Monday, April 25, 2016

FORMER NFL PLAYER RELATES HIS NIGHTMARISH CONCUSSION STORY

By Ronald T. Fox

I have now posted eight commentaries on the subject of head injuries in football. The information I used in writing these pieces came from secondary sources, based on what I learned from reading various writings on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). With an expanding body of research on CTE and thousands of concussion lawsuits against the NFL, there is a wealth of information to scrutinize. Not being a football player who experienced blows to the head or a neuroscientist who has actually looked into a diseased brain, I can only offer a layman’s view of the brain injury problem. This is OK as far as it goes, but it is important to also hear first-hand accounts. I recently received such an account from a Phronesis reader who was a former NFL player.
 
In past posts on head injuries in football, I've criticized the NFL for its shoddy research on the long-term effects of concussions,  tardiness in admitting that CTE was a problem, belated implementation of a concussion protocol, and, most recently, for its possible collusion with Big Tobacco and its failure to provide medical care for retired players suffering from traumatic brain injuries.  My recent post, Deadly Deceit: Did the NFL Borrow from Big Tobacco's Script? drew a response from George Visger, who played for the San Francisco 49ers in the early 1980s.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

THE NFL STILL WON'T OWN UP TO THE BRAIN INJURY PROBLEM

By Ronald T. Fox


The following is a re-worked version  of my April 20th response to Phronesis reader Vito D'Albora. It is based on some new information I found that is relevant to the points I wanted to make.  I changed the title to more closely reflect my thesis.   My apologies if much of this is what many of you previously read.  Stay tuned for more on the NFL's despicable behavior over the brain injury issue; tomorrow I will post a comment I received from a former NFL player.


The original D'Albora comment:

Thanks for your well thought out article. I heard a report on NPR that youth participation in football is down by almost 20%. My son has said that he will not let his boys play football.  On the other hand football is so ingrained in the American culture that people will actually watch the NFL combine and a NFL pre-season game will draw more viewers than a MLB playoff game!


My re-formulated response:

I fully understand how deeply ingrained football is in American popular culture. Further revelations about the risks of permanent brain damage are unlikely to diminish the popularity of the game. As long as fans continue to value "big hits" and tough-guy players who shake off injuries, players remain addicted to the huge money they can make, and the NFL persist in prioritizing its bottom line, we can expect neurological risks to be accepted by most fans, players, and league executives. This doesn't mean, however, that the game can't be made safer and the league can't do more to provide medical treatment for players with traumatic brain injuries. An NFL player shouldn't leave the game knowing that there's a three in 10 chance he will develop Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which he will have to face mostly on his own.  Below I offer some suggestions of changes I would like to see implemented.  

Saturday, April 16, 2016

DEADLY DECEIT: DID THE NFL BORROW FROM BIG TOBACCO’S SCRIPT?

By Ronald T. Fox



Back in November of 2014 I posted the first of a series of essays on head injuries in football. In that first post (Head Injuries in Football: The NFL Fumbles), I criticized the NFL for what appeared to be a disingenuous campaign to discount scientific evidence that blows to the head in football could have lasting neurological damage and for its character attacks on scientists who presented the damning evidence. I suggested that league-sponsored research on the question of brain injuries was designed to play down the risks of head hits rather than find out what was really going on. A recent investigation by the New York Times sheds new light on the questionable science employed by NFL in researching the head injury problem.  The Times found that NFL researchers omitted numerous documented concussions from its data bank over the five-year period of its investigation, and—even more troubling—it may have borrowed its deceitful script from the tobacco industry: delay, deflect and distract. The key question in all this remains: did the NFL connive to cover up the risks to player’s health or did its committee of doctors and executives simply err on the side of caution?
 

Friday, April 1, 2016

MARCH 2016 BONEHEAD ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH

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1. Rock and Roller Ted Nugent. I’m used to Nugent’s angry screeds against liberals, but his latest outburst against American Jews ramps his hate up a notch. On his Facebook page, Nugent posted a graphic which pointed to American Jews as being responsible for the push for more gun regulations in the United States.  Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt was quick to respond:
 
“Ted Nugent has a long history of being an equal opportunity offender. But his latest share on Facebook, making the outrageous suggestion that Jews are behind gun control, is nothing short of conspiratorial anti-Semitism. Regardless of one’s views on gun control, this kind of scapegoating of an entire religious group is completely unacceptable and completely divorced from reality.”
 
It should go without saying that anti-Semitism has no place in the gun control debate. Nugent should be ashamed for promoting anti-Semitic content, and we hope that good people on both sides of the gun control debate will reject his tactics and his message. We hope that Nugent will have the good sense to remove this share immediately so that it does not spread virally across the internet. No chance!
 
Not only did Nugent refuse to remove the graphic, he doubled down:
 
“Just when you thought that mankind couldn’t possibly get any dumber or more dishonest, superFreaks rise to the occasion. What sort of racist prejudiced POS could possibly not know that Jews for gun control are Nazis in disguise? "NEVER AGAIN!" Anyone? Anyone?? RUFKM! The founder of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership called me his 2nd Amendment/Freedom hero. The NEVER AGAIN battle cry was universally embraced by all good people who will make sure another Holocaust never happens again. Freaks have plummeted to whole new low. Plummet on punks. Plummet on. Meanwhile I adjust my yamika at my barmitzva playing my kosher guitar. My dad killed Nazis & saved Jews in WWII. Eat me.”
 
Ted Nugent has been on the board of the National Rifle Association since 1995.