Dave Pear Article

Submitted by Kilgore Trout on December 22nd, 2009 at 8:43 AM

Just checked out the Dave Pear article over in the m.go.licious and man, what a downer. I never played any sort of organzied football, and the more and more I watch, I'm glad. I've been saying to my wife recently as we watch games that if we ever have a son, I hope he has no interest in playing football. The hits and twists these guys take are unreal and just don't seem worth it for the vast majority of them.

I work in neurosurgery and my wife is in psychology with brain injuries, and this stuff is really messed up. I realize my hypocrisy in watching, but I guess it is what it is to borrow a stupid phrase. Maybe they really should seriously consider some of those suggestions like making any tackle without wrapping up a personal foul or flagging every single helmet to helmet religiously so they take it down a notch. Of course, that isn't what sells, so it probably won't happen.



December 22nd, 2009 at 9:59 AM ^

Some hits definately look far worse than what they really are. Still after playing football for years since being a youngster, I can tell you that yes the aches and pains do add up. You know what? I wouldnt trade my aches and pains for the world though, as I've come away with some great memories. My worst injury in football occured not on the football field but during lifting for football and yes 10 years afterwards, I still feel the pain in my lower back from that injury. Still this kind of highlights a meme in the Dave Pear article that is difficult to discern now, was his injuries the result of a specific action on the football field or a sign of the times in that the pressure to play through injury resulted in worse injuries? Yes he was injured on the football field but during that age and time were the pressures to "rub some dirt on it" and get back in there far worse than they are now? The NFL has been employing numbers of doctors, increases in technology for equipment, increases in personal foul penalties governing types of tackles (horse collars, hitting defenseless players, etc) in an effort to counteract the rise in size, strength, and speed of today's players. Now you hear of an increase in pressure to force players to sit, specifically due to conditions dealing with the brain (concussions) and other faculties. Sure this does nothing to help Dave Pear and his compatriots of yesteryear, but it will be interesting to see what happens in 20 years when the stars of today retire.

On a slightly different note Kilgore, if you do have a son and he wants to play football, by all means let him try out. Earlier the better as well. Doesnt get much better than watching your kid grow due to the comraderie and organization that football can provide. No other sport I've found can come close to providing the level of teamwork, organizational skills, and discipline that being on a football team can provide. IMHO


December 22nd, 2009 at 10:23 AM ^

In your last paragraph, you could substitute basketball, soccer, swimming relays, baseball, cricket, and bobsledding for "football." All those sports teach the same rules of teamwork, discipline, organization, and preparation.


December 22nd, 2009 at 11:20 AM ^

You could just subtitute really anything into the last paragraph and it would sound good, but I just feel that most other sports do not require the level of discipline and teamwork that football requires. Basketball, baseball, etc teams are definately helped by preparation and teamwork, but due to the framework of those games, the individual if skilled enough or having a good day can carry a team. Where would Joshua Cribbs be if he didnt have the 10 other guys on the kickoff return team blocking correctly and completely for him?
Where would Chris Johnson and his pursuit of 2000 yards rushing be without his offensive line blocking for him? I mean sure you can apply these things to other sports but I just feel that most out there can't compete on the level and requirements that a football team needs in order to function and win ballgames.

Blue in Yarmouth

December 22nd, 2009 at 12:58 PM ^

but a great football player can take over a game just as easily as a player in another sport.

Look at Barry Sanders, who did he have blocking for him?

In hockey, volleyball, rugby, basketball, baseball, and basically every other sport I have played at an organized level, I can say that you need your team to work as a unit if you want to win. In each of those sports a single player can dominate from time to time and make it seem like they are doing it themselves, but I assure you they aren't.

Kilgore Trout

December 22nd, 2009 at 11:31 AM ^

I can definitely understand your points, and I think that our different backgrounds make a big difference. I played baskeball all through high school and made great friends that I still hang out with and play rec ball today. I think that if I have a son and he wants to play football, I will probably not stand in the way of it, but it will absolutely worry the crap out of me a lot more than if he was playing basketball.


December 22nd, 2009 at 11:46 AM ^

You know one of my fondest memories of football in HS was one were I got a bit dinged up and was on turf. Looked over at the stands and saw my dad having to restrain my mom from running down onto the field. I guess its more funny than anything as I only had the wind knocked out but still it did show that my mom was worried about my brother and I playing football.


December 22nd, 2009 at 10:05 AM ^

Agree with the OP and with Pants. I was watching the Cowboys-Saints game and that bastion of good sense, Matt Millen, was commenting on some player suffering a head-first collision, and he went into the normal "this is a tough game, you are going to get hurt, this is why they play." He then ended with "good stuff." I can't recall the play but my wife shrieked in horror when she saw it and then was disgusted at Millen's reaction.

I then reminded her that Millen was the Lions' GM for 8 years and she demanded I change the channel so we didn't have to listen to him.

But to the OP's point, my son will never play football unless he's a kicker/punter. There are plenty of other sports to play that don't run the risk of turning your brain into flaming, steaming pile of cow dung.

MI Expat NY

December 22nd, 2009 at 10:47 AM ^

I can see not wanting your son to be in the NFL, but lets not go overboard. The vast majority of high school football players don't even go on to play college football and the vast majority suffer no longterm disability from their football days. I can't name one of my football teammates that suffer today from football related injuries, and several of them played in college. Most people I know who suffer from dibilatating injuries had injuries that occured while playing basketball or soccer as adults (or even from running too much on pavement).

At the high school level, there's been tons of improvement on dealing with concussions (in all sports, not just football). The training staff at high schools is better than it was 20,30 years ago. All in all, if your son decides to play organized football, he will be well taken care of. Freak accidents do occur, but they happen in other sports too. Kids have died from taking a lacrosse ball to the chest. Baseball players get hit in the face/head. Cheerleaders (Cheerleaders!) suffer terrible injuries from falls. If your son wants to play football, he'll be fine. I promise.


December 22nd, 2009 at 11:07 AM ^

What? You can make no guarantees regarding being safe from injury in any sport.

I happen to think, however, the chance for significant injury is much greater when you are hitting someone at full speed 80-100 times every day in a practice for football, as opposed to doing a zone defense drill in basketball.

There's little need to try and prove one side wrong or not on this matter. People who play football swear there's nothing wrong with kids in their youth, high school and college playing it. And then there's people like me who see and hear the stories of Mike Webster, Andre Waters, Dave Pear, Kyle Turley, Earl Campbell, Mark Schlereth (22 knee operations), Steve Everitt (complained of the pain in an article last year), and thousands of others battered by football.

MI Expat NY

December 22nd, 2009 at 11:42 AM ^

I just feel that people taking these NFL players and claiming that's prototypical of youth/high school football is a bit silly. Yes, football is a physical sport and there tend to be more injuries, but most of these injuries heal. Most kids only have so many opportunities to have repeated severe injuries. That's the difference. All the NFL players you listed played at least 9 years of post-high school football (including longer seasons, spring practice/mini camps, etc.). If a kid needs to have his second knee surgery, and he's not an all-world athlete, he's probably never going to put himself in the position to need surgeries 3-22. An additional factor is that NFL players suffer their injuries when they're older. I'm in my late 20's now and every time I play basketball, touch football or (don't laugh) dodgeball, I feel it the next day. My body doesn't recover like it did when I was 23. I can only imagine what it must be like to be in your late 20's and take a pounding of an NFL game.

st barth

December 22nd, 2009 at 10:52 AM ^

Football is brutal but it's still more fun than sending our young men to be slaughtered on battlefields.

The brevity & brutality of the career is also why I don't object to the large salaries of football players. Compared to other sports, it's really not that financially lucrative.

I think the real issue is that the NFL should do a better job of providing for ex-players. It would appear that the league is very profitable so at the least, they should provide ex-players with excellent health-care & disability if not some kind of modest profit sharing plan.


December 22nd, 2009 at 11:08 AM ^

I am not happy with your comment about the military but will let it slide since this isn't the forum for that comment.

I was very athletic and played lots of sports as a kid, but quit all of them as I entered high school as I found that most of the kids I like had quit playing, what was left was mostly a lot of typical jocks. ( I exagerate a bit) but most were not guys I wanted to hang out with and the coaches were worse, jerks and loud mouths that was all that was really left. They sucked all the life out of sports for me so I quit, I played sports because I had fun, when I stopped having fun, I quit. If you hypothetical son has fun, great if not move on. Don't be that parent that forces a kid to play just because they liked the sport.

Hoken's Heroes

December 22nd, 2009 at 11:41 AM ^

is to get rid of helmets. On the surface it sounds ridiculous but since they have made the attempt to make the gear more safe, the more violent the game has been (the idea is that one can hit harder since the protection is there). Take away the protection and guys will think twice about leading with their head. Of course it will never happen but there is something to the hypothesis that the more safe the gear becomes, the more violent the hits. Obviously the gear isn't all that safe or protective.

Blue in Yarmouth

December 22nd, 2009 at 1:12 PM ^

and actually think it might work (though as you say, they would never do it).

My family comes from Wales and we still have a lot of family over there. We visit often and I actually feel more Welsh than Canadian (both parents moved here from Wales). As such I took on the love a rugby at a young age and have played it through my youth and followed it my entire life.

Rugby is similar to football but the don't wear the protective gear. Some of the position players wear a form of cap that protects their ears during the rucks but other than that it is simply a cup.

Due in large part to the lack of equipment, you don't see flying through the air like a spear in order to tackle someone. If no one is wearing proective equipment you would likely see a drastic degrease in the spped at which the game was played and thus, a drop in injuries.

Having said that, it would no longer be the game I love to watch either.

Not saying it is a good idea, but I do think it would work to an extent.


December 22nd, 2009 at 1:32 PM ^

LSU's defensive backs would never make a tackle if helmets weren't permitted.

I can think of at least two disgusting LSU players' "helmet-led" tackles that caused injury to opposing players this past year (one against Caleb King of Georgia, and one against an Arkansas WR near the end zone in the 4th quarter).


December 22nd, 2009 at 11:49 AM ^

Both in the force of the hits and in the lack of flexibility of the body (age) to bend with the hits.

The NFL is brutal. Playing through multiple injuries/surgeries at that level of force/collisions will do that to you.

Blue in Yarmouth

December 22nd, 2009 at 1:19 PM ^

It is quite interesting and scary to say the least. There definitely seems to be an "unwrutten" rule in the NFL that players need to play through injuries and it has lead many to push the envelope with disasterous consequences.

As a Dr. I have been intrigued by this and followed it somewhat over the past few years. Just a couple of weeks ago you had Hines Ward calling big Ben for not playing in a game because of a concussion. The interviewer told Hines that the Dr. was holding him out of the game and still Ward mentioned that many guys will still play in spite of that.

I also remember a story about an ex-hockey player (can't remember who it was) who had multiple concussions during his career and suffered from post concussion syndrome. He said that many times he has left his house to go to the store and forgets where he lives by the time he heads for home.

This is a serious issue in sports today and I hope the powers that be start taking it seriously and stop simply giviing it lip service. These flimsy rules that leagues are coming out with are not the answer IME. They have to be more strict and follow very closely if they are to change anything.

Sgt. Wolverine

December 22nd, 2009 at 1:45 PM ^

The article was sobering, but the one thing that bothered me was that I think he took it way, way too far in saying "Don't let your kids play football. Never." Is it really that common for youth and high school football players to suffer life-altering injuries? Is it common enough to be worth trying to prevent your kids from playing a sport they might actually want to play? I doubt it. If your kid wants to play football, don't try to scare him out of it by taking the potential long-term effects of a professional career and applying them to the youth and high school levels.

Blue in Yarmouth

December 22nd, 2009 at 1:57 PM ^

I have no statistcal data to back this up but in my experience teenagers driving cars have far more serious injuries and far more often than teenage football players.

I wonder if these people that won't let their kids play football (or don't want them to) will let them have a license which is a far greater risk than playing any sport.