I wish more of the Saints players would have been punished. What a disgrace to the game that is. I have no tolerance for trying to injure someone on the field.
Hillenmeyer: Something wrong with the way we teach, practice and play this game
The thing is everybody does it though. Not necessarily with an intent to injure, but with an intent to break the will of the opponent. Everyone who has ever played the game, from junior high on up, celebrates big hits. And research is showing, with inreasing clarity, that those hits injure both the "hitters" and the "hittees". You try to hit people hard as an intimidation thing, and it results in injuries. I'm not sure punishing only "intent to injure" cases cuts it anymore.
between hurt and injury, between a hard bruising tackle and a deliberate attempt to go at the head or knee.
But I agree that intent shouldn't be the only criterion. Punish every blow to the head, whether deliberate or not. We don't worry about whether clipping is deliberate--it's dangerous so it's illegal, regardless of intent.
I tell myself that that's okay b/c almost no one would have severe brain trauma if they just stopped at the end of college. I don't know how valid that is, though...The NFL is certainly a compromised sport from a moral perspective at this point.
Why do running backs tend to leave collage early? Because of the commonly held belief that you only have a certain number of carries in your life and you better cash in before you run out of them.
Brain injury is not something that is binary, in the sense that you don't have any injuries up until the moment you have a career (or life) ending event. They build slowly over time and all the hits that a running back, or any player, takes from the start of tackle football on count.
I haven't heard about guys having major problems whose careers stopped after they played in college, but I don't at all mean to say that that does not or cannot happen. I wasn't saying that what I tell myself is correct.
I went to high school with a kid who was a very good RB and would have gone to college, but he had so many concussions in high school that he could barely keep up a conversation by his senior year. He would just laugh and look distant. I knew him since sixth grade. He had a high running style (like McGuffie) and was fast as hell. He wasn't a D1 prospect, but he could have gotten a free education at GVSU or something easily. He hung them up due to concussions out of high school and thank goodness for that.
Remember Mike Williams? The guy this blog called the worst scholarship player ever at Michigan?
He went on medical scholarship I believe because of concussions. I think if we dug a little deeper, we'd be able to find hundreds of examples of similar instances.
That could very well be because you don't hear much about guys whose careers stopped after college, period.
But to your point, Owen Thomas was a player at UPenn who killed himself and was found to have the same neurological syndrome (chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE) at age 21 that has been found in NFL vetereans. So it can definitely happen at the college level.
a back up center from Bo's '69 and '70 team. He was not in good shape mentally. His wife explained he couldn't remember people or names very well, which he could not in coversation (except Bo). He told me he believed his condition (Parkinson's) was from playing football at Michigan.
At the time I was hoping we had evolved since then, and I think the Virginia Tech study, and concussion awareness at all levels, etc. are making a difference. (Both my sons Pop Warner teams and his middle school team shifted to the "good" helmets, and coach, student and parent had to sign a concussion agreements.)
However, there is that old school mentality out there in a lot of pockets though. And we certainly have seen players go back into games when they clearly should not have (we're looking at you Brian Kelly).
As for player compensation: my point of view will always be, if these players had a minor league option like baseball players and hockey players do, they would make far less in compensation than a scholarship is worth, much less the training, phsyical therapy, training table, medical care, etc. I believe the cost of living allowances should be offered, and I also think the University should offer a post-career continuing education benefit, and healthy living / training assistance for the players who don't continue in an NFL career. (That last bit is "how to stay healthy while you are loosing all that weight and muscle you packed on for the betterment of our football program".)
Unfortunately not true.
Here are brain scans from the earliest subject in whom CTE has been found. He was a multi sport athlete who suffered multiple concussions playing high school football and died at 18 (to be clear, the page says nothing about him dying because of brain trauma, just that it was found post-mortum.)
But I'm almost positive that's the post-mortem work done on the Penn football player who committed suicide.
i'm now on my phone too, but the brief case summary explicitly says he was 18 at death, so i think its a different guy.
although I thought the Penn football player was the youngest CTE case discovered.
I played 4 years of varisty in high school and 2 years in Division 3. I have been diagnosed with a migraine disorder, have memory problems, and suffer from depression. Are they related? I do not know. I do know that my constant pain in my ankles, knees, and shoulders are the result of playing football. All this to say that I will do my best to steer my son away from the sport of football in favor of other sports such as baseball, soccer, basketball, etc. unless there are real changes to the way the game is played. There is way too much risk at this point for anyone to be ok with their child playing this sport as it is.
My son started playing flag when he was 5 and stopped when it turned into tackle in 6th grade. He was a pretty good quarterback, and had the build for it, but even if he was the next coming of Tom Brady, there's no way I'd let him play tackle football. It's just not worth it. He'll likewise play hockey until they allow hits, and then he'll be done (both from my side and from his. He doesn't like getting hit). I think there are guys who are just physically tough and relish the hitting, and don't worry about the consequences. Those are they guys that need to be protected.
I was one of the guys who were physically tough and relished the contact. I played offensive tackle in HS and college and there was nothing better than completely dominating a defensive lineman or linebacker. My head got hit on every play of every practice and game, that is a lot of repeated blows. It adds up. I love the game and hope that by the time my son (who is 1) is old enough to play, the rules are different and CTE/head trauma is understood better.
I have a kid who just started school and flag. I played tackle from fifth grade through high school and would have played Ivy/Div 3 had the schools that wanted me not required knee surgery before they would clear me to play. I love the game so much and want my son to go through the highs, lows and character building the game brought me. That said, my fucking knees hurt SO MUCH every damn day and one of them just gives on me all the damn time even when I'm doing nothing but standing around. My left shoulder pops out all the damn time and hurts like a shit evert time a storm moves in. I can't in good consciousness do that to my kid right? Isn't my role as a father to teach from my mistakes.
I really struggle with this. My father played from sixth grade all the way through college back in the leather and then early hard helmet era. He's healthy as an ox without any of the injuries I had. He always says if you made these guys play with the padding and helmets they had, the injuries wouldn't be the same because back then, no one was stupid enough to tackle with their heads and they were more technically sound with wrapping up legs rather than going for the big hit for their own protection. I dunno. This is a very very trying time for the game I love.
Your son can experience the highs and lows in a different sport. Lots of other sports that don't involve getting mashed on every play. I love watching football, but I really don't want my son to play it. He does play hockey and I worry about the injury issue every time he is on the ice.
and has had a strained MCL, but no concussions yet (note: he is a center and a DE). His friends who have played hockey have all suffered one or more concussions. They are 7th graders. My 9th grader suffered a concussion last summer wake boarding. He wasn't doing tricks, and he didn't hit the board. He just fell face first into the water at 18 knots. (We now have a water helmet.)
I agree the sport of football needs to change. Starting at the youngest ages up. This can be done. I have been through two seasons of lacrosse, and the kids are all learning what is legal contact, and what is an illegal hit. The problem is, it takes generations to effect that change. If we start with Tiny Mites today, once those Tiny Mites go up through the system and become coaches at all levels: then the change is fully in place. Until then, we still have pockets and vestiges of coaches and players who instincts are based on instruction the old "real football" way. Even with the Saints player suspensions - instead of owning up to "this is not sportsmanlike and should not be done" - even on the day of Seau's suicide - the players come back with "the League gave a warning to the team management, not the players".
In the meantime, we all cheer big hits like the ones Kovacs put on Alex Carder. Maybe we shouldn't be. Maybe we shouldn't be "hearing football" so much.
I think attention to problems (and calls for reform) go in cycles. I think people will wring their hands for awhile, nothing much will happen, and things will continue as they have.
...But more importantly they want what's best for themselves. Human nature?
Sure no single death or illness proves anything. The point is the trend. This is the most recent, most graphic example of the fact that the life expectency for an NFL player is mid-50s and the rates of early-onset dementia are dozens of times higher. They wouldn't all be like that if they worked at WalMart
You are seeing a trend in large part because the media is telling you there is a trend. Obviously the issue should be studied in depth, but especially in the case of life expectancy a large number of factors other than NFL head trauma can have an enormous skew on the statistics (race, obesity, steroids/supplements, money/fame/women/drugs/booze, etc.). I'm guessing that the NFL sees higher rates in at least some of those categories than the general population does, and any honest assessment of the situation can't involve jumping to conclusions based on broad statistics.
If anything illustrates this perception gap, it should be the fact that so much hand-wringing and speculation is going on because one NFL player committed suicide for reasons that are still completely unknown to any of us while in another front page thread no one is talking about the damage caused by amateur pilots or small aircraft, when a single Michigan basketball commit has lost his father, mother, two siblings, and his step-mother, and been seriously injured in multiple plane crashes. The fact that we're outraged about concussions or a bounty system that doesn't seem to have caused any particular injuries (and proudly announce that we won't let our pre-teen children play tackle football as a result) but are ambivalent about FAA procedure, the granting of pilot's licenses, or recreational flying in general, seems to suggest that our perceptions are strongly manipulated by what we're interested in already and what we're told.
You understand that the fact that there is some sort of FAA procedure in place, or an FAA at all, and a way to grant license is an anknowledgement of the risk and danger that flying represents. There has been, until 2010, no regulation on concussions, virtually no warnings in terms of head trauma.
And if you think this is because of "one player", your head is in the sand.
That it doesn't mean there's danger...just that there's various factors to consider, and only one is being looked at, because it makes a nice media soundbyte. And the soundbyte is being promoted because there's high profile cases of these instances. Where there may be a lot of plane crashes, but until it's Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie going down, no one is going to care to talk about it. And it's being skewed by sensitivities, because people worry about blaming the victim in each case. The lack of warning absolves the victim, but it also says the agency might not have known anything about it either. If the FAA is regulating things that still result in multiple life-threatening accidents, it seems they're not doing a very good job regulating the risks of flying.
Wait, are you arguing that plane crashes are not noticed in the news as much as CTE and other brain injuries? This is utterly, completely ridiculous. What is so problematic about the head injuries is that they may be very widespread, but research has only recently pinpointed the issue. On the other hand, when planes go down, people notice. Very easy to diagnose. Yep, that plane crashed alright. There is, I assure you, a 1:1 ratio of plane crashes that occur and those that are recorded (at least in the US and other developed nations), while the ratio of cases of brain damage from head trauma experienced to those recorded is infitesimal by comparison.
You don't think there are a lot of cases of depression, and even suicide, among athletes that don't get talked about? But plane crashes - no news outlet wants to talk about plane crashes. Are we trying to put the audience to sleep here?
This may be one of the dumbest arguments I've ever seen on MGoBlog. Seriously.
in regards to plane crashes? Has ANYONE said "boy, it's bad what happened to that kid to lose his family...but we REALLY have to look at who we give pilot licenses to and what we allow them to do when someone crashes a plane, twice." Or discussed that maybe we're letting people who have no business flying take these cars with wings up in the air without sufficient oversight? I must have missed the story on every news outlet in America.
Yes, I'm saying that tragedies are tragedies, and just that, to the media, until someone famous is the victim, THEN we need to do something about it. Just like no one cares if 4 year high school player has depression, but if Junior Seau shoots himself, there's a major problem with football. The fact that you're posting about it proves the point. I didn't see you or anyone else posting 300 posts in 4 threads last month, last week, or even 3 days ago. Someone made a big deal out if it, and now you care. But the problem didn't just start...it just had some things that gave it attention. Enough attention that people want to change things. Which obviously hasn't been the case because of small plane crash coverage.
The fact that you can't understand it says more about you than the argument.
So what on earth is your fucking point?
Should we dismiss it because Seau is only a data point? Does the fact that this is the third player to shoot himself in 11 months start to give this critical mass? Do you think this doesn't merit attention? Do you want a national story about Austin Hatch? What is this entire ludicrous analogy SAYING???
You want to draw a parallel between the risk of flying a one ton hunk of metal thousands of feet over the earth and the risk of accumulative high-impact collisions with other humans, and pretend the obvious risk factors between the two are similar. They aren't.
Or, I'm not sure, you want to say that "just because Seau killed himself, it doesn't mean football has a problem". But the simple fact is that it's not "just Seau". He's the third NFL player to kill himself in the last 11 months, and one of several (Turley, Webster, etc) to suffer from a distinct loss of cognitive function. Moreover, there is fucking SCIENCE, like the fellow linked directly below me.
Yes, Seau is just one case. But he's a very high-profile symbol, because virtually every football player is old enough to remember who he is - he's not a bygone relic of the 80's (Duerson) or 70's (Easterling) that many can't place.
The fact that we're outraged about concussions or a bounty system that doesn't seem to have caused any particular injuries (and proudly announce that we won't let our pre-teen children play tackle football as a result) but are ambivalent about FAA procedure, the granting of pilot's licenses, or recreational flying in general, seems to suggest that our perceptions are strongly manipulated by what we're interested in already and what we're told.
Which was the point he was making, and one that you're not really refuting. There's a problem in the NFL, and it calls for more investigation on ALL factors, because you're ignoring part of the problem if you follow the media wave and just look at one aspect of it. Which might solve one problem, which is good, but ignores other contributing issues that will still exist if we act on emotion and media hype, and won't really be helping people. Media hype which isn't based on the science, but what gets people excited and creates page hits and viewers. Which is what Purplestuff's point about the plane stuff was...that there's a problem there, but it doesn't get people excited. And OUTRAGE is great, but it quickly fades. As you've illustrated by naming these other cases that were a big deal when it happened then....kinda disappeared. It shouldn't disappear when everyone settles down; it should be thoughtfully looked at, before people have knee-jerk reactions and act off of emotion rather than reason.
You seem entirely too emotionally involved in this problem, in quantity of posts and spittle over it. Not acting in that state so you're not ignoring parts of the problem was the point.
but if they are, this would give you a chance to catch up on the research:Second Annual Johns Hopkins Traumatic Brain Injury A National Conference: Repetitive Head Injury
It's not necessarily the big hits that cause the damage. Big shots tend to knock you out of the game,meaning you stop taking hits. I think it is the consistend moderate shots, such as all the hits someone like Seau makes over a career that really start to add up.
That is why they are finding boxing is far more dmaging to your brain than MMA. In boking, the gloves allow you to absorb hit after hit after hit to your head, bouncing your brain around like a ping-pong ball. In MMA, one good shot usually floors you and you rarely continue to take a bunch of shots to the head.
Even if they took the biggest hits of out football there would be a problem. Supposedly one study showed that linemen were actually the worst off, because they tend to get some helmet-to-helmet contact on every single play. Very rarely are those "big hits" but they are causing damage over the long term.
MMA has a long, storied history, with a complete lack of CTE. It's far better to have "one good shot" that "floors you."
Although, I could have sworn that most of those MMA bouts involve one guy with his legs around another, getting pummeled in the head while he's laying on the floor. It's hard to tell if either one's brain is bouncing around like a ping pong ball, or not.
Gary Goodridge is one example of a prominent MMA fighter with CTE. Chuck Liddell mumbles a lot more than he used to, that's not conclusive, but most of the fans see it.
Gary (It's painful to watch):
Young Chuck (Fast forward toward the last minute of the video to hear him speak):Old Chuck:
That being said, the UFC in particular does a good job of dealing with concussions. Dana White (the UFC President for those of you who don't know) has no qualms about forcing a fighter to retire if he feels it's in his best interest (which he did with Chuck).
They also do a good job of monitoring guys. That's not to say that they're perfect, but out of all of the "violent" sports leagues, the UFC might be doing to best job of protecting their guys.
My point wasn't that MMA is "safe". No sport where your opponent is tryiing to make you lose consciousness is "safe". My point is that the boxing glove both allows a person to dish out more head shots (because it protects the hands), and absorb more head shots, than would be possible in any bare-handed fight.
A similar example can be made with the football helmet. While it does a good job of pretecting from skull damage, it allows a player to absorb far more hits to the head than they would normally be able to. Over time that adds up, and studies are now showing that even just one season of playing as a lineman can cause measurable deficits in kids. They did find the deficits went away with rest, but what if you play for 10 years? What happens to you over time?
My response was to the guy who said MMA had a long and storied histroy with a complete lack of CTE.
IIRC, the UFC has cited studies that have shown one big blow to the head resulting in a KO/TKO is better than hundreds of shots to the head over the course of a 12 round fight. I also believe that you pointed this out.
I think we agree. I just wanted to make sure no one thought I was saying MMA was "safe". With any violent sport, it's all a matter of degree. As a society we like violent sports with the possibility of injury. But what if that possibility of injury turns into a probability of injury, and of SEVERE life-debilitating injury?
I think the problem football faces is if medicine can prove the football players are not just possibly going to suffer brain damage, but PROBABLY will suffer brain damage. If brain damage becomes the expected outcome, how can anyone feel good about letting their kids play the sport?
Then again, people still box.
I can barely watch . . . it is painful to see what has happened to these guys.
are the reason I'm continually shocked to hear parents say their child is even playing football. I love watching the game but how much evidence do you need to stop your child from playing a game with such violence to the head. Not even the big blows, just the little slaps to the head on every play has been studied to show they add up.
I can explain a bit why this dad let's his son play. In suburban Chicago, youth leagues are segregated by weight class. What this means in my son's case is that he is playing with other 5th graders within about 10 pounds of him. I am a little bit less concerned because within reason, everyone is about the same size. When someone is bigger pr over a certian weight limit, they have an orange "stripe" on their helmet. They are only able to play on the line, and can't run or receive. This eliminates having an oversized RB (or LB, or safety) colliding with much smaller kids. Right now, I think his weight class is 93 pounds.
The other thing is that kids just aren't as fast or strong. This generally means that you don't see really brutal hits on the field. Partly, it is simple physics. Force equals mass times acceleration. Because their mass is less, and their acceleration is less, the force they hit with is much less. It would be interesting to see speed and weight charts, to get a better idea of where the force beomes too much.
Lastly, at this level, passing just doesn't happen very often, and very well. The game is a bit more like rugby (a lot of running, and pushing, but little passing.) A lot of brutal hits in college and the pros happen when a receiver goes up for a pass and is laid out by a fast and big safety or LB. This doesn't happen much in our youth league, because not a single QB in the league has much passing ability.
We kind of self evaluate each year. My son will probably play in 6th grade. I really doubt he will go beyond 8th grade at the highest. Up to 8th grade, he will play with kids his size. High School is where football starts to resemble the real game, and get a lot more dangerous.
My son enjoys the game, and this brings a lot to analysis. Already, he recognizes formations and patterns that I don't see, because I didn't play. Having said that, he already knows his future isn't in football. With a very strong left arm, he'll be able to pitch in HS and possibly beyond if he wants. I'm not pushing him, nor do I care whether or not he plays in HS or college. But being lefthanded with a fastball is a skillset not everyone has, and is the thing that allows him to stand out (rather than size or foot speed.)
Does he only play with 5th graders? I know a lot of leagues will play by age and weight. Ex: 10 year old can weigh 95 an 11 year old can weigh 85 and a 12 year old can weigh 75..And all be on the same team.
However, the reality is that they had one girl on the team who was a year older (and who won't be playing next year.) I suppose the thought is that if they're older, they are faster or more savvy.
Regarding weight, however, the girl who was 10 pounds lighter was still only off by 10 pounds (not the weight disparity between Holloway (164) and Campbell (322,) a difference of 158 pounds.
Mike Ditka has proposed removing the facemask so that players stop leading with the head.
Ditka with the Papa Bear:
They should have unis like Rugby or Australian Rules Football. Modern helmets prevent superficial damage, but encourage what are being called "sub-concussions" multiple times per day.
Pain is a biofeedback mechanism that is there to protect you. When you get hit in the head, it is supposed to hurt so that you try to avoid getting hit on the head. All the current system does is encourage injuries.
This is not something that will pop up occasionally and then "just go away" as it has in the past. The genie is out of the bottle; lawsuits will follow. And where there are successful lawsuits, there is always change. It's going to be an interesting decade.
my hockey helmet. It had a 1/4" styrofoam surrounded by 1/8" plastic. I quit my abbreviated hockey career at the AA travel midget level. Where you could see stars (getting your bell rung} if you didn't keep your head up. I was going to add to this but I forgot what I was going to say :) GO BLUE
Nfl is the biggest bunch of hypocrites on the planet now. The league has known forever that bounties existed, known forever that headshots caused concussions, and known forever that players take dirty plays to get those bounty payouts, to take out other players to win a game since great success results in huge paydays in the next paycheck and name recognition...........
Players are just as big of hypocrites because they played the game doing these things and now want to blame the nfl. They blame the nfl for beginning to do what they should have done a long time ago.
Players, Coaches all bred this atmosphere when everyone made fun of the qb in practice calling them soft since they were off limits, bragged about the huge hits............
And don't get me started on the don't ask don't tell of ped abuse in the nfl and all professional leagues!
and I mean nobody at all, knew the degree of brain damage caused by repeated brain trauma. That concussions were bad is not news, but the long-term result of a second concussion occurring before the brain had healed from the first was only recently understood.
That's what players do when they sign up and play the game. They put their bodies on the line and use them for aggression knowing the risks. It's sad but it's what they love to do.
I blew out my left knee, had to have multiple surgeries and had my football playing career cut short before I was even a senior in high school.
I would have continued playing even after the injuries if the risk for not being able to walk if I took a wrong hit was there.
The tragic and untimely death of Junior Seau and this article by Hunter HIllenmeyer (along with his own ongoing grievance) made me curious about what the NFL CBA provides for these players in this situation. Pages 193 through 203 cover Injury Grievance and Injury Protection.
Section 11(b) of the Injury Grievance article:
"Any player who does not qualify for group health insurance coverage in a given Plan Year under the NFL Player Insurance Plan as a result of being terminated while physically unable to perform and who receives payment for at least one (1) regular or post-season game via an injury grievance award or injury settlement for that Plan Year shall receive a payment in an amount determined by multiplying the number of months in that Plan Year for which he would have been eligible for coverage had he qualified for group health insurance coverage in that Plan Year by the premium the Player Insurance Plan charged for COBRA coverage during that period."
Even under the other articles, this doesn't seem to me to add up to what the care for some of these players is becoming, which is more than a little disappointing. Granted, the league definitely acknowledges the concussion problem and the many long-term physical problems which can result from a football career, but the agreement doesn't seem to provide very liberal avenues for players to recover expenses and get the compensation that they would seek in these case. This clause, to me, leaves open the possibility of a player getting zilch, which seems to me a disservice. However, if you go all the way to Article 65, page 247, you find the Neuro-Cognitive Benefit, with the following:
"Players shall be eligible for benefits under this Article where they (i) satisfy the standards set forth in Section 1; (ii) are under the age of 55; (iii) are vested under the Retirement Plan due to their Credited Seasons; (iv) have at least one Credited Season after 1994; and (v) have executed a release of claims and covenants not to sue in a form agreed upon by the parties to this Agreement."
So, basically, you cannot be currently suing the league to get this benefit, and you have to be a "vested" player, which is five years of service (qualifying for a "year of service" is laid out elsewhere). It also says later that the benefit will be paid for no more than 180 months from the first day of the month of the qualifying exam. Another interesting highlight to me was that, if I read this right, the player will be reimbursed for care provided the expenses are under $10,000 per Section 213(d) of the IRS code. Further, the NFL Plan, assuming you still qualify for it per numerous articles of the contract, is the secondary payor for this benefit.
What troubles me is that this is the agreement they ratified, and it seems to undercut the issue in some very important regards. I think part of the deal needs to be justly compensating players who assume the risk and are injured as a result. We cannot be so heartless as to say it was their choice and leave them in the dust - no agreement should do this, and no management group for any team should attempt it. The issues need to be recognized and players should be given access to proper care, in my opinion.
The NFL is going to have address this issue in a real, and meaningful way. In doing so, they will probably have to alter football as we know it forever.
They're probably going to have to consider things like:
-Limiting the number of years someone is allowed to play professional football.
-Forcible retirement for someone who has had too many concussions, or repeated concussions over a short length of time.
-Changing, removing, and/or improving equipment.
-Altering what is acceptable in terms of tackling, and establishing a zero tolerance policy for breaking the rules that is enforced by a large fine and suspention (Doesn't matter if the hit is borderline, or a monsterous Sean Taylor type of hit. The fine and suspension will be the same so guys know exactly what they are dealing with).
-Attempting to change the culture of football via coaching seminars, player seminars, and education at all levels of football.
-Huge fines for hands to the head, with a particular emphasis on the offensive and defensive lines.
-Widening the field.
If the NFL is serious about this issue they're going to have to get creative, and put all of the sacred cows up for slaughter. It might be a difficult transition at first but eventually fans, players, and coaches will get used to it.
A few years ago, when headhunting suddenly became a penalty, I was appalled. That's just football. I played safety in h.s. and have always been a fan of hitting and great defense, and those killshots with helmets were just the epitome of a violent game played by modern gladiators. Grrrrr, Roger Goodell! Why don't we just make it flag football! Hiss!
Yeah, I'm over that. The increasing science of concussions, and long-term effect thereof, has completely swung me the past couple of years. I had one concussion in H.S. and at least two playing collegiate rugby, and never gave it much thought until the past couple years. Now, it scares the hell out of me.
A previous poster quoted Mike Ditka's suggestion: remove facemasks. I'd go one further. Remove helmets altogether. Or restrict to just the old fashioned leather kind (at least that way we'd still have winged helmets). I'd get rid of shoulder pads, too. If that reduces it to rugby in a way, that's fine-- despite the two head injuries I had playing rugby, I think it's a much safer sport because of the way people tackle. Injuries are frequent, but they're usually the kind that heal. I honestly think my concussions in rugby were because I or the other guy tried tackling in a football way, and not a rugby way.
It might take a generation to get used to it, and the game would be forever different, but I'd support it. The NFL, in particular, results in players with a lower quality, and shorter, life. Full stop. I'm converted. Change the game. Sad for the sport I grew up loving, but think it's become necessary.
but I guess I'll mention it here too--despite the common opinion that it's safer in this regard, current research indicates that there are slightly more concussions in rugby than in football, and also that concussion frequency was similar in various countries (which would address your thought that it was your football training that caused your rugby concussions). I think we should look into that carefully before we try to turn football into rugby to make it safer.
based only on my experience of the two games. Taken as true, though, I would still support some kind of scale-back on helmet technology to discourage head-first tackling and "launching". Maybe facemask-less is really the best way to go (with the best mouthguards money can buy)? Don't get me wrong, rugby is brutal, but the collisions seem much more controlled. Perhaps many of the concussions are coming from the scrums and not the loose play; if so, that would account for the rates and wouldn't be an issue in football if we required arm-push blocking instead of drive blocking.
I wondered about that too. A lot of work on exactly when the trauma is happening seems to be needed in both sports. It's linemen, not players in space, that seem to be suffering the most in football--at least they're the group with the shortest lifespans. Maybe it's the repeated head contact in the scrum or at the LOS that's the biggest problem and it's the rules on blocking/fending off blocks that most need addressing?
I'm torn about face masks--will more players duck their heads if there's no mask protecting them when they go in head up? I don't want a rash of spinal injuries coming because we tried to do something about the concussions.
We can't just keep using this as a meaningful statistic and making conclusions about which players are most impacted by NFL hits. Guys who weigh 300+ pounds have a much shorter life expectancy than people who weigh a great deal less. That is always going to be the case inside or outside of the NFL.
For the same reason that we shouldn't be quick to adopt rugby helmets/rules (or MMA style fighting, for that matter) just because an untested theory seems intuitive, we shouldn't leap to conclusions about the safety of pro football (much less lower levels of football) based on an emotional reaction to one case (or a small number of them) that hasn't even begun to be investigated yet.
Your characterization of "the amount we know" regarding football and head trauma, and the amount we HAVE known suggests you don't know what you're talking about.
I think the main problems are ignorance, the equipment making you feel invulnerable, and the culture of the game.
I had one major concussion in my sports career and it came playing high school football.
I played safety, and the opposing team threw a little swing pass to the running back. I came in with a full head of steam and just crushed the guy in the backfield. Ended up breaking four of his ribs.
I don't remember that hit or the rest of the game, but I didn't miss a play, ended up with a boatload of tackles and returned an INT for a TD. Instead of calling me an idiot and punishing me for staying out there, I was given the game ball, lauded for my toughness, and held up as an example for the way all the other kids on the team ought to play the game.
I didn't miss a single game that season, not the subsequent week, or any practices. When I imagine that type of thing happening to a person over a 4 year college career, and a 15 year NFL career, the consequences become all too clear.
there is no simple answer...and probably no answer.
It would be the end of our guys jumping to the NFL as juniors. It would end the mindset of trying to get to the NFL to cash in. We'd have real student-athletes playing college football, with no eye toward "the next level." I laugh, just thinking about it. It would be fantastic! lol.
I appreciate the concern overall. But, uh:The suicides, the cumulative head trauma, the violence, the Saints take out pay outs, the lack of compensation (beyond scholarships) for high BCS teams [...]
I'm sorry but the players in the NFL CHOOSE to play football. They could easily turn down millions to join the everyday workforce like you or I. Maybe stay in college and get a degree, but no. They choose to leave college early and chase the money knowing full well that these outcomes are possible if not probable. No they shouldn't change the game, if these players want a healthier life, don't play football. Become doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc... like the rest of us and die naturally at an older (hopefully) age. It's like riding a rollercoaster at Cedar Point. You do so at your own risk. If you personally decide that the risk is not worth the reward, don't do it. If you decide that it is and the car gets flung from the track and you die, you made the choice fully knowing of the possible outcome.
If you ride a rollercoaster at cedar point, you do not, at all, ride it at your own risk.
In order for a person to accurately assume risk, the risks need to be disclosed. In this case, they have not.
but the last time football went through this it was the thoughtful few who carried the day. Schools decided to reform the game and among other things we wound up with the forward pass. I don't think any of us would give that up in exchange for a little extra violence.
Of course it took a dozen or so deaths to reach the point where they decided to opt for the creative solution; I hope we get there a little quicker this time.
There's nothing wrong with the way we teach, practice, or play the game. It is the nature of the game itself. Players years ago may not have known the risk of traumatic brain injuries but from here on out we are all on notice: football is a violent sport. You risk head injury if you play.
I think it is a combination of both how the game is taught/practiced/played and the nature of the game itself. Certainly, the game is a violent sport. However, having watched a fair amount of youth football there a certain teams/players that lead with their helmets. Since it tends to be the same teams year after year, my conclusion on filmsy evidence is that those teams are being taught that way. Recognizing that by "teaching" I don't necessarily mean purposely showing the kids how to lead with their helmets, but either praising such activity or at least ignoring it and not correcting the behaviour.
There is major injury risk in every sport. I remember reading are report a few years back that showed heading a soccer ball over long periods of time could give you brain damage. Does that mean you shouldn't play soccer? No. It just means that if your going to expose your body to long term wear and tear expect some long term problems.
The easiest way to protect players is to limit the years they can play. Is it silly to say that if you shouldn't be able to play pro more than 8 years due to higher risk of injury?
I played full contract football from 4th grade through highschool. I was never taught to lead with my head or hurt anyone. I never had a concussion, and never gave one either. Maybe the game needs to be taught differently, but that's it. As long as parents and players understand the risks, then they should be allowed to play without all this talk of radical changes and lawsuits. This is supposed to be a free country, if I understand the risks then I should be allowed to play. People ought to care more about personal freedom than trying to regulate every aspect of one's life becuase "it's for your own good." Otherwise we might as well strap ourselves to our bed, never leave the house, and have some expert government offiical there to look after us and wipe our asses for us. You can go on and on till forever coming up with new ideas on what you think is best for everybody, it will never stop.
This isn't a personal freedom issue.
How is it not. If I want to play a sport that doesn't impact your life at all, and yet you want to tell me how I'm supposed to play the game, how is it not a personal freedom issue. This isn't just with football, it's with everything now in our nanny state. It's why we have warning labels on toasters telling you not to put forks in them or throw them in the tub while you're bathing. It absolutely is about personal freedom.
By this logic, there shouldn't be rules, becaue they infringe on how you want to play the game.
I never said anything about football not having rules, I disagree with people outside the sport fundamentally trying to change the game (by increasing the touchbacks for example in order to get rid of the play). I would have no problem if it were left only up to the players to decide how the game should be played... I suppose there isn't a point trying to argue logic with someone who supports castro.
Are an idiot
great post, did you think that up all by yourself?
Right, because the NFL doesn't regulate itself, every time a rule is changed there is a public vote on it.
Here, I'll type slow so you'll understand...let....the.....PLAYERS....decide... on... the....rules
The same NFL players who created and funded a bounty system, that encouraged and rewarded the injuring of other players?
Also, just so we're clear, you've abandoned the personal freedom argument, and have moved on to "let the players collectively decide how the game should be played," not individuals each deciding how they will play the game?
To further add, I assume you are aware of the inherent problems with self regulation?
on Wall Street. Self-regulation works so well.
arguments to the extreme...does it still make sense to you? Freedom doesn't mean what you ... think...it...does.
One thing that really bothers me is that players in college and the nfl aren't required to wear the safest helmets. A few days ago a study at VT showed that the Riddell Revo speed and Riddell revo 360 are the best helmets to protect against concussion. Why are guys like Drew Brees, Tony Romo and even our very own Charles Woodson wearing the same Schutt helmets they wore in high school?
I think Riddell has the NFL contract
They may, Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson all wear newer Schutts.
I don't understand the argument against Hillenmyer's statement.
How can anyone, possibly, be against efforts to make the game safer? If taking away the pads made it safer (maybe?) how could you possibly be against that? It's still your game. These guys still get to play. Why be against changing the game to minimize the risk?
Without contact it isn't football. It would be like taking punching out of boxing.
Did I say "no contact"?
As a matter of fact yes, you just did.
More like taking the "championship rounds" out of boxing, or making them wear large gloves instead of going at it bare-knuckle.
Gloves do more to protect a fighter's hands than they do to protect a fighter's head. A heavy blow is a heavy blow.
Because the risk and the contact is what makes it worth doing. Have you ever played? If you have, you'd understand. If its all about safety then you could get rid of or change an infinite amount of things. If you can make the game safe and not change it then great.
The thing with concussions is that once you have one youre more likely to get another one. Especially if you don't take the time to heal. Why not make guys who get really bad concussions, like Colt McCoys last year sit for a minimum 4 weeks? They do it in high school.
Browns fan here. I watched the game where Colt got concussed and went back in two plays later and it was SO clear he had no clue where he was or what he was doing that anybody on the Browns sideline who says otherwise is a liar. The problem is the coaches arent paid to look after players safety - they are paid to win - and if a player's safety is jepordized to achieve their goal so be it.
Sad but true.
I think the bigger problem is that the medical staff clearing him to play is employed by the team. That's a blatant conflict of interest that invalidates the purpose of having medical staff on the sidelines in the first place.
Out here on the west coast there been a big movement to get rid of the weighted leagues. The reason being that you get more injuries when a 10 year old plays with a 12 year old than you do when two 10 year olds weighing 70 and 110lbs.
Soccer is also having concussion issues, as people do not wear any head protection and fly at each other from ages 5 and up. The treatment of concussions has changed greatly in the last few years at all levels on all sports in USA. That is a good thing, and needs to continue.
So, doing without helmets may not be the answer either. The NFL, whether we like it or not, sets the standard for how people will coach and behave at the lower levels simply because of the amount of publicity and influence the NFL as a whole will have. Whether it is how to tackle, how to play defense, what helmets are safest, what rules are to be enforced, the people who hold the most resources and most money at the top will most likely be the driving force. All 3 of the leagues constituencies have this responsibility, the players, the coaches, and the owners. How they discharge this responsibility will determine the game's future.
That was why I understood and supported the bounty stuff, regardless of what the mentality or blind eye turned previously was, as it signaled a change in how the game was to be coached and administered at the highest level which should flow downward in the ranks.
I have had 6 concussions and I have some memory issues and suffer from headaches. Two of those concussions were due to two car accidents, 3 of them occurred during soccer, and 1 during tennis. I was offered a partial scholorship to play soccer at a DII school but turned it down because I thought 6 concussions was way too much.
Sounds like a good decision. Makes you wonder how many kids with similar concussion history would play on either because they feel infallible or because this could be their "ticket" (can't afford college otherwise, believe they have the ability to one day turn pro...)
As an aside, and I'm not making light of your circumstances, but I am curious as to how you got concussed playing tennis?
"The method of Seau’s reported suicide—a gunshot to the chest—is also freighted with symbolism. Last year, ex-Bears safety Dave Duerson, like Seau, shot himself in the chest. In Duerson’s case, this was an intentional choice, designed to preserve his brain for study—his suicide note included a request that his family “see that my brain is given to the NFL’s brain bank.” A subsequent autopsy confirmed the diagnosis that Duerson suspected: Hisbrain showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease that researchers believe is caused by repeated head injuries and is associated with depression and dementia."
Many people seem to be conflating the issue of concussions with the issue of CTE. While concussions are extremely dangerous and should be treated as such, what the recent research has shown is that repetitive, subconcussive impact also results in brain damage.
This is crucial to understanding how to make the game safer, of course. It's not just the helmet-leading kill shots, its the grunts on the line banging helmets every single damn play. It's also interesting to think about this in terms of the safety of other sports - maybe rugby has as many concussions, but is the frequency of sub-concussive head impact as high (I don't know.) If so, does such impact mostly occur during scrums? In terms of soccer, it makes you wonder about heading the ball - I played keeper, so I didn't have to deal with this much, but every time I see a player rise up to put his head on the end of an 80 yard bomb a keeper just punted, I cringe a bit.
A study of professional soccer players in Italy found that the incidence rate of ALS was 6.5 times higher than in the general population.
Sports Brain Trauma May Cause Disease Mimicking ALS, Researchers Find
The claim that ALS itself might be caused by repetitive trauma is still disputed as far as I know, but I thought it was interesting anyway.