Amani in crosshairs on Mike & Mike

Submitted by superstringer on May 4th, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Some of you might have heard Amani Toomer on Mike & Mike this morning, criticizing something Kurt Warner said yesterday on the Cowpile's radio show.  I didn't realize Amani was working for NBC Sports, and like or dislike what he said, as a former player it struck me that he represents us well, like Jalen, Dhani and other Wolverines in the media.

Keep in mind, Amani and Warner probably played together with the Giants, and Amani said he is "great friends" with Warner, so this is a disagreement among friends.

Warner said, basically, he doesn't want his kids to grow up playing football even though they want to be in the NFL.  He recognized football has done well for himself and his family (translated:  BIG BUCKS), but the concussion situtation makes him fear for his kids.

Amani shot back, apparently in a tweet or something, that Warner should basically SHUT UP.  Warner got famous and rich on football AND continues to do so, being a commentator on the NFL Network.  Amani thought Warner shouldn't use his platform to "denegrate" football, pointing out that football does lots of good for people (e.g. college scholies -- unfortunately Amani didn't drop his alma mater's name when he said that).  Amani had no problem with Warner's personal opinion, but Amani pointed out soccer and lacrosse have lots of concussions too yet football gets so much attention on the matter.

At first, from Greenie's teasers, it sounded like Amani was being set up to look like an idiot.  But hearing him explain his position, I sort of agree with him.  Easy for Warner to say now, with all his fortune, that football isn't a good thing for kids.

Comments

Carcajous

May 4th, 2012 at 10:40 AM ^

I know that lots of boxers freely and openly say they do not want their kids to box.  Not sure what is wrong with Warner wanting something different for his kids...

Louie C

May 4th, 2012 at 10:53 AM ^

Agreed. Despite the fact that it provides a pretty decent living for them, I don't want my kids to grow up and work on the line at GM. Pretty much everybody I work with that has kids shares the same sentiment. That's why I am going to stay on my kids about their grades like stink on shit, and also why I am working on finishing my degree.

chitownblue2

May 4th, 2012 at 11:32 AM ^

I think that's debateable:

78% of NFL players are bankrupt 2 years after retirement:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1153364

As a former scholarship athlete at Michigan, I can also anecdotally testify to the fact that the education that the football guys get, for the most part (there are exceptions) is not the same as the one you get.

danimal1968

May 4th, 2012 at 11:43 AM ^

"By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce."

Incidentally, no link to the data supporting this assertion is provided so it may or may not be accurate.  "Under financial stress" could mean a lot of different things depending on the agenda of the person pushing the point. 

Magnus

May 4th, 2012 at 12:58 PM ^

Ummmm...to gain support for his platform, which is partly to get more money and health care for the people he represents?

I have a very hard time believing that 4/5 NFL players are bankrupt within two years of their playing days.  I also have a very hard time believing that the NFLPA wouldn't fudge the numbers a little bit just like the owners do.  The question would be: Which direction do they fudge the numbers?  My guess would be that the actual number would be, say, 70% and they fudge it up to 78%...instead of the actual number being 85% and they fudge it down to 78%.

"Okay, okay, you got me.  I was lying when I said 78% of our players are bankrupt.  I lied because I was trying to get more money out of you.  You caught me red-handed.  The actual number is much higher."  

Bill in Birmingham

May 4th, 2012 at 10:45 AM ^

I heard the Mikes on the way to work this morning before Toomer came on and unless I really miss the boat, I think Toomer is flat wrong. Saying Warner should keep his opinions to himself is a bit of a disingenuous tactic to show your disagreement with someone. And it is not at all inconsistent to appreciate what a game has done for you (a game that Warner clearly says he loves), but to not want your kids to risk brain damage, even doing something you love. In my experience, the parental instinct to protect one's children is basic and understandable. I understand his position and even if I didn't completely agree with it (which I believe was Golic's position), respect his feeling that protecting his kids trumps even the game he loves.

maizenbluenc

May 4th, 2012 at 11:03 AM ^

I see where Amani is coming from, and Warner. I think both are right to speak their opinion. I disagree that Kurt should keep it to himself, because I think the only way to make the sport safer is for the players who have this opinion to speak out on the side of change. However, I also think that Amani has a point as well.

Combined the statement is the sport should go on, but needs to change to be safer.

stephenrjking

May 4th, 2012 at 10:48 AM ^

This is a complex issue. On the one hand I will always defend a parent's right to protect their children, and Warner's caution (he had concussion issues himself, remember) is entirely reasonable.

On the other hand, Toomer sees Warner actively making money from the sport and perceives Warner's stance as a condemnation of it. Tricky stuff.

As long as Toomer was kind about it I don't have too much problem with his objecting. This is a tough time.

Picktown GoBlue

May 4th, 2012 at 12:10 PM ^

response, but he admitted that it is hard, especially with so many poor examples of improper tackling that kids and their coaches see.  It's going to be tough to change a fundamental aspect of the game, and one that is taught to be nearly second nature.  The other aspect that was mentioned was the fact that due to strength training and diet, players are dealing with speeds and weights that are much greater than they were in the past.  The sheer physics involved means that the impacts are going to be much more severe.  And it will only escalate through survival of the fittest - if you're too small, you won't play, so only biggest, fastest, strongest are going to be in the game, hitting harder and faster (and with poor technique unless that is fixed from a very early age).  Not a simple problem; won't be simple solutions...

Elmer

May 4th, 2012 at 10:50 AM ^

This issue is going to be around for a long time.  Every tragedy, like Seau's death, will just bring the spotlight out, brighter and brighter each time.

wolverine2003

May 4th, 2012 at 10:50 AM ^

I heard Warner's comments yesterday.  I took them to mean that he wasn't sure if he wanted his sons to play professional football.  I didn't take them to mean that he didn't want his kids growing up playing football, just that the speed of the game and getting hit in the NFL is a different level that he might be uncomfortable with for his kids.  I could be wrong, but that's how I heard it.

RakeFight

May 4th, 2012 at 11:00 AM ^

Would be interested in seeing a transcript of this discussion, but if he really told Warner to SHUT UP and implied that his opinion isn't credible because he's had a successful NFL and post-NFL career, then I do not consider that representing UM well. 

Warner's opinion is very valid and I don't see it as in any way "denegrating" football.  It's now well established that traumatic brain injury is a significant risk of a career in the NFL... this is a fact, not a theory, and so for Warner to say that he doesn't want his kids to take a risk that he himself was not aware of going into it seems very rational.  And if anything, I think having a successful NFL and post-NFL career add credibility to his opinion... or at least has little to do with the validity of his comments.  In fact, I'd be interested to hear what the OP means by "easy for Warner to say now??"

mongoose0614

May 4th, 2012 at 11:05 AM ^

I played football for 6 years and have had one concussion.  My son is 6 and I spend time with him on the golf course.  If he wants to play football I will support him but I no longer want to steer him that way

This all started for me when HBO Inside Sports started following brain injuries, ALS and the link between sports.

Other food for thought for those that think only violent contact with the head is detrimental........Soccer players rank right up there with ALS and brain problems because of the amount of headers.

 

 

MAS

May 4th, 2012 at 11:12 AM ^

Don't have enough points to start a thread, but I just received the below email from the Alumni Association;

 

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·         Number of Tickets Requested - 2

 

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Go Blue!

 

GoBlueBrooklyn

May 4th, 2012 at 11:19 AM ^

OK, this is going to be long, so I apologize in advance.

I work in the film world and we recently held the World Premiere of a film called AMERICAN MAN, a documentary about Kevin Turner, a former fullback at Alabama who played in the NFL with the Patriots and Eagles. Kevin suffered multiple diagnosed and likely many undiagnosed concussions during his career and has since developed ALS, a rare, incurable, and fatal brain disease. Except it is not that rare in former football players.  Kevin and his family attended our screening of the film, as did former NFL LB and Hall of Famer Harry Carson, who spoke eloquently about the damage concussions have caused him. Harry stood at the mic and said that if he could go back in time, he NEVER would have played football. Kevin Turner said his sons are now not allowed to play football. 

One of the things that happened on with this screening, which took place just prior to the NFL Draft (my film festival is in FL), was that many of the draftees were nearby doing media training and pre-draft training at IMG in Bradenton. They were working with a sponsor who brought them in (and we're talking 6 of the top 10 picks in the draft) to film the "draft experience". We spoke to their hosts, who were very interested in having them attend our screening, walk the red carpet and speak to the press as part of their media training (being a glitzy "film festial" helped this idea as well). But when the sponsor heard what AMERICAN MAN was about, they pulled the player's participation, clearly not wanting to offend the NFL or to "cause controversy"  by having players attend a film that took a hard and serious look at player health and safety.

You look at Kevin and his story, the toll this disease has taken on him, stand next to the man and hear him talk and it is clear that football, from pee wee through the NFL has to take player injuries and health far more seriously. 

 
Junior Seau's suicide is a tragedy, but the fact that it is at all "controversial" is a joke. I am a lifelong fan of the game, a Michigan Alum who has never missed a single down for decades, and a huge fan of the Detroit Lions since my childhood in the 1970's. That said, I have no respect for the business side of this sport. At all. The NFL treats its retired players health like shit and the machismo of "toughness and discipline" is a disaster for taking a serious look at player health and safety.
 
Seau's suicide, the Saints "bounty" program,  Kurt Warner facing criticism for wanting to prevent his kids from playing-- all of this points to a sport that is completely at odds with the realities of the damage it causes. I would never seek to ban football, but there is so much more that could be done to help players, to monitor their health, to make health and safety a priority over the "win at any cost" mentality, the "kill shot" mentality that dominates the game. I think the NFL should be setting a clear example with a comprehensive player health and safety program that lasts a lifetime for all players, that puts an end to the helmet to helmet hits, that uses real action to support the lip service the game pays to former players. 
 
Having stood next to a man who faces a likely death sentence for having played the game he loves, it is clear to me that whatever is being said and done is not even a small percentage of what is required. Why are so many former players so angry at the league and the game? The NFL billions need to be invested into lifelong support of the men to generate that money. Period.
 
You can read more about Kevin Turner here:
http://www.kevinturnerfoundation.org/

Here is NFL Hall Of Famer Harry Carson's report from our festival:
http://www.harrycarson.com/wordpress/?p=130

Other players who have developed ALS:

Steve Gleason, New Oreleans saints
http://www.teamgleason.org/learn/

Steve Smith, FB, Oakland Raiders

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIsa6m_ak8o 

 

This is a real issue and Amani should respect the experience of those who love the game and have suffered more than he.

Michigasling

May 4th, 2012 at 12:28 PM ^

Harry Carson appeared in NYC when his memoir was published, and his talk focused on this issue, not his football triumphs.  Added to his concerns about his own condition is the guilt knowing that his job was to give concussions to others.  He said that he was lucky that he had daughters and not sons, because he wouldn't let his sons play football, despite all it has given him.  But he does have a grandson, and said he and his son-in-law might have big battles when the question of letting the kid play comes up.

One point he made was that better helmets won't completely remove the danger because sudden stops (fast running, instant stops, whether or not assisted by hitting or being hit) makes our soft brains hit against the skull itself.  Even without full concussion, this constant assault on the brain tissue has longterm effects.

To the casual observer, he shows no signs of brain damage affecting his intellectual capacity (not yet, at least).  His presentation was compelling and moving, and his passion about the issue has driven his post-football career.   

 

 

jerseyblue

May 4th, 2012 at 11:22 AM ^

I've always been an Amani fan when he was with UM and the Giants but since he's retired there's been several instances when he's stuck his nose in other people's business and said stupid things. Even before this I've gotten the vibe that he's an angry guy these days.

74polSKA

May 4th, 2012 at 11:22 AM ^

I think that Amani and Kurt were both respectful and sort of agreed to disagree about each other's comments.

As a parent, I was more surprised by Chris Golic's comments on her blog/twitter (not sure which) that they read on the air.  She basically said that her boys have always dreamed of playing pro ball.  She won't do anything to stand between them and their dream, even if that means allowing them to come back too soon from injuries or to play with dangerous injuries.  I understand wanting to help your kid live out their dream, but I would not take it this far with my daughter.  I know there is inherent risk  in many things in life, but to knowingly allow them to put their body and future at risk seems reckless to me.

TXmaizeNblue

May 4th, 2012 at 11:52 AM ^

Why are people treating this like some new phenomena? I'm so sick of people piling on all this psycho-babble about poor players being so unaware of the danger they put themselves in...blah,blah. Everyone who has ever played the game knew what they were getting themselves into. Life is full of risks that people enjoy making. Let's not turn our risk taking - for which we received ample compensation - into some poor me party.

Oh yeah, and let's just assume Juniors death is somehow related to football, ?

74polSKA

May 4th, 2012 at 12:40 PM ^

I'm not sure if you meant to reply to my post, but I don't think I was making those points in my comment.  I realize that life is full of risks (I ride a motorcycle to work almost every day).  While riding a motorcycle can be dangerous, riding one with bald tires and bad brakes is even more so.  I guess at some point you just have to draw a line between risk and too risky.  That line is drawn in a different place for each of us and it can shift as more information about the dangers of our chosen activity emerge.     

MGoStu

May 4th, 2012 at 1:17 PM ^

Players haven't known what they were signing up for because we have only recently become aware of the damage that is being done while playing football. To refer to it as "psycho-babble" is just ignorant. It's one thing to take risks. It's another to do something not knowing there are risks. I played, and I know I played through concussions. But at the time had no idea I shouldn't be.

jg2112

May 4th, 2012 at 12:10 PM ^

It's really quite interesting how much football players seem to have to argue in favor of their sport staying viable. Quite a bit of protesting going on lately.

Magnus

May 4th, 2012 at 12:26 PM ^

I have no problem with Warner saying he doesn't want his kids to play football.  He ought to have enough money (and continue making enough money) to set them up for a good life without having to put their bodies at risk.

However, football DOES create lots of opportunities for low-income kids and athletes in general to improve their situations.

Warner can afford not to have his kids play football.  Parents in Pahokee can't necessarily make the same concessions.  If a kid is fast and can catch a football, it might be worth the risk.

UMFootballCrazy

May 4th, 2012 at 2:06 PM ^

   I could not agree more. Case in point: Shannon Sharpe.  Before anyone opens their mouth about player safety they should take a few minutes and watch this video from NFL Films about Sharpe:

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-hall-of-fame/09000d5d8212e78c/Sharpe-Focus-The-demons-inside

 http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-hall-of-fame/09000d5d8212e50e/Sharpe-Focus-The-college-years 

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-hall-of-fame/09000d5d8212ea70/Sharpe-Focus-Finding-his-way 

 http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-hall-of-fame/09000d5d8212ea73/Sharpe-Focus-The-culmination 

Just because too many cannot manage the money and fame, does not mean there are not dozens of kids who would put in the work and take the risks to make it to the NFL for their shot to do for their grandma what Sharpe has been able to do for his.