“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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Tuesday Quick Hits

A quick buzz around the net on a Tuesday morning.

NHL handing out suspensions and fines like candy for illegal hits;

In the pre-season, hardly a day went by without a new video. Most players applauded the crackdown but others worried it may turn NHL hockey into no-hit shinny.

Nine players have been slapped with 31 regular season games worth of suspensions for incidents in exhibition games. Together, they will forfeit more than US$701,000 in salary.

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NFL to create a better study;

The N.F.L’s first attempt at a long-range study on the effects of concussions was riddled with problems from the manner in which data was collected to conflicts of interest for those overseeing it. After criticism from outside experts and even members of Congress, the study was shut down by the league in late 2009.

The previous study run by Ira Carson, MD was a joke from the beginning and this one seems to much more transparent and studying the correct people.  Initial reports have the study examining upwards of 1,400 individuals in three groups: former NFL’ers, college football players not playing in the NFL, and a control group.  The official presentation to Commissioner Goodell has yet to occur but is going to happen soon.

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Crosby officially out; Continue reading

Quick Response Expected

According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, the NFL is going to announce the “cracking” down of excessive hits.  The primary concern in the helmet-to-helmet hits, and instead of just fines, there will be suspensions.  The suspensions will also be handed out for first time offenders, getting rid of the “free pass” that has been around for some time.

Other News: Chris Cooley played with his concussion but took himself out after he realized things were not getting better…  David Garrard became the 11th (by my count) concussion of week 6 last night on MNF…  Dunta Robinson also diagnosed with a concussion…  Awaiting the injury list on Wednesday

NFL Concussion Tally Through Week 6/7

Well yesterday we had a barrage of head injuries and quite a few made the “National Spotlight” with the questionable helmet-to-helmet/weapon like usage leading to the injuries.

The awareness is GREAT, do rules need to change, not up to me, but they do need to enforce the rules already in place.  And when extenuating circumstances arise its needs to be punished.

If you have followed this blog since the inception you will know I keep track of the official NFL injury reports at the end of the work week when they have to be known.  Focusing on those injuries listed as “head”, “concussion”, or “migraine” I have a total number of concussions.

That number, through 6 weeks, is 40.  There was not a player listed on two separate occasions (yet).  Some have had their season ended already by concussions/head injuries.

If you add in the 10, yes 10, concussions yesterday (not all “said” to be concussions) that total is 50 in 7 weeks.  There may be more that come up, either on MNF, or disclosure later in the week.

A quick side note, the Todd Heap and Joseph Addai injuries smell of “a hockey cover up”.  Heap took a shot to the head but was listed as “stinger” and returned.  Addai took a shot to the head as well, via shoulder, and was obviously “not there”, but they listed his injury as “shoulder”.  The NFL needs to make sure all concussions are reported, correctly.

So there you go, I have the count at 50, problem, yes.

NFL’s Goodell in Washington for Conccusion Conference

As reported by Liz Matthews of MYNorthwest.com some heavy hitters were at the Virgina Mason Athletic Center for a conference on concussions.  Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the National Football League, as well as Zackery Lystedt were there to “Keep Youth Sports Safe.”

Because of the popularity of the NFL and the important role it plays, “we have a responsibility to do what’s right and make a difference in people’s lives,” he said. Having started in the State of Washington, Goodell believes that the passing of this law would make a difference for all sports – not just football – for kids across the country.

“We all are learning more about the seriousness of the injuries. Continue reading