Dear Russell Wilson;
Mid-morning yesterday I get a text from a former coach that simply states “Water that helps concussions…thanks Russell Wilson”.
That led me immediately to the interwebs to find out what he was talking about and it took me about 3.576 seconds to get results. You were touting a product that supposedly helped with your
concussion, I mean head injury, I mean injury that occurred last year in the playoffs. When I saw this I LOL’ed, seriously I laughed out loud. I thought this was a joke. Alas, it was not.
Then I get to school and another coach asked me about it as well, not so much would it work rather how big of an “idiot” you were (not my words). It was reassuring to know that this coach as well as the other two that stopped me before practice completely understood that this was not possible with what we know. But the fact that they were a little confused, even for the slightest moment, give me pause about what you and others can do with your platform.
I was glad all of this was taking place during school hours and practice so the kids wouldn’t have questions – actually statements about how you know more than me and where to get this. What I didn’t realize was that the parents of the kids had seen this; and wouldn’t you know I had my first email about it at 5pm.
I started to hope this would get out of the news cycle but late last night it picked up steam and this morning, more emails and a phone call at 6:30am about this product. That is why I was relieved to find this article from Mike Freeman of bleacher report. Because, Mr. Freeman is a professional at this writing stuff he was way more eloquent than I could ever be but his message was translating my frustration;
There’s a reason the FDA bans assertions from supplement companies not proved in clinical trials. Unless Wilson’s water contains the sweat of unicorns and saliva from Rainbow Dash, there’s no possible way what Wilson is claiming can be true. There’s also no possible way someone as smart as Wilson believes what he said is even remotely accurate—and that, in and of itself, is a little scary.
No, not a Wilson hater, but this is a pretty serious deal—borderline snake oil salesman and Creflo Dollar-ish. There are two reasons why.
Second, and by far most importantly, at a time when much of the football world—from Pop Warner to Kurt Warner—is worrying over the effects of concussions, he’s peddling false hope in a bottle. A Super Bowl-winning quarterback, with a sweet smile and kind disposition, is selling an unproven concoction as a cure to a proven plague.
Mr. Wilson, from your place thousands of miles away from my high school, you created a credibility issue for me and has and will have undoubtedly costed me time that I usually don’t have on a game day to answer these questions. I tried nipping this in the bud by keeping it to the tweet I had last night about how full of **** you were:
However after the emails and phone call I decided to write you a letter. Not to admonish your beliefs and investment – that is a subjective thing. I am writing you so that you will know what you said and published has an impact on me (I don’t think I will be the only athletic trainer that will be dealing with this question today).
Mr. Wilson I think you are a smart man but in this instance you have set back concussion education/information (OK that is hyperbole). Regardless your words have caused undue stress and time needed to explain to others that your passion about this product is just that, passion. There is no medical science behind it and even if the “nanobubbles” had some extra oxygen, that would be better used in your lungs and not your stomach, it can’t get to the blood that way.
Just like all things in the concussion space we need to think about the science of what and how the body works, in the case of injury (brain floating in skull) and with recovery (no pill/product can fix it).
If you have the time, please use your efforts to educate the world about concussion and that the real issue is not the actual injury but the mismanagement of this injury. And if you think for one second that you cannot influence people, let this letter be a reminder that what you say can and will carry a burden for someone somewhere.
Thank you for your time.
Dustin J. Fink, MS, ATC – High School Athletic Trainer