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Doctors: N.F.L. Great Ken Stabler Suffered From C.T.E. Due To Concussions

Ken Stabler

The family of N.F.L. great Ken Stabler, the former Oakland Raiders Quarterback who died last July after a long battle with cancer, has revealed that post-mortem tests reveal that Stabler suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, now known popularly as C.T.E., the chronic brain disease that has been diagnosed in countless numbers of professional football players in recent years:

Shortly before he died last July, the former N.F.L. quarterback Ken Stablerwas rushed away by doctors, desperate to save him, in a Mississippi hospital. His longtime partner followed the scrum to the elevator, holding his hand. She told him that she loved him. Stabler said that he loved her, too.

“I turned my head to wipe the tears away,” his partner, Kim Bush, said recently. “And when I looked back, he looked me dead in the eye and said, ‘I’m tired.’ ”

They were the last words anyone in Stabler’s family heard him speak.

“I knew that was it,” Bush said. “I knew that he had gone the distance. Because Kenny Stabler was never tired.”

The day after Stabler died on July 8, a victim of colon cancer at age 69, his brain was removed during an autopsy and ferried to scientists in Massachusetts. It weighed 1,318 grams, or just under three pounds. Over several months, it was dissected for clues, as Stabler had wished, to help those left behind understand why his mind seemed to slip so precipitously in his final years.

On a scale of 1 to 4, Stabler had high Stage 3 chronic traumaticencephalopathy, or C.T.E., the degenerative brain disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head, according to researchers at Boston University. The relationship between blows to the head and brain degeneration is still poorly understood, and some experts caution that other factors, like unrelated mood problems or dementia, might contribute to symptoms experienced by those later found to have had C.T.E.

Stabler, well known by his nickname, the Snake (“He’d run 200 yards to score from 20 yards out,” Stabler’s junior high school coach told Sports Illustrated in 1977), is one of the highest-profile football players to have had C.T.E. The list, now well over 100, includes at least seven members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including Junior Seau, Mike Webster and Frank Gifford.

Few, if any, had the free-spirited charisma of Stabler, a longhaired, left-handed quarterback from Alabama who personified the renegade Oakland Raiders in the 1970s. Stabler was the N.F.L.’s most valuable player in 1974 and led the Raiders to their first Super Bowl title two seasons later. He ended his 15-year N.F.L. career with the New Orleans Saints in 1984.

“He had moderately severe disease,” said Dr. Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology at the V.A. Boston Healthcare System and a professor of neurology and pathology at Boston University School of Medicine, who conducted the examination. “Pretty classic. It may be surprising since he was a quarterback, but certainly the lesions were widespread, and they were quite severe, affecting many regions of the brain.”

Quarterbacks are provided more protection from hits than most football players. An offensive line’s purpose is, in part, to protect the quarterback, and leagues like the N.F.L. have special rules to discourage severe blows to players in the most important position on the field.

But Stabler’s diagnosis further suggests that no position in football, except perhaps kicker, is immune from progressive brain damage linked to hits to the head, both concussive and subconcussive.

Stabler is the seventh former N.F.L. quarterback to be found to have had C.T.E. by Boston University, which has found C.T.E. in 90 of the 94 former N.F.L. players it has examined, including the former Giants safety Tyler Sash, who died in September at age 27 and whose diagnosis was made public last week.

On Wednesday, the family of another Super Bowl quarterback, Earl Morrall, told The New York Times that Morrall was found to have Stage 4 C.T.E. following his death in 2014 at age 79.

(…)

Because C.T.E. can be diagnosed only posthumously, and most brains are not examined for the disease, incidence rates among athletes and nonathletes are difficult to ascertain. A study by the Mayo Clinic, released last fall, found C.T.E. in 21 of 66 men who played contact sports (mostly football), but found no traces of the disease in 198 other brains of men who had no exposure to contact sports.

Scientists are quick to note that they do not understand why some football players get C.T.E. and others do not.

But the disease, once thought to mostly afflict boxers, has been found in recent years in deceased athletes who have played soccer, rugby and even baseball.

Most brains are donated by families hoping to understand why their loved one’s cognitive functions declined in later years. Symptoms of C.T.E. are similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, including memory loss, confusion, impulsiveness and depression.

“On some days, when he wasn’t feeling extremely bad, things were kind of normal,” Bush said. “But on other days it was intense. I think Kenny’s head rattled for about 10 years.”

For decades, the N.F.L. rebutted research by independent experts that connect brain trauma to long-term cognitive impairment. Only in recent years, long after Stabler’s career ended, has the league begun to publicly acknowledge it has a problem.

(…)

It was not until the final few years that his family recognized a rapid decline in his cognitive functions, too. Several symptoms — which cannot be conclusively attributed to C.T.E. — began to show themselves quickly, beginning with Stabler’s complaints of a high-pitched ringing in his head. In his final year, he once grit his teeth so hard that he broke a bridge in his mouth and had to get dental implants.

“There were days when I walked in the door and looked at his face, and I could tell,” Bush said. “He was sitting in his chair, because he was always waiting for me, and the news was on and whatnot, and he had his head laid back, and his eyes just scrunched up so tight that I used to think that would give you a headache in itself, just the pure pressure of squinting like that.”

Noise and bright lights became enemies. A lifelong lover of music, Stabler stopped listening to the radio in the car, choosing to drive hours in silence. He increasingly complained about the clanging of kitchen dishes and the volume of the television.

Family and friends found him repeating himself, sharing stories privately or during public events that he had told just minutes before. He lost his sense of direction, pointing north when he spoke about the coast just a few miles south of his home in Gulfport, Miss. Driving, he became flustered at four-way stop signs.

In the fall of 2014, he moved to Arizona to be closer to his oldest daughter, Kendra Stabler Moyes, 45, and her twin sons, 17-year-old Justin and Jack, who play high school football.

“I remember them calling me and saying, ‘Mom, Papa keeps stopping at green lights,’ ” Stabler Moyes said.

The release of the news about Stabler now comes at the same time that he is being posthumously considered for a spot in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. Last year after he died, it was announced that Stabler was part of the class being considered for induction in the Hall in 2016. The final selection for the list of inductees is being considered this week in advance of Super Bowl 50 and will be announced on Saturday at the N.F.L.’s annual pre-Super Bowl awards show. Many analysts expected prior to this announcement that Stabler would likely be included among the inductees announced this week, and hopefully that status will not be impacted by this report. The announcement also comes in the wake of the announcement made late last year that New York Giants legend and longtime football analyst Frank Gifford, who died in his sleep in August at the age of 84, also suffered from C.T.E. based on examination of his brain after he had passed away. While it’s clear that neither Stabler nor Gifford died as a result of the brain disease, anecdotal evidence from family members in both cases indicated that it apparently did have some impact on their short and long term memory and other cognitive abilities later in life. It also adds to the long list of former N.F.L. stars who have been diagnosed with the disease after death, including long-time Chargers, Dolphins, and Patriots great Junior Seau, who killed himself at the age of 43 by a gunshot to the chest, also suffered from the disease. Seau’s family joined many other former players and their families in suing the N.F.L. in litigation that remains open despite apparent settlement, and was nearly prevented from speaking when Seau was inducted into the Hall of Fame himself last year. The speech that Seau’s daughter wanted to give was ultimately published in The New York Times. The news also comes just two months after the release of Concussion, a movie starring Will Smith that tells the story of ‘ Dr. Bennet Omahu, who is profiled in this piece in The Wall Street Journal.  Omahu ithe person who first confirmed the existence of a chronic brain disorder subsequently found in many athletes who play football and other high impact sports. The disease, now called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or more commonly C.T.E., was first discovered by Oamhu in his examination of the brain of Mike Webster, the former Pittsburgh Steelers star Hall Of Fame inductee who died in 2002.

Obviously, this announcement comes at a particularly uncomfortable time for the N.F.L. Super Bowl week has become a time when the league highlights its best under the glare of international media attention, and the announcement of the incoming Hall of Fame class has become an important and celebrated part of the pre-game activities that began on Monday with much-hyper press appearances by both the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers that was even covered live on the NFL Network. At this point, the news about Stabler would seem to put the league in something of an uncomfortable position. If Stabler does make the list of inductees, as he should, then the stories about C.T.E. will inevitably come up an be part of the media attention. If he isn’t then someone is bound to ask if this announcement had something to do with it, and if the league is trying to minimize press attention on an embarrassing issue that is still the subject of litigation. Beyond the public relations issues, though, the news about Stabler, like the news about Gifford is likely to serve as yet more evidence about the dangers of concussions in sports in general and football in particular, and to increase the pressure on the N.F.L. and other governing bodies to find ways to increase protection of all players from the impact of repeated concussions. It’s also likely to continue to raise questions among parents and younger players about the safety of playing the game given the current state of safety technology.

As I said when the Giffords news came out, football as a game is not going anywhere notwithstanding news like this. The N.F.L. is the most profitable and successful sports league in the United States and Super Bowl 50 will likely draw record audiences, especially given that fans will be getting to a chance to see future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning facing off against rising star Cam Newton in what is likely to be Manning’s last professional football game regardless of whether the Broncos win or lose. At the same time, though, the ongoing issues related to concussions and C.T.E. are not going away, and as more football greats pass away we’re likely to learn that the problem is far more widespread than we know even today. At some point, the powers that be, be it the N.F.L., the N.C.A.A., or the various bodies that regular football below the college level, will be forced to do something to deal with this issue and to at lease minimize the problem as much as possible. Otherwise, it’s unclear how many young men will want to play the game in the future.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    The NFL may be in more trouble than you think. The voters are increasing to object to to to tax payer dollars being used to build venues for for NFL teams. Perhaps even more threatening is that white families are refusing to let their sons play football. I was one of those almost 30 years ago when I refused to let let my sons play football.

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  2. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Otherwise, it’s unclear how many young men will want to play the game in the future.

    Some still join the army despite the fact that they may end up getting killed or injured (physically or mentally.)

    People with means will not let their kids play certain sports like football, but poor kids will continue to do so, look at boxing.

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  3. Tyrell says:

    I would like to see some comparisons to the other major sports: NHL hockey, soccer, basketball, golf, car racing, and pro wrestling.
    Obviously either the rules need to be substantially changed to non-contact, or they need to come up with more effective helmets like right now. Otherwise, you can number the future Super Bowls on one hand.

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  4. James Pearce says:

    “and to increase the pressure on the N.F.L. and other governing bodies to find ways to increase protection of all players from the impact of repeated concussions.”

    Seems to me that many of these folks are more interested in splashing the NFL with mud than they are in protecting the players from CTE. A lot of self-righteous people have basically boycotted the game, but they’re not proposing rule changes to make the game safer or even asking themselves if there’s any amount of risk they would find acceptable. (As a football fan, I’m prepared to accept a certain amount of danger in the whole endeavor. How much it too much? It’s a good question that should be asked.)

    They just seem to be incredibly uncomfortable with the sport and even more, uncomfortable with the sport’s popularity.

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  5. Davebo says:

    It’s a violent sport. Concussion rates are up but that’s surely due to more reporting than in the past.

    But Football long ago surpassed baseball as the nations sport or choice. And players are now well aware of the risks involved yet they continue to play.

    For the league and owners it’s a billion dollar business but it’s also a billion dollar business for the players and it’s something they love to do.

    Steps have been taking to minimize the problem from state of the art protective equipment to rule changes making hits to the head result in costly penalties.

    But if you ask most players, they’d tell you it’s the hits to the knees or back they fear the most.

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  6. Kevin DeMichaelis says:

    @James Pearce: They aren’t willing to propose rule changes that’ll make the game safer? On the contrary, many (if not most) realize that there are no rule changes that will reduce the likelihood of brain trauma while keeping the game recognizable.

    Repetitive brain injuries are part and parcel of tackle football. The growing evidence is that CTE is caused by the thousands of sub-concussive hits that the brain takes on the football field whenever a player hits his head against (a) another player’s head, (b) another player’s body, or (c) against the ground.

    On every play, at least half the players are engaged in collisions that result in one or more of these types of hits.

    There is no helmet that will stop this. There is no other form of technology that will stop it either. The brain will keep on hitting the skull, resulting in a sub-concussive impact that leads to CTE, on every play where a player’s head is engaged in a collision.

    The only solution is to ban tackle football and move to flag football–which is obviously changing the game beyond any recognition.

    So those who have been following this issue for even the briefest length of time are well aware that there are no solutions. The only answer is to stop playing football.

    Now will a $9-billion dollar league (the NFL) and a much, much larger industry (tackle football) which includes 2 million Pop Warner kids, 1.2 million high school football players, 100,000 college football players, and the 2-3,000 pro players voluntarily make changes to the game to avoid CTE?

    You and I both know the answer: No.

    So the only solution is to have parents stop signing their kids up for Pop Warner and high school ball, which will dry up the talent stream for colleges, which will dry up the talent stream for the pros, and will eventually cause professional tackle football to become a shadow of its former self.

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  7. James Pearce says:

    @Kevin DeMichaelis:

    So the only solution is to have parents stop signing their kids up for Pop Warner and high school ball, which will dry up the talent stream for colleges, which will dry up the talent stream for the pros, and will eventually cause professional tackle football to become a shadow of its former self.

    Easier said than done.

    Most, if not all, of the parents who refuse to sign their kids up for football due to CTE fears have done so, and while there may be some stragglers who can be convinced with more horror stories, what’s really going to happen is that these people will self-select themselves out of football culture, and football culture will continue on without them.

    Another approach will be needed. I mean, yes, we could ban tackle football and reduce the CTE cases. And we could also ban cars to reduce traffic fatalities. In both cases, the cure would be worse than the disease.

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  8. James Pearce says:

    Driving home from work (I work 2nd shift) I thought of a few rule changes that could help reduce football’s concussion problem while still retaining the beauty of the game. Obviously the first thing you’d want to do is encourage the players to be smaller, lighter, faster. (The NBA has pulled this off to a certain extent.)

    Back up the defensive line off the line of scrimmage. Remove the tackles on both sides of the line, just go with two guards, a center, and the tight ends on offense, a noseguard and just the linebackers on D. Spread the line out more. Create more space for the players. More space = less contact.

    (Again, picture smaller, faster players. They won’t be smashing into each other every down because by the time they find each other, the play will have developed, either there or somewhere else.)

    Here’s another one: If the defense strips the ball, they get it. Forget who recovers it. If your defense knocks the ball out, your offense takes the field. Tackling will become as rare as the drop kick.

    There’s a whole bunch of things the NFL can do to make the game safer and more interesting, and it’s obvious to any fan that they do this already. Every year there’s some tweak or clarification, and yeah, they’re slow. They do things in seasons. Of course they’re slow.

    But they’ll get there. They are, after all, an organization in thrall to millions of fans and billions of dollars.

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  9. anjin-san says:

    @Davebo:

    Concussion rates are up but that’s surely due to more reporting than in the past.

    It could also be due to players being bigger, faster, and stronger. At any rate, I don’t enjoy NFL football any more, and I grew up being a hardcore football fan. I can’t stand watching these knuckleheads celebrate when they make a tackle. You’re a football player, you are supposed to make tackles. Gastineau set the game on a downward path.

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  10. Tony W says:

    @anjin-san:

    I don’t enjoy NFL football any more

    Yeah, but how much of that is simply a result of living where the ’49ers play? :)

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  11. Pete S says:

    @Tyrell: I remember seeing a report (sorry, no link, I cannot find it) that concussion rates for kids are as high or higher in soccer as in hockey. The authors figured it was because soccer players wear no helmets but still can fall and hit their heads on the ground, as well as the risk of head to head hits or even getting kicked in the head when the ball is in the air.

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  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    I mean, yes, we could ban tackle football and reduce the CTE cases. And we could also ban cars to reduce traffic fatalities. In both cases, the cure would be worse than the disease.

    Reality check: One of these is not like the other. If football ended right this very second the entire economy of the world would not come to a screeching halt. People would just start watching basketball. And for the record, football IS the disease. If a parent did to a child what is done on a football field, they would be locked up and have their children taken away. You know it, I know it, we all know it. Some of us are just a little more willing to face that fact.

    And I say all this as someone who loved to play and watch the game of football, a person who lived for the big hit. You know, the one where the recipient is laying on the field and looking up at the sky and saying, “What happened? Where am I? Who am I?” Yeah, I loved that feeling of total domination of another human being and I really loved that look on their face.

    I thank dog that I don’t have to look at my sons and wonder why I let them play and what might have been done to them.

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  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Pete S: Also there is “heading the ball” in soccer, and while I am skeptical of the effects of that, I have read speculation on it by MDs.

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  14. Guarneri says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    It obviously has had a devastating impact on the game the last 30 years.

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  15. Guarneri says:

    @James Pearce:

    Where would you have the flags attached to their hips?

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  16. James Pearce says:

    @anjin-san:

    I can’t stand watching these knuckleheads celebrate when they make a tackle.

    I dunno, man. I think any big play deserves a celebration.

    Let Cam dance and let Von Miller shovel invisible dirt and throw it over his shoulder.

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  17. Scott says:

    @Tyrell: @Pete S:

    When my son had a serious concussion two years ago (he was starting safety on the high school team) I learned quite a lot about concussions. At the time, his doctor (at Brooke Army Medical Center) was treating about 10 concussions, all HS students. About half were girls playing soccer and volleyball. He also said that many of the teenagers will not report their injuries because it will put them into the recovery protocols.

    I also learned about academic protocols for concussions which most schools have not yet implemented. Parents of kids with concussions need to insist on both protocols.

    It has become a big issue.

    My son dropped off the team. It was the right thing to do but there were tears all around. A very emotional decision.

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  18. James Pearce says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Reality check: One of these is not like the other.

    Banning things outright to prevent possible negative side effects is the hinge of that analogy. It’s not intended to be a comparison between cars and football players.

    And for the record, football IS the disease.

    But is it, though? I think football is a sport of unmatched beauty and sophistication. It’s a chess game with human players, part gladiatorial combat, part military campaign. If you think, like I do, that competitive sports are a civilizing force that is good for the world, then how can you possibly say that football is the disease?

    CTE is the disease. And football is not its only cause.

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  19. Tyrell says:

    @Pete S: Soccer concerns are focusing on the head to head collisions. Some leagues require the goal keeper to wear a helmet.
    And look at pro wrestling : thrown down on concrete floors, hit over the head with chairs, clotheslined, and smashed onto tables.

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  20. anjin-san says:

    @Tony W:

    The pain is mitigated by the Giants & Warriors…

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  21. anjin-san says:

    @James Pearce:

    I think any big play deserves a celebration.

    Hmm. I watched Joe Montana (and teammates) make a lot of big plays back in the day. No dancing, just great football.

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  22. C. Clavin says:

    Otherwise, it’s unclear how many young men will want to play the game in the future.

    Huh?
    They keep buying guns in spite of the fact that owning one increases the risk of you succumbing to gun violence by a factor of 3.
    Peyton Manning made $19M this year. I suspect that’s a pretty strong inducement to play the game.

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  23. Moosebreath says:

    @James Pearce:

    “I dunno, man. I think any big play deserves a celebration.”

    On the other hand, every good but routine play does not. And yet, far too many plays seem to be celebrated, whether it’s miming the refs signaling a first down, or dancing around when you tackle a running back for a 1 yard gain, or wagging a finger at the opposing team’s bench when you knock down a pass.

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  24. WR says:

    @James Pearce: “As a football fan, I’m prepared to accept a certain amount of danger in the whole endeavor.”

    That would be a certain amount of danger to other people, right?

    Big of ya.

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  25. WR says:

    @James Pearce: “I think football is a sport of unmatched beauty and sophistication”

    To each his own. I think football is two hours of beer commercials with an hour left over for play. Life’s too short.

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  26. Tyrell says:

    @James Pearce: Football; mainly a lot of inactivity. They run a play. Walk around, huddle, then do another one. Lots of timeouts and whistle blowing.Compare to soccer : clock hardly ever is stopped. Basketball: can’t beat goal to goal action and fast breaks. Hockey is also a lot of end to end action except when
    the whistle is blown, and then they stand around holding onto each other. Baseball ? Two guys throw the ball back and forth while the others stand and watch.
    Back to football: start the clock and don’t stop it until the quarter ends.

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  27. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Pearce:

    (As a football fan, I’m prepared to accept a certain amount of danger in the whole endeavor. How much it too much? It’s a good question that should be asked.)

    Of course, the amount of danger you’re willing to accept is danger to other people, not to you, right? If, say, someone stood next to you while you watched a football game, and hit you on the head with a closed fist every time there was a tackle on the field, you’d probably be willing to accept a lot less danger….

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  28. gVOR08 says:

    @WR: I see we’re doing NFL in London and IIRC there’s even talk of a team. But some years ago they started broadcasting NFL in England, but they edited out a lot of the dead time. Then they did their first exhibition game. The typical reaction was ‘That takes 3 hours?!’

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  29. James Pearce says:

    @anjin-san:

    No dancing, just great football.

    Great football + dancing > Great football – dancing. It’s a taste thing. I saw Terrell Davis and Shannon Sharpe make a lot of great plays, and I always appreciated the salute or the pummeling of the goalpost.

    @Moosebreath:

    On the other hand, every good but routine play does not.

    Seemingly “routine” plays may reveal an extraordinary individual effort, and I’m not going to tell that guy he can’t celebrate making the play.

    @WR:

    That would be a certain amount of danger to other people, right?

    While I’m sure there are some kids being forced into playing football, I’m assuming most of the people playing football do so willingly, gauging the risks with their own compass. Just like I did when I was playing.

    @Tyrell:

    Football; mainly a lot of inactivity.

    Nah, even when they’re not playing, they’re playing. They’re relaying plays, getting into position, the quarterback’s reading the defense. The defense is moving around, looking for holes, feinting with different looks. It’s a dynamic game with a lot of moving parts, and they’re always in motion, even when the clock is stopped.

    @Rafer Janders:

    Of course, the amount of danger you’re willing to accept is danger to other people, not to you, right?

    Why does it have to be about me? I’m not forcing people to play football. I am, however, quite glad there are people who do play it, because I love the game, just as I’m glad there are people who put themselves in danger to save lives or to go into space or even to climb Mt. Everest, although that last one seems more than pointless.

    There is such a thing as valor, is there not?

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  30. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Pearce:

    Why does it have to be about me?

    Because I was replying to your sentence that began “As a football fan, I’m prepared to accept….”

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  31. Grewgills says:

    A little off topic but, I have no problem with the NFL. All of the players are making informed decisions about the level of risk they are willing to accept. What bothers me is the way sports is treated starting as earlier (or earlier in some cases) than middle school. Student athletes always seem to be athletes first and students second and the coaches are pushing the kids past healthy limits. Every season I have kids coming into my classes wrapped up in cellophane and ice packs. They go out and play injured making their injuries worse for the team. Many of them have illusions that they are going to be professional athletes, when almost none of them will. To that end they sacrifice their bodies and come out of college with battered bodies, damaged joints, and multiple head traumas. Making it worse, when one of these kids is injured the scholarship money dries up and they can’t afford to finish their degree.
    Football and other college sports should move to the baseball model with farm teams rather than college teams draining money away from education.

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  32. EddieInCA says:

    @ James Pearce –

    Obviously you never played.

    Football is not a contact sport. Soccer is a contact sport. Basketball is a contact sport. Hockey is a contact sport. Rugby is a contact sport.

    Football is a COLLISION sport. You want smaller, faster players, given more space to roam? That only means faster collisions. Linemen rarely get concussions. Why, because the contact is up close and personal most of the time. The guys that get alot of concussions are Receivers, Safetys, Linebackers, Running Backs, Tight Ends; those players involved in COLLISIONS.

    Why doesn’t Rugby, which is probably more physical than Football have a concussion problem? Because they don’t launch themselves at each other head first. Doing so might kill them.

    I played High School and College Football as a Wide Receiver and Punt Returner. I got knocked unconscious twice, where I was brought conciousness with help of smelling salts. I was fortunate that I wasn’t good enough to get drafted into the NFL and my football career ended after two years at UCLA.

    Football will eventually go the way of Boxing unless they change it drastically. A small niche sport. It will take 30 years, but it’s coming unless they change the sport. The risks won’t’ be worth it for anyone.

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  33. James Pearce says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Football will eventually go the way of Boxing unless they change it drastically. A small niche sport. It will take 30 years, but it’s coming unless they change the sport.

    Nah, 30 years from now, all these righteous crusaders will be on some new kick and I predict Super Bowl 80 will still be a big ratings draw.

    The CTE problem isn’t going to be fixed by football haters. Thanks though.

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  34. Andre Kenji says:

    @Grewgills: As a Brazilian, I think that you are right. My impression is that juvenile soccer in the United States is a much more aggressive game than in the rest of the world. Maybe that´s why soccer concussions are a much larger issue in the United States than in Latin America or Europe, I don´t know.

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  35. Pete S says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Linemen rarely get concussions. Why, because the contact is up close and personal most of the time.

    A lot of the research seems to suggest that the subconcussive hits cause as much or more damage, because they happen so often. Remember that a lot of the concern and research started because of Mike Webster, a lineman for the Steelers. A center may not get concussed but his head gets hit on every play in a game and in practice.

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  36. anjin-san says:

    @EddieInCA:

    I got knocked unconscious twice, where I was brought conciousness with help of smelling salts

    I remember getting blindsided in practice once, absolutely crushed. For the next few minutes the only color I saw was bright green. Kinda glad something like that only happened to me once.

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  37. anjin-san says:

    @James Pearce:

    Great football + dancing > Great football – dancing. It’s a taste thing. I saw Terrell Davis and Shannon Sharpe make a lot of great plays,

    To each his own. Owens was a remarkable talent, but he cared about no one but himself, had no class, and was ultimately a detriment to the 49ers. He is a good example of what’s wrong with the game today.

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