Since the tragic and untimely death of Junior Seau the concussion issue has begun to fester like a three-day old pimple on a 13 year-old’s greasy face. It is ready to pop and keeping up with all of the pertinent articles and “specials” has been very trying. In this post I will attempt to link up and highlight as many as I can (surely I will miss many, however Concerned Mom in the comment section will have more).
Lets begin with ESPN and the Outside the Lines week-long look at concussions. I have found this to be must see, my DVR is a testament to this; using previous stories and bringing in commentators on the subject have provided information and even fireworks. Yesterday Merril Hoge and Matt Chaney did just that – provide information and create fireworks. You can find the podcast here (panelists begin about 7:30 mark).
Hoge drew my ire earlier this week with his admonishing of Kurt Warner’s statement of being a father, however yesterday he did have a very valid point about the management of concussions. I have said is ad nausea here: the elephant in the room is the management of concussions, however Hoge sounded a bit “underconcerned” about the actual injury. Which is where Chaney had very valid points about the exposure of concussions to the youth. They are both right in my estimation; the management is the larger issue but we are seeing too many too young people being effected by concussions. There needs to be work in both areas and remember this is not just a football issue.
We have the duty to protect our kids and if that means flag football for 5-13 year-olds then I am cool with that. If we find after making such a drastic change that has not been enough then we can take it further if needed. I feel that a change like this will allow a few things: 1) more time to let the brain develop and thus allowing research to catch up to what we know. 2) employ more medical providers in a position to find, assess and manage concussions (see athletic trainers). And 3) begin a culture shift about the seriousness of concussions, after all this is a brain injury.
As Chaney later told me;
“no one, including you or Hoge, can do shit with these grand ideas until we get the damn game down into manageable size… again, ATCs must face this fact and act, especially, or this whole fucking show will disappear, and relatively soon”
“I’m still open for tackle football ages 14-17; I’m just saying mounting experts and literature and assumption of risk law don’t bode well for even adolescent participation much longer”
There was a debate on ending college football with many dubious and well written experts. It was designed to originally talk about the corruption of college sports but it did bleed into head trauma. You can see the full debate here courtesy of FORA.tv. Listen to Malcolm Gladwell, Buzz Bissenger, Tim Green and Jason Whitlock debate. It was brought to us by intelligencesquaredus.org, thank you.
An abrupt retirement from a lesser known makes us all think for one second;
“One of my biggest concerns when it comes to the game in general is my personal health. One thing that’s obviously on the minds of a lot of people lately is brain research and all the stuff that’s going on with that. One of the big things that I thought about when I was considering this is how much do I love the game? How much can they pay me to take away my health and my future and being able to be with my family and just have a healthy lifestyle?”
So after eight seasons — the last four of which came with the Rams — encompassing 109 regular-season games and 100 starts, Bell is calling it a career. He said he has contemplated retiring for the last year or so. But the recent death of linebacking great Junior Seau was the “cherry on top.” In other words, it may have pushed him over the top in terms of deciding to retire.
Would Bell, who signed a one-year free-agent deal with Cincinnati less than five weeks ago, still be playing if Seau hadn’t taken his own life?
“That’s a good question,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about some different things, thinking about health, thinking about the future of my family having to deal with some kind of crazy disease that nobody even knows about, where people want their brains studied after they’re dead. Donating their brains to research.
“It’s just crazy to see how someone like Junior Seau took his own life over — God knows what he was really struggling and dealing with. But you have to believe it came from the game of football. I want to get out before the game makes me get out, where I can get out on my own terms, and I can limit the amount of stress and negative impact that the game would leave on me.”
I can’t help to think there are many more players going though the same thought process.
Do football players die younger?
A records-based study of retired players conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) concludes that they have a much lower death rate than men in the general population, contrasting the notion that football players don’t live as long.
The findings, emailed Tuesday to about 3,200 former players who retired before 1993, came less than a week after former linebacker Junior Seau’s suicide death at 43, and renewed concerns for the long-term health of players.
“That’s surprising to me because of the blows we took when we played,” said former Oakland Raiders defensive back George Atkinson, 65. “You’d think football players didn’t live as long as the average person.”
Hall of Fame guard Joe DeLamielleure, 61, said he’s not convinced. “I think it’s bogus. Just think of the guys who have died before they got into their 60s or 70s. Don’t tell me we live longer. I don’t believe it.”
Of the 3,439 former players in the study, 334 were deceased. Based on estimates from the general population, NIOSH anticipated 625 deaths. The results, completed this year, came from further research after a study requested by the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) was completed in 1994.
From the Today Show, girls and concussions in the sport of soccer; you can find the video here. Again it highlights that football is not the only place for concussion and boys are not the only ones affected.
How about a point of view from Marc Bulger, from ESPN.com;
That’s why Bulger finds it so hard to believe that the former NFL players who recently filed the federal lawsuit against the NFL were unaware of the dangers. He doesn’t doubt many former NFL players struggle with severe effects of concussions, such as dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), but their struggles aren’t the NFL’s fault.
“I may have it,” Bulger said of CTE. “I’ve had 10 to 15 concussions. I played in the NFL 11 years. There were six or seven years where I was the most sacked quarterback for that span. So, this could affect me.
“I’m just saying there’s a slippery slope. If we go that route, is it the college coaches as well? Do we blame the high school coaches? I think it is going to have a negative impact on the sport. ”
Bulger believes the NFL will not survive if decisions are made to soften the physical aspects of the game.