Saturday, October 26, 2013

Brain damage evidence continues to mount for football

The great ex-quarterback, Brett Favre, says he's had scary losses of memory.  Here is his quote:

""I don't remember my daughter playing soccer, playing youth soccer, one summer. I don't remember that. ... This was pretty shocking to me. ... For the first time in 44 years, that put a little fear in me."

I just watched the documentary "Frontline: League of Denial, the NFL's Concussion Crisis".  It is very sobering.  The first NFL player to have his brain sectioned during an autopsy was the Hall of Fame center for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Webster.  He played on the great teams that won four Super Bowls.  He was nicknamed "Iron Mike."  He was beloved.  He was admired for his enormous courage.  When he retired he stopped being himself.  He could not complete sentences.  He became distracted, violent, disturbed.  He died at the age of fifty.  His body was destroyed, and his mind was damaged - CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy).  A degenerative disease of the brain.  Junior Seau also had CTE.  He killed himself at the age of 43 by shooting himself in the heart with the demand that his brain be autopsied to discover if it had been damaged by football.  It was.  He had undergone dramatic personality changes.  He ended the nightmare.  

The NFL paid $765 million to settle a concussion lawsuit brought by ex-players.  The NFL is doing its best to pretend to protect the players and research brain injuries and to stress "clean" play in the sport.  But the damage isn't a function of dirty play, it's a function of playing football, period.  You can't play football without contact, and you can't have contact without concussions and sub-concussions.  

Super agent, Lee Steinburg recounted his time with quarterback Troy Aikman after Aikman was knocked unconscious in a big game.  They were in his hospital room, lights very low because normal light was too painful for Aikman to bear.  Aikman asked Lee where he was, why, who won the game, etc.  Kind of disturbing to Steinburg to see the effects of the concussion.  But, ten minutes later, Aikman asked the same series of questions, with no memory of having just asked them.  And then again.  And then again.  For a few times.  Pretty shocking.

 And now Brett Favre admits to his fears about the state of his brain.

How many mothers and fathers will allow their sons to play this game which includes brain damage as an integral part of the game?  How many people can enjoy watching it once they see it with new eyes, the eyes of looking for brain damage?  I can't.