Hillenmeyer: Something wrong with the way we teach, practice and play this game

Submitted by StephenRKass on May 2nd, 2012 at 6:30 PM

In the current internet Chicago Tribune, there is a brief article quoting former Bear's lineback Hunter Hillenmeyer.

Link: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/bears/chi-hillenmeyer-rash-of-suicides-an-indictment-of-nfl-20120502,0,7928806.story

This is in response to the tragic news of Junior Seau's suicide this afternoon.

Obviously, this is all over the internet, and there is another post regarding Seau a scant six below this. However, in light of the debate over the future of college football, and the increasingly alarming news about concussions, I thought this link was worth posting this for the money quote:

At what point do enough tragic isolated outcomes show there is something systematically wrong with the way we teach, practice and play this game.

None of us know what the future holds, but change is coming. Hillenmeyer himself was cut by the Bears a year ago after his career was ended by concussions. The suicides, the cumulative head trauma, the violence, the Saints take out pay outs, the lack of compensation (beyond scholarships) for high BCS teams, are all swirling together, and the critical mass for radical change appears to be on the horizon.

I watch this closely, because my son is still playing ball, and I don't want to see him hurt in a way that permanently incapacitates him. Do I want anyone permanently injured as a side affect of my own viewing enjoyment?


STW P. Brabbs

May 3rd, 2012 at 10:51 AM ^

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. 




May 3rd, 2012 at 10:57 AM ^


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.