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Direckshun 01-29-2013 02:34 PM

The history of the NFL's response to brain trauma: not so good.
This stuff is really starting to work against my interest in the NFL.

I am having difficulty trying to appreciate a league that has been negligent in caring for its players.

This isn't a new topic, but seeing it laid out like this... well. This is a business dragging its feet on giving a shit about its players.

I'm happy it's getting better, but I feel unclean supporting this enterprise.

The NFL's Response to Brain Trauma: A Brief History
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Jan 25 2013, 11:36 AM ET

We've spent quite a bit of time discussing the NFL and head trauma. One rather constant claim is that the NFL has always been always been straight about head trauma and that players "knew the risks." I think it's helpful to weigh that claim against the actual history. Here is one rendition of that history.

1992 - Al Toon suffers his fifth reported concussion in six seasons. Asked if he will retire Toon says, he's "not thinking about retirement right now."

A week later Toon retires saying, "I feel better sitting still than moving around. I get real tired. Things I normally help with around the house, I can't."

1994 - The NFL establishes the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee. Rheumatologist Elliot Pellman is installed as its chair. "Concussions are part of the profession, an occupational risk," rheumatologist Pellman tells Sports Illustrated. He says that a football player is "like a steelworker who goes up 100 stories, or a soldier."

Pellman continues--"Veterans clear more quickly than rookies...They can unscramble their brains a little faster, maybe because they're not afraid after being dinged. A rookie won't know what's happened to him and will be a little panicky. The veterans almost expect the dings. You have to watch them, though, because vets will try to fool you. They memorize the answers. They'll run off the field staring at the scoreboard."

1995 - The Jets try to improve Boomer Esiason's recovery time from a concussion by employing what the Times calls a "innovative but unproved form of biofeedback therapy." The Jets team physician explains the treatment as "having a head filled with marbles knocked around after a hit. The biofeedback is trying to put them back in the same order." The Jets team physician admits that they have no controls to show whether the treatment is effective. The Jets team physician is Elliot Pellman.

1997 - The American Academy of Neurology establishes guidelines for concussed athletes returning to play. The guidelines recommend holding athletes who suffer a Grade 3 concussion (loss of consciousness) be taken "withheld from play until asymptomatic for 1 week at rest and with exertion."

2000 - The NFL rejects these guidelines. ''We don't know whether being knocked out briefly is any more dangerous than having amnesia and not being knocked out,'' says neurologist Mark R. Lovell. ''We see people all the time that get knocked out briefly and have no symptoms,'' he added. ''Others get elbowed, go back to the bench and say, 'Where am I?' ''

Lovell is a consultant for NFL and the NHL.

2002 - Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steeler center Mike Webster dies. Towards the end of his life Webster was living out a pick-up truck, using a Taser to ease back pain, and applying Super Glue to his teeth.

2003 - In a game against the New York Giants, Kurt Warner suffers a concussion. Confusion ensues over the medical chain of command. Warner's coach, Mike Martz, says that the team doctor cleared Warner to play. The doctor, Bernard T. Garfinkel, agrees. But asked why Warner was allowed to play even though he "had trouble deciphering plays," Garfinkel says, "That's a coaching decision, not a medical decision."

Warner leaves Giant stadium in an ambulance.

"I would say it's not the coach; it's ultimately the physician's decision," says Pellman. "But you can't have a hard and fast protocol, because the injury is all over the place."

2003 - Wayne Chrebet suffers a concussion in a November game against the Giants. The following discussion between Pellman and Chrebet takes place:


"There's going to be some controversy about you going back to play." Elliot Pellman looks Wayne Chrebet in the eye in the fourth quarter of a tight game, Jets vs. Giants on Nov. 2, 2003, at the Meadowlands.

A knee to the back of the head knocked Chrebet stone-cold unconscious a quarter earlier, and now the Jets' team doctor is putting the wideout through a series of mental tests. Pellman knows Chrebet has suffered a concussion, but the player is performing adequately on standard memory exercises.

"This is very important for you," the portly physician tells the local hero, as was later reported in the New York Daily News. "This is very important for your career."

Then he asks, "Are you okay?"

When Chrebet replies, "I'm fine," Pellman sends him back in.
2004 - In September, former Steelers offensive linemen Justin Strzelczyk leads the police on a high speed chase through central New York, colliding at 90 MPH with a tractor trailer. The trailer explodes, killing Strzelcyzyk instantly.

Neuropathologist Bennet Omalu later finds evidence of CTE in Strzelczyk's brain. Dr Ronald Hamilton of the University of Pittsburgh confirms Omalu's assessment: "If I didn't know anything about this case and I looked at the slides, I would have asked, 'Was this patient a boxer?'"

2005 - In January, Pellman and MTBI publish their seventh in a series of research papers on concussions, concluding, in part, "Return to play does not involve a significant risk of a second injury either in the same game or during the season."

2005 - In March, the Times reports that Pellman has exaggerated his credentials.

2005 - In June, former Pittsburgh Steelers guard Terry Long commits suicide by drinking antifreeze. Neuropathologist Bennet Omalu later examines Long's brain and concludes he suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

"People with chronic encephalopathy suffer from depression. The major depressive disorder may manifest as suicide attempts. Terry Long committed suicide due to the chronic traumatic encephalopathy due to his long-term play," Dr. Omalu tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "The NFL has been in denial."

Steelers neurosurgeon Joseph Maroon says Omalu is employing "fallacious reasoning" saying "I don't think it's plausible at all ... to go back and say that he was depressed from playing in the NFL and that led to his death 14 years later, I think is purely speculative."

2005 - In July the peer-reviewed journal Neurosurgery prints Omalu's autopsy and brain analysis of "Iron" Mike Webster. Omalu concludes that Webster suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

2006 - Pellman's MTBI committee releases research concluding that "on-field evaluation by team physicians is effective with regard to the identification of cognitive and memory impairments immediately after an injury."
The paper also again rejects The American Academy of Neurology's guidelines, concluding that:


...current attempts to link prospective grading of concussion symptoms to arbitrary, rigid management decisions are not consistent with scientific data. We believe that if one insists on grading concussion severity, the best way is retrospectively, on the basis of how long it actually takes the player to become asymptomatic, with normal results on neurological examination. It is the recommendation of the NFL's Committee on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury that team physicians treat their players on a case-by-case basis, using their best clinical judgment and basing their decisions on the most relevant, objective medical data obtained.
2006 - In May,The NFL's MTBI committee attack Bennett Omalu's analysis of Webster claiming it contains "serious flaws." The committee then demands a retraction.

2006 - In November, former Philadelphia Eagles safety Andre Waters shoots himself in the head. After examining his brain, Omalu diagnoses Waters as having suffered from CTE. Waters was 44 at the time of his death. Omalu says he had the brain of an 85-year old man.

MBTI member and Baltimore Ravens physician Andrew Tucker says, "The picture is not really complete until we have the opportunity to look at the same group of people over time."

2007 - In May, the NFL commissioner establishes a league-wide minimum for "baseline neurological tests" to be mandatory on sidelines. Goodell announces an offseason "concussion summit." "We're protecting the players against the players."

2007 - An NFL safety pamphlet notifies players, "Current research with professional athletes has not shown that having more than one or two concussions leads to permanent problems if each injury is managed properly."

2009 - NFL spokesman Greg Aiello acknowledges, "It's quite obvious from the medical research that's been done that concussions can lead to long-term problems,"

2009 - The NFL begins to put up posters in locker rooms that state, in part, "Concussions and conditions resulting from repeated brain injury can change your life and your family's life forever."

"This is about Roger Goodell, that fraud, covering his own ass," says former defensive lineman Dave Pear.

2009 - Goodell testifies in front of a House Judiciary Committee saying, "My approach to this concussion issue in football has been simple and direct - medical considerations must always take priority over competitive considerations."

2010 - Responding to research from neurologist Ann McKee on CTE, Ira Casson, co-chairman of the MTBI, tells Congress that, "Tau deposition is the predominant pathology in a number of other neurologic diseases that have never been linked to athletics or head trauma. Some of these diseases have genetic causes, some have environmental toxic causes, and others are still of unknown cause."

2010 - In March, the NFL creates a new committee to study concussions, distancing itself from Pellman and Ira Casson. Prominent neurologists Dr. H. Hunt Batjer and Dr. Richard G. Ellenbogen are appointed as co-chairs. Batjer says the following about the MBTI: "We all had issues with some of the methodologies... the inherent conflict of interest... that was not acceptable by any modern standards or not acceptable to us."

2010 - In September, Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb and linebacker Stewart Bradley suffer concussions. ESPN reports that Kolb "slammed into the turf, his eyes closed for several seconds and he was slow to get up and walk to the sideline," while Bradley, "on all fours, struggled to get up on his own power, stumbled for a few steps and toppled to the ground."

Both players had concussions. Both were returned to the game.

2010 - In a display of seriousness over player safety, Steelers linebacker James Harrison is fined $75,000 for his hit on Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi in an October game. Somewhat undercutting this display, the NFL sells pictures of the hit on its website.

okoye35chiefs 01-29-2013 02:35 PM

the military's response may be even slower...

Xanathol 01-29-2013 03:06 PM

FFS, the conditions were studied and what do you know? The more concussions have been studied, the more that has been learned! There's nothing negligent in reporting only what is known at the time. Quite honestly, you'd have to be an idiot to think that anything as physical as football wouldn't be bad for your body - or brain - in the long run. If all people are responsible for all other people's decisions & consequences, the human race is in trouble.

The scientifically pathetic part is the "signs of CTE are depression" - I guess half of America has CTE then! Athletes that make it to the professional level often have trouble moving on with their life after sports, head trauma or not. Everybody's All American - watch it - its a nicely done movie that while it claims to not be inspired by Billy Cannon, sure as heck mimics his ordeals pretty well in a round about way ( minus a bit of counterfeiting... ). Point is, most athletes suffer depression when they can no longer do the one thing they knew how to do for most of their life.

loochy 01-29-2013 03:33 PM

What the hell do you want them to do? Fold the league?

If dudes don't want to get hit in the head, don't play football. That's part of the reason they get paid so much.

sedated 01-29-2013 04:54 PM


Originally Posted by loochy (Post 9362341)
That's part of the reason they get paid so much.

No, its not.

A compelling reason for us to not care, maybe, but there's no correlation.

Bewbies 01-29-2013 04:56 PM

Obama comes out and talks about feeling guilty about watching football. All of the sudden Barackshun comes out and feels guilty too. Coincidence? LMAO

Mr. Laz 01-29-2013 04:59 PM

I've read that the NFLPA has the same concussion information as the NFL and did nothing either.

also that the NFLPA blocked some kind of special helmet monitor to study concussions that the NFL tried to use.

It would be interesting to know who much the Union has ignore concussions as well

ForeverChiefs58 01-29-2013 05:31 PM

You post like you have brain damage

mikey23545 01-29-2013 05:35 PM


Originally Posted by Bewbies (Post 9362564)
Obama comes out and talks about feeling guilty about watching football. All of the sudden Barackshun comes out and feels guilty too. Coincidence? LMAO

Obama has his hand up Ereckshuns ass and uses him for a puppet.

HotCarl 01-29-2013 05:37 PM

You get paid millions to play a child's game, and you know full well the risks. I don't feel sorry for you.

Maybe the NFL should just come up with some larger helmets or something.

WhiteWhale 01-29-2013 08:55 PM

Yeah, because this wasn't an obvious issue 15 years ago.

Why is it all of a sudden the world declares "Oh my god... who knew slamming your head into something hard over and over caused problems?" I know the NFL said it didn't, but every ****in' neurologist in the world did. All they did was give the condition a new scientific name (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) when any moron could observe NFL players acting 'punch drunk'.

Also known decades ago was the danger of suffering further brain trauma while already concussed.

Fans acting all outraged now spent decades willfully ignorant of the obvious, and frankly can kiss my ass.

A lot of jobs in the world come with risks... some far greater than NFL players. They also make a hell of a lot less money.

Cephalic Trauma 01-29-2013 09:31 PM

<-- Brain Trauma, eh?

Call me the ****ing prophet

Edit: Mods, can I get a name change?

Strongside 01-29-2013 09:33 PM

2013-Gil Brandt, George Toma, Adam Teicher, Bob Fescoe and a slew of others advocate Matt Cassel returning as starter. Brain trauma reaches an all-time low. Football is banned in the United States.

Cephalic Trauma 01-29-2013 09:40 PM


Originally Posted by Cephalic Trauma (Post 9363435)
<-- Brain Trauma, eh?

Call me the ****ing prophet

Edit: Mods, can I get a name change?

**** it. I'll pm Bob Dole.

Mr. Laz 01-29-2013 10:47 PM


Originally Posted by HotCarl (Post 9362656)
You get paid millions to play a child's game, and you know full well the risks. I don't feel sorry for you.

Maybe the NFL should just come up with some larger helmets or something.

The NFL already has larger/special helmets made to help reduce concussions.

They just can't get players to wear them, only a few have so far.

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