“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

The “Other” PBS Film

ICYMI there is another film not named “League of Denial” that PBS is showing that deals with concussions.  This one however is “a proactive look” at concussions in a high school setting.  As Founder, Editor, Journalist, Producer of MomsTEAM; Brooke de Lench put it in a recent post on the release of this film;

We also careful to explain on “The Smartest Team” website that the documentary is no more than an “audio-visual blueprint,” and “an introduction to a set of principles (the Six Pillars) to guide development of a sound concussion risk management program based on the latest research and opinions of experts; to provide a solid foundation on which to build such a program;” that we see it “only as as a jumping off point for what we hope will be the beginning of a multi-year and continuing process involving parents, coaches, players, athletic directors, school boards, booster clubs, and health care professionals, motivated by a desire to preserve all that is good about youth and high school football, to work as a team to implement best practices in concussion risk management.”

The Smartest Team” is a documentary of a high school in Oklahoma that was looking for a better way to combat concussions, and sought out de Lench and MomsTEAM.  During this film you will see the use of Continue reading

It may be Pee-Wee Football but there is nothing Pee-Wee about the hits

PBS will be airing a report today about the hits youth football players take while playing the sport that so many love;

Kids who play football make — and take — hits to the head just as hard as any high school, college or NFL player. That’s what the data show; it’s not partisan, it’s not political and it’s not trying to suck the fun out of recreational sports. Journalist Stone Phillips delved into never-before-conducted research by Virgina Tech that could have a long-lasting impact on how little kids suit up for football.

The report by Stone Phillips will be recounting the work done by the Wake Forest/Virgina Tech researchers, posted here in February.