Terry Ott — E”TF”A: Now 1 of 7 and Counting

Eric "the Flea" Allen Toronto Argonaults 1972. Photo Ted GrantThe information being brought to The Concussion Blog has been astounding, newsworthy, controversial (to some) and welcome.  We are not paying anyone for their guest posts, rather providing a platform for the information.  The inbox is always open for such things – with me as executive editor.  Just because something is posted here does not mean that I or we generally agree or endorse unless otherwise stated.  I have reached out to many people on the other side of this current CFL issue to open my pages to them and have yet to get a post from them.  Honestly, I don’t know that much about the CFL and its players – Doug Flutie being the only one I remember that well.  I truly appreciate the feedback on this continuing saga, but remember this is one journalist, Terry Ott’s, work.  It is here because he cannot find anyone to publish his information in Canada.  I feel this information is important to share.  What follows is Terry’s most recent filing.

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1970s ERA CFL STAR ERIC “The Flea” ALLEN WILL REPORTEDLY SUE CFL FOR ALLEGED MANY HEALTH PROBLEMS AS A RESULT OF PLAY

Former Toronto Argonaut Player Dealing With “Serious” And Debilitating Concussion Related Issues

Hamilton, Ontario — July 30, 2104

Eric “The Flea” Allen starred with the Toronto Argonauts between 1973-1975, and as noted previously here in Sneer and Loafing, is suffering the effects of what is alleged to be serious brain damage caused by multiple concussions while he was playing for the Toronto team, which at the time, was the highest profile and richest franchise in the league.

Allen, 65, is currently being cared for by his elderly mother in the family home in Rock Hill, South Carolina, along with some help from family and home care workers.

In an interview, Allen’s mother Rebecca Young, 84, said that Eric’s condition had declined precipitously in the last 6 weeks to the point that her son “can hardly walk now,” even with the aid of a walker, and spends most of the day in bed suffering from vertigo and has recently developed bouts of incontinence as well as suffering from worsening memory and mood issues.

Mrs. Young said that she had recently been visited by Canadian lawyer Robyn Wishart who Mrs. Young said will be representing Mr. Allen in a legal action against the Canadian Football League, allegedly for concussion injuries Allen says he suffered while playing in the league for the Toronto Argos for the three seasons in question.

“She said she was going to do her best to get (us) some help,” said Mrs.Young, of lawyer Wishart. “I hope it’s soon…I’m so tired,” added Mrs. Young, who as the principal caregiver for her debilitated son has a multiple hour drive to take Mr. Allen for treatment at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Ms. Wishart was traveling and did not return telephone calls for comment about Allen’s condition.

Two weeks ago, Arland Bruce, also represented by attorney Wishart, was the first 21st century former CFL player to file suit against the CFL member teams and others for concussion injury. Mr. Allen now marks the first from another era to follow a similar path although legal sources expect any lawsuit alleging head injury prior to any officially established CFL concussion protocols to be constructed quite differently than the Bruce pleadings, possibly along the lines of the now settled NFLPA 1 billion dollar suit against the NFL.

Furthermore, according to a source speaking on condition of anonymity, there are now at least a total of 7 former CFL players, some who played over 50 years ago, currently, or intending to, bring suit against the league for concussion injury.

The Arland Bruce III lawsuit story was national news in Canada for several days after it first broke on this Blog July 16, albeit with some of  the coverage taking on a near inquisition tone regarding Mr. Bruce’s motivations and alleged recent actions.

And unfortunately, your correspondent has been hearing about rumblings/grumblings supposedly originating from within The Great White North sports media community that somehow I have embellished, made up, or even peddled “lies” in my episodic and breaking reporting of the emerging concussion crisis in the CFL during the last 9 months.

In case you still don’t get it boys: this is not about me, but rather the wounded former players and common human decency. The players are making nothing up. Mull that scenario over for a while my suspicious, duplicitous friends.

This latest report on Mr. Allen’s troubles and intentions will hopefully give those uninformed and wrong side of history naysayers some pause before they raise questions about Mr. Allen and his family’s motivations and needs, as well as way, way down the line, mine.

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SNEER and LOAFING in the CFL: A Sad Trip to Apathy, Amnesia and Animus

Eric “The Flea” Allen

This post is by guest journalist, Terry Ott.  You may remember some of his work posted here previously in the seven-part series looking into concussions and possible long-term issues (you can click on links within the post to read all parts).  With the Canadian Football League avoiding a work stoppage by ratifying a new collective bargaining agreement and play about to begin Ott brings us a follow-up story.

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The Canadian Football League season is set to kick-off on June 26 culminating with the 102st Grey Cup in Vancouver in November. With a new team-the rather unusually named Ottawa RedBlackstwo new stadiums, a recently ratified 5 year collective bargaining agreement between the players and the board of governors that still leaves the owners with a major financial upper hand, and the ever-increasing fan interest in Canada and even south of the border, it would appear the CFL has landed in a cozy albeit modest pro sports sweet spot.

However, there is that not so little matter concerning the past, and especially the future…


Weird Scenes Inside The 110 Yard Gridiron

After my 7 part series on concussions in the CFL appeared at the end of last year, both Concussion Blog founder
Dustin Fink and I both had the same question:Why has the CFL (apparently) not been sued for concussion-related damages? And just where are all the players who played and suffered serious concussions that affected their quality of life after football? How could the CFL possibly be that much different from the NFL?

The CFL has been knocking and sometimes scrambling heads for well over 100 years and yet not a single class action lawsuit for damages due to concussion has yet been filed. It is possible that at some point in the past, singular concussion related lawsuits have been undertaken and settled out of court and bound by confidentiality agreement so they were never reported on but other than that possibility, it would almost appear that the CFL somehow exists in some bizarre twilight zone of brain injury legal non-culpability and/or amnesty. 

Continue reading

Terry Ott: 3rd Down, CTE to go – FINAL Part

This continuing “Guest Series” is being authored by Terry Ott and will delve into the Canadian Football League and the issues revolving around it and brain injury.  His process began nearly a year ago, but Mr. Ott picked up some steam with the release of“League of Denial”.  He has since found himself running into dead-ends and basically being ostracized for taking a journalistic angle on this as it pertains to the CFL.  We are thankful that we can provide a space for his writings and only hope that someone who is reading this can further his cause. You can read PART 1 HERE and PART 2 HERE and PART 3 HERE and PART 4 HERE and PART 5 HERE and PART 6 HERE.

It has been my pleasure to post the stylings of Mr. Ott over the past few weeks.  The guy has worked hard on this basically “paying it forward” so perhaps one person will run with the information.  I admire his spirit and “sticktoitivness”, thank you, Terry!

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AND IN THE END…THE CULTURE MUST CHANGE AND/OR THE FALL OF THE FOOTBALL EMPIRE

“In this sort of feminized atmosphere we exist today guys who are masculine and muscular…kind of old-fashioned guys run some risks.” -Brit Hume, Jan. 13, 2014

You know, I don’t really care much for the brand of “news” that FOX espouses and yet this is the second, and last time I will quote from it.

Because what Brit Hume recently said deserves to be discussed. Even though his comments may be a mile wide and only an inch deep and were not referring to the “manly” sport of football, they may in fact strike to the heart of the civil war now going on in pigskin circles regarding concussions and brain injury.

On one side of the debate are what the League of Denial authors rightly called the deniers, and the other side would seem to be the whistle-blowers. The deniers see the whistle-blowers as silly sissy Marry la-la’s trying to wreck football and the whistle-blowers see the deniers as Neanderthal numbskulls, old-fashioned guys well past their sell date.

Perhaps these are the risks that can befall the old guard, the deniers. That of being accused of being out of touch, thick, ignorant of the facts, or worse.

But does that make the whistle-blowers, those alleged soft, girly man, nanny-state purveyors “feminized”?

Well, if it means caring about football and employing common sense in a brutal arena, then sign me up for NOW, now, man.

Because pro football as we now know it is in danger-yes, real danger.

Danger of being law-suited and legislated out of acceptable existence.

And, as I have previously pointed out, shutting up about it is just plain dumb and ensures football will be KIA.

The lawyers smell money – that’s real money – and the government will most assuredly act, and maybe even in a Draconian fashion, if pro football does not get its brain injury prevention and after care act together very soon.

The NFL and their broadcast partners are joined at the hip. For the most part, this ain’t good because neither hand wants Continue reading

Terry Ott: 3rd Down, CTE to go – Part 6 – UPDATED

CBC 5th EstateThis continuing “Guest Series” is being authored by Terry Ott and will delve into the Canadian Football League and the issues revolving around it and brain injury.  His process began nearly a year ago, but Mr. Ott picked up some steam with the release of“League of Denial”.  He has since found himself running into dead-ends and basically being ostracized for taking a journalistic angle on this as it pertains to the CFL.  We are thankful that we can provide a space for his writings and only hope that someone who is reading this can further his cause. You can read PART 1 HERE and PART 2 HERE and PART 3 HERE and PART 4 HERE and PART 5 HERE.

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UPDATE 21:19 1/22/14 – rectified link to CBC The Fifth Estate “Head Games” (see below)

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HELLO, IS THERE ANYBODY IN/OUT THEREJUST NOD IF YOU CAN HEAR ME, IS THERE ANYONE AT HOME?

“Now I remember why I gave up speaking to journalists. They are a species of foul vermin. I wouldn’t hire people like that to guard my sewer. Journalists are morons. They’re idiots. They’re ignorant and stupid.” – The late, great, irascible Lou Reed.

Well, up here in the Great White North, the question of (seriously) addressing the serious problem of concussions in the Canadian Football League would appear to be a deaf, dumb and blind one, boy.

Or, maybe as popular as baked beans on a bus trip.

For whichever way you want to turn this thing loose, up here, it’s locked up, tight.

As I’ve written before in this series, although there has been some pretty good reporting, especially by the CBC where on their website they still carry many reports and videos about concussions, about the only report on concussions and the CFL’s role that I can find is a 2008 CBC Fifth Estate report entitled, “Head Games.”

Below is the web promo, description and link but that link does not work. (The Concussion Blog originally linked to this report several years ago when the link did work.)

CBC The Fifth Estate – “Head Games” broadcast in 2008:

“They have been called the greatest football team in the history of the CFL — the Edmonton Eskimos of the 1970s and ’80s that won five consecutive Grey Cups. But, for some of the star players on that team, the years of triumph ended ingloriously in early deaths, from heart attack, suicide and misadventure. The tragedy of those early deaths was often compounded by alcohol or drug addictions, probably caused by another, less visible, killer. Recent research by neuroscientists now shows the link between on-the-field concussions and brain damage; a permanent injury that can lead to depression, suicide and severe aberrant behaviour. The damage is so profound, the researchers say, that post-mortem examinations of the brain tissue of five former professional football players can be compared only to the tissue found in the brain tissue of advanced Alzheimer’s cases.” CBC The Fifth Estate – Head Games

This 2008 report was actually ahead of its time, and again, the only one that I know of that cornered the CFL and asked some tough, prescient questions. The former commissioner had that old deer/headlamps face a few times and newspapers at the time took a toot but then everyone went back to a snore. Comfortably numb.

But now, there is a proviso on the Fifth Estate website advising thatprior programs from 2003 were inadvertently re-posted in 2013 and therefore, contact customer service, yada, yada, yada, and blah-blah.

Yet interestingly – I said interestingly – the only Fifth Estate link that I could not get to work was…TA DAH: Head Games.

I am alleging nothing-although I may later sort of spatially speculate-but there are some conspiracy theorists out there who are very suspicious.

One of them is Phil Colwell, the former CFL running back who Continue reading

Terry Ott: 3rd Down, CTE to go – Part 5

MIPSThis continuing “Guest Series” is being authored by Terry Ott and will delve into the Canadian Football League and the issues revolving around it and brain injury.  His process began nearly a year ago, but Mr. Ott picked up some steam with the release of“League of Denial”.  He has since found himself running into dead-ends and basically being ostracized for taking a journalistic angle on this as it pertains to the CFL.  We are thankful that we can provide a space for his writings and only hope that someone who is reading this can further his cause. You can read PART 1 HERE and PART 2 HERE and PART 3 HERE and PART 4 HERE.

IS “MIPS” A FOUR LETTER WORD AND (Every)THING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SNAKE-OIL*

*But were unaware to ask

“The cold truth is that football players are in jeopardy.”  — Bill O’Reilly, he of the No Spin (End) Zone, Jan. 8. 2014


The Concussion Blog supremo Dustin Fink once mused to me that football, in its infancy a hundred years ago or there about, was meant to be played by (slower) men about five foot nine and weighing an average 150 pounds or so and at a time when a 200LB plus player was basically a monster, a freak.

You can appreciate the Dustin statement inference by referencing high school physics in that net (G) force equals mass times acceleration and also appreciate that now, with players routinely 50-150 pounds heavier then when the first Roosevelt was in the White House, and many now with world-class speed, the G forces generated on impact by today’s pro and college football players are exponentially greater than in Knute Rockne’s days and the resulting collisions on the field can be life threatening in the short, and long-term.

Life in big-time football today is both Darwinian-only the strong survive, and if lucky thrive, and inherently  Hobbesian-nasty, brutish and short.

But since literally millions of boys and young men seek football playing dreams, what to do?

Well, since just about all aspects of football equipment has undergone a radical revolution-footwear, pads, uniforms, gloves and eye protection-how about an update on the most important piece of football gear-the helmet.

A little history lesson: President and Rough Rider Teddy R was a big football fan, and when 9 players died in 1913 as a result mostly of skull fracture injuries, he, along with Knute Rockne advocated for a shift from three yards Continue reading

Terry Ott: 3rd Down, Absence of CTE to go – Part 4

This continuing “Guest Series” is being authored by Terry Ott and will delve into the Canadian Football League and the issues revolving around it and brain injury.  His process began nearly a year ago, but Mr. Ott picked up some steam with the release of“League of Denial”.  He has since found himself running into dead-ends and basically being ostracized for taking a journalistic angle on this as it pertains to the CFL.  We are thankful that we can provide a space for his writings and only hope that someone who is reading this can further his cause. You can read PART 1 HERE and PART 2 HERE and PART 3 HERE.

THE CURIOUSLY TITLED AND ENIGMATIC BRAIN STUDY, AND THE SEEMINGLY RHETORICAL QUESTION OF ’14

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” –Albert Einstein, who knew a thing or two about brains.

Dr. Tator: Not absent

Dr. Ann McKee, professor of neurology and pathology and co-director of the Center For The Study Of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University once mused in a television interview that she wondered if most if not all professional football players had some degree of CTE.

After all, the brains of former football players examined by the Center so far has found the existence of CTE was near one hundred percent.

Whether one agrees with the now famous Dr. McKee in totality regarding the prevalence of CTE in former players, her and her team are world-class doctors and researchers who have brought the serious issue of football related brain trauma into the collective consciousness of tens of millions of observers.

Most believe that the BU work on CTE was the main catalyst for the National Football League to eventually in 2009 admit that there was a cause and effect between football play and CTE and was also the key preponderance of the evidence that made for a 765 million dollar settlement between the league and former players who claimed neurological damage from playing football.

Here in the Great White North, Dr. Charles Tator, of the University of Toronto, has been referred to as the grandfather of brain research and sort of the Canuck version of BU-like CTE research.

Dr. Tator, a neurosurgeon, originally specialized in spinal cord injuries, but was leader of a study of the brains of 6 former Canadian Football League players that was published in May, 2013.

Despite the fact that Dr. Tator’s study found a fifty percent incidence of CTE among the subjects, the study was entitled “Absence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in retired football players with multiple concussions and neurological symptomatically”

The detailed study places much weight on the small number of brains Continue reading

Terry Ott: 3rd Down, Absence of CTE to go – Part 3

This continuing “Guest Series” is being authored by Terry Ott and will delve into the Canadian Football League and the issues revolving around it and brain injury.  His process began nearly a year ago, but Mr. Ott picked up some steam with the release of“League of Denial”.  He has since found himself running into dead-ends and basically being ostracized for taking a journalistic angle on this as it pertains to the CFL.  We are thankful that we can provide a space for his writings and only hope that someone who is reading this can further his cause. You can read PART 1 HERE and PART 2 HERE.

LEAGUE OF NON-DENIAL, DENIAL HEARS, SEES NO EVIL or KNOCKED OUT, LOADED

QUESTION: Could the Canadian Football League receive and survive a class action law suit brought on behalf of former players suffering from football concussions and related brain injury?

ANSWER: Later.

This year, when the Canadian Football League’s director of communications, Jamie Dykstra, declined to answer what he termed my “loaded” questions about concussions and how the CFL was going to address them, I told Jamie it was unfortunate and that I would have to note the league’s silence in my story. “I know,” he said.

So, I am, noting it, that is. Because, to reference some other talking heads, this ain’t no disco; this ain’t no foolin’ around.

To reiterate, my questions, posted on the Concussion Blog earlier and condensed here concerned among other things, whether baseline testing info from the teams was shared with the league, whether the CFL was looking at any new helmet technology such as MIPS and would the CFL, like the NFL in 2009 confirm that in some cases, a causal relationship between football concussions and brain injury was a possibility.

Even after I appealed to Dykstra that hitting the mute button on such an important issue seemed, well, just wrong, and that my questions were not exactly League of Denial serious as a statement of claim or heart attack, he replied that “we (the CFL) are well aware of what is going on.”

I certainly hope so, yet being “aware,” and actually having a prescient policy would appear to be two different things.

Before Dykstra stopped talking, he had earlier forwarded me some pretty white-bread CFL concussions protocols and when I picked at its crust, was told the league’s policy was “organic.”

Far out. Nice, sexy, trendy new-age word Jamie, but what does it actually mean in the real, sometimes savage head knockin’ world of Canuck pro football?

Since the CFL won’t tell me, let me introduce to you a number of quite plausible if not certain “organic” scenarios for what in some ways seems a Darwinian policy.

Unlike the NFL, the CFL right now Continue reading

Terry Ott: 3rd Down, Absence of CTE to go – Part 2

This “Guest Series” is being authored by Terry Ott and will delve into the Canadian Football League and the issues revolving around it and brain injury.  His process began nearly a year ago, but Mr. Ott picked up some steam with the release of“League of Denial”.  He has since found himself running into dead-ends and basically being ostracized for taking a journalistic angle on this as it pertains to the CFL.  We are thankful that we can provide a space for his writings and only hope that someone who is reading this can further his cause. You can read PART 1 HERE.

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THE LINEBACKER’S HEAD GAMES

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, states that:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”[6]

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Former star CFL player Leo Ezerins was a ferocious linebacker through the 80s and won a Grey Cup while playing for the Hamilton Tiger Cats in 1986.

In that game, in which Hamilton was in some sports books a 22 point dog to the vaunted Edmonton Eskimos, Ezerins and company absolutely stomped and annihilated  the Eskimos, a seek and  destroy mission that in the first half forced half a dozen sacks, several forced fumbles and recoveries and a total offense by Edmonton of basically, nadda.

Here, are some highlights:

Ezerins was perhaps the 80s CFL’s answer to former Pittsburgh Steeler wild-man and Hall of Famer Jack Lambert, taking no prisoners and showing no quarter on the gridiron.

And right now, Leo is not too happy with me. I kinda feel bad about that, and here’s how it happened.

You see, Ezerins is currently the executive director of the CFL Alumni Association which boasts around 1000 participants.

The Alumni Association attempts to bring former players together in friendship, events and sometimes even modest philanthropy. Some members have been directly involved in examinations of former player
health and safety issues as well, including concussion research. Obviously, the CFL Alumni does some good work.

And so last October, I sought Ezerins out via e-mail, inquiring as to Continue reading

What Impact can WE make?

I have worked with Battle Sports Science for the past year, mainly as the athletic trainer trying to come up with all the problems one would have by putting any “concussion” device on the field of play.  The things I have gained out of this relationship are: friendship, an opportunity to be the overbearing and opinionated athletic trainer, be on the cutting edge of the concussion awareness movement, tickets to a Nebraska football game, and a few Impact Indicators (oh and an unflattering picture of me on the package).  More importantly what I have learned in the relationship; is that with Chris Circo at the helm there is truly a company out there looking to make a difference – yes they aim to profit as well – however they want to get it right.  It all begins with the words and actions.  One such action that carried heavy weight for me was a conversation about their mouthguards.  I mentioned to Circo that I felt his product claims on the mouthguard was out of line in terms of their concussion claims, and just asked him to remove it.  Guess what, he did!  He had to change packaging and even when there was a distributor that had the old verbage on a website was found he made a call and had that changed too.

I tell you this because Chris has worked on a post for this blog (hopefully others) to use to bring up the question: “How can WE ALL help?”  It explains what they are trying to accomplish as well, using the Impact Indicator as a good first step;

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What Vince Lombardi can teach us about protecting athletes from brain injuries.

Gap-toothed and sporting a trademark crew cut, the face of Vince Lombardi brings to mind one word for most football fans, winning. It’s easy to see why too. The legendary coach led the Green Bay Packers to 3 straight league championships, won 2 consecutive Super Bowls and never had a losing season as a head coach in the NFL. He’s also famous for a quote about winning he never uttered, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” The hard-nosed coach’s actual quote “Winning isn’t everything … but wanting to win is” gives us I believe, cause to stop and think.

The place we find ourselves today in the battle to reduce head injuries in football is Continue reading