“League of Denial” (Part 2)

Coming to a bookstore and TV near you today is “League of Denial” a book and documentary about one of the dirty little secrets the NFL has been avoiding for some time.  Fortunately, I have been provided with advance copies of both; the Frontline film was easy to digest, as for reading a book, well we can just say I am trying to read as fast as possible.

I was reminded quickly, yesterday via Twitter, that I may lack valuable perspective when it comes to concussion information (and that I am not normal – this is not breaking news).  Will Carroll of Bleacher Report let me know that this information will be new to a lot of people out there.  He is exactly right, not only that, this documentary will be easily digestible for the fan of football.  For any person just wading into this, when you tune into PBS tonight to view “League of Denial” you will be absolutely hooked from the start.

The sounds of the crowd, visuals of big hits grab your football part of the brain IMMEDIATELY, over those sounds you will quickly discover the problem NFL players have faced with brain injuries playing their sport.  Harry Carson saying “and then they are gone” when talking about former players.  A bold statement that the level of denial was “just profound.”  An NFL lawyer saying “we strongly deny those allegations that we withheld information or misled the players.”  And more video and sound of punishing hits that used to fill the highlight reel bring the opening curtain of this very important documentary.

This problem is real – it’s not just real for the professionals – and from the get go Frontline makes you understand, vividly and personally, why this is.  After listening to old radio calls of the Steel Curtain it all begins with the story of Mike Webster and the forensic pathologist who studied his brain, Bennet Omalu.

The discovery of a possible reason one of the most respected and lauded players in Pittsburgh sports pantheon fell from grace and eventually found and early demise.  If the football portion of your brain does not connect to what is being presented then I would haphazardly guess that you are not ingrained within the fabric of football.

As Harry Carson explains how the game was played and to some extent how it’s still played you can begin to understand the issue at hand.  This is hammered home when Robert Stern, PhD tells the audience blows to the brain are at forces 20 times greater than the force of gravity (20 G’s); or as he so eloquently put it “driving into a brick wall at 35mph”, 1,000 times or more in a season.

In the first 11 minutes of this 2 hour presentation you are at full attention and want to understand the “whats”, “whys” and “whos”.  If you are not engaged and ready for further explanation I can only say that you don’t care or want to bury your head in the sand.

Contributions in the film include Continue reading

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Interesting Side Effect Of Concussions In NFL

With the continued focus on the concussion issue throughout the sporting world the major focus is without a doubt on the National Football League.  What should merely be an injury issue all of its own may now be harboring a  troubling side, “damaged goods”.  Eric Ball of Bleacher Report has opined about such a case in the League, Clinton Portis;

Sure Portis isn’t half the back he once was when he rushed for 1,591 yards and 14 TDs in 2003, but there is still gas left in the tank. He has been dealing with concussion issues for the better part of the past two seasons at the worst possible time. Nobody ever really cared about concussions before the New York Times began to do some investigative reporting into the matter. Now it’s one of the top priorities of the league. Portis would have missed half the time he did in 2010 if the concussion controversy hadn’t erupted.

Perhaps in the past teams either didn’t know of previous head injuries or looked the other way; there were surely players in the past that have dealt with repeated issues as they relate to concussions and were signed (Troy Aikman and Steve Young come to mind).  The concussion issue is just an injury and should be treated no different from Continue reading

Is It Worth It?

Derek Hart of the Bleacher Report has written an article about the costliness of playing professional football.  Before recent studies and investigations, general orthopedic injuries made lives difficult for former champions of the gridiron.  Now it’s repeated head trauma that may in fact make playing in the NFL a scary proposition.

So when I hear about guys like Campbell, Jacoby and Marsh becoming cripples, or kids becoming virtual vegetables like Brad Ebner, the high school player mentioned earlier, or Eric LeGrand, the Rutgers player who was paralyzed from the neck down during the their game against Army this year, as well as the life span of ex-NFL players being shorter than the average American male, I can’t help but ponder…

Read more about this story HERE