that players are exactly wrong in having these feelings, heck it is their job. Given all the information about the lasting effects of all injuries and concussions players assume the risk. That being said if they choose to abide by such comments these players should not be filing law suits after the fact.
The real issue is that comments like Urlacher’s Continue reading
In last week’s preseason game between the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh acted in a way that opened the doors yet again to the debate regarding illegal hits in the National Football League. A conversation that was fueled by contrasting opinions sparked uproar in the football community, in relation to the professional establishments themselves as well as the game’s followers, revived itself at the sight of Suh’s withholding of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton’s head in his chest, and tearing him to the ground as the quarterback’s helmet snapped off of his body. Where most defensive players would say they witnessed a play that should be applauded for its fearsome nature, others may say that Suh’s pursuit and finishing of Dalton would be clear and deserving of punishment. From my own perspective, I viewed an act that steps too close for comfort upon the line of an active play being before a defender’s eyes, or rather behind the defender’s ears. No matter what perspective you take on the situation that occurred in the preseason match-up between the Lions and Bengals, it is clear the National Football League had to take action, and did so by fining Suh twenty-thousand dollars, which has since been appealed.
How much blame can one put on the aggressiveness displayed by Suh? We all very well know that this is going to be, and quite so is, a matter of one being the product of the environment he was raised within and continues to dwell within. Since the beginning of Suh’s football career, there is no doubt that such violence was encouraged and applauded by his peers and mentors, as the ones who catered to his very needs as a developing football star were themselves accustomed to such play. Sure, this will be Suh’s third go-around with a fine delivered by the National Football League, but as a former football player myself, and as one who has been surrounded by football fanatics my entire life, I know that such athletes function upon short memories. This style of play that Suh has displayed, more specifically in his man-handling of the likes of Andy Dalton, Jay Cutler, and Jake Delhomme in the past two years, will continue to be engraved within the defensive tackle’s arsenal. Of course he’s outraged at the fine, but I do also believe that with everything you align yourself within, there will be restrictions, and in our adjusted sense of awareness in regards to the medical evidence of today, football needs to adapt to the day, rather than continue the promotion of the game of the past. As much as we want to hold on to it, there will inevitably be increased rates of fines and suspensions. Continue reading