Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cultural Change Needed

Interesting story out of Baltimore concerning a conference on concussions where one doctor said the NFL needs a culture change to combat the growing issue.

Couldn't agree more. When you look around and see players like Ted Johnson and the like, as they suffer depression, memory loss, and motor impairment because of repeated concussions, you realize more and more that something needs to be done. It's good the NFL is talking about this stuff, and seems to be taking it seriously. But until some real changes are made in equipment and in-game reporting of concussions, this problem is going to linger for a long time.

At least it's no longer a laughing matter. When I was in high school, back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, a friend of mine was on the football team. Kid we all called Kaz, short for Kaznowitz. Anyway, this one game, he got clocked real good, and a photographer caught him on the sideline with the coach. The coach was obviously yelling at him, trying to make himself understood while Kaz stood there, eyes crossed and a real stupid look on his face. The professor lecturing the village idiot.

Today, he'd have been pulled out of the game and, at the very least, tested. In those days, he went back in. Kaz told us later he didn't remember the game at all. The picture became a joke with us for a long time. Roared, we did. Great fun.

Kinda glad for the Kazes of today that things are changing. More needs to be done faster, though.



  1. Ernie, I don't know how to reach you via email, so let me try this route.
    You might be interested in a little May 7 post about Lawrence Taylor that I just came across on the sports blog of the website of The New Yorker. (Who knew there was a blog there devoted to sports?)
    And, by the way, I'm glad to see you keep beating the drum about concussions. There's still a mountain of machismo to climb over before people give this risk the respect it deserves.

  2. Wow, feels like an eternity since I have commented here. Really enjoyed the article. During 17 years of contact sports, I racked up 6 concussions, one of them followed being knocked unconscious during a rugby match. There are days where I wished I would have taken it easy back then. After being knocked out, I played the rest of the season. Luckily, all tests have been negative, but there are times when I get headaches that I believe are linked to the concussions. I cannot imagine the punishment these NFL players are receiving in terms of the brain. I too really hope something changes. I cringe every time I see a helmet to helmet (Boss comes to mind, that dude took a licking last year), just knowing how that guy will feel the next day. Concussions suck! Please keep linking these stories. Thanks!

  3. I hope Lawrence Tynes gets a concussion or two.

  4. Ernie,

    I actually have a similar story in high school, and I graduated a little more than 10 years ago now.

    Almost the same story. Kid on the team - Mike - gets whacked on a play. He's down and obviously unconscious. After a few seconds, he gets back up, runs to the sideline. Coach looks at him, asks if he's OK, says yes, and the coach puts him back in.

    For the rest of the game he acts completely out of character. Yelling at everyone - the refs, coaches, fans, players. Running around on the sideline, people thought he was drunk or on drugs. We found out on Monday he ended up with a concussion and people had to tell him what happened because he couldn't remember. And when we said what he was doing, he couldn't believe it.

    I can't imagine the beating football players must take.

  5. All the mawkish hand-wringing in the world won't change anything. Only helmet technology will.

    You can write and enforce all the rules in the world and impose all the fines you can dish out. But the players in this game will always hit with their helmets. They will "lay the hat" on someone.
    The sharp clashing sound of a helmet hit gets everyone on the field and in the stadium (and watching at home if the sound crew catches it) all fired up.

    We can go in only two directions: backwards, and replace todays hard shell helmets with the old fashioned leather ones again, which will end the head-first hitting; or forward and improve the anti-concussive technology in the modern helmet.

  6. Oh, and, by the way: one of the best preventatives to concussion in football is a mouth guard. Biting down on a mouth guard contracts the muscles in the head which in turn contracts the skull and reduces the space inside the skull so the brain doesn't slosh around quite so much. Maybe require NFL players to use one?