Zombieland

Football killed Junior Seau. Now what?
Share |

Of all the sad, delusional and willfully vacuous things a professional athlete has ever said to me, this is the quote that will forever be stuck in my brain:

“I’m hoping that if I eat my blueberries every day and do my memory exercises, I’ll be okay.”

I had been interviewing NFL Hall of Famer, Immaculate Receptor and eventual Penn State Truther Franco Harris for Pittsburgh Magazine. Somehow, the conversation wandered to the brain trauma epidemic that has turned so many of Harris’ peers into shambling ghosts and corpses. Harris sincerely believed that his brain could be saved from the slow creep of brown tau proteins and the accompanying derangement of his psyche by a daily regimen of antioxidants and Boggle.

He admitted that he was scared by the suicides of Dave Duerson, Andre Waters and others. “We’re all scared,” he said. Instead of religion, Harris had turned to superfoods for protection.

Last week, the inevitable was finally confirmed. NFL legend Junior Seau was indeed suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) when, seemingly apropo of nothing, he scribbled the lyrics to a sad-sack country song on a yellow legal pad, removed the SIM card from his cell phone, sat on the edge of a bed in the guestroom of his mansion and shot himself in the chest with a revolver.

Unlike other CTE victims, Seau did not appear to be careening into oblivion before his death. He wasn’t sleeping in a bus garage like Mike Webster. He wasn’t turned into an empty husk from senility like John Mackey. He wasn’t binging on prescription pills like Derek Boogaard. Immediately after his retirement in 2009, Seau was being groomed by ESPN to be the next in a long line of cheesing jock-0 chuckleheads — those absurdly windsored analysts wearing David Byrne dadcoats who cut studio wrestling promos about “What It Means to Be a Man in This League” and other self-help vagaries. Seau was so revered that when he drove his SUV off a cliff in 2010, everyone accepted his explanation that he’d accidentally dozed off at the wheel.

For decades, the NFL has survived on the dogma that the Reaper was never coming for pious company men like Seau. Even after 26-year-old Chris Henry’s brain was found to be as rusted with degenerative brain disease as an 80-year-old Alzheimer’s victim, the league office’s never-ending army of Mr. Smiths had the audacity to wag their power-thumb and hem-and-haw about “lifestyle factors” and “emerging science.”

Webster was a vicious drunk and a lout for the sake of it, you see, not because he was dealing with the ever-tightening vice grip of neurological erosion enabled by coaches and trainers telling him, for decades, to rub some gat-damn dirt on it. And Henry? Who can possibly say how his cornrows affected cranial impact? More study was required and all that.

Nevermind that researchers from Boston University and other labs were running around with their hair on fire, telling anyone who would listen that they’d begun finding CTE in athletes as young as 16, who were not exposed to lifestyle factors like alcohol and steroid abuse, which the NFL used to smear Webster and others. The NFL kept talking about the “unknowns.” All the while, Seau withered away quietly.

As late as 2008, after the sample size of CTE-ravaged brains had grown to more than 50, the NFL dispatched a cavalcade of skeptical neurologists, many of whom sat on NFL safety boards, to filibuster the narrative to death.

Finally, the NFL sent noted CTE skeptic Dr. Peter Davies, a neurologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and an international expert on Alzheimer’s disease, to meet the team at the Brain Injury Research Institute and examine their research. The league expected Davies to criticize the emerging science with the typical milquetoast denialism. Instead, he became a full convert.

“It was beyond anything I had ever seen, and I have seen some wild things,” Davies told me of his experience viewing the brains. “Some of these individuals have a disease that goes way beyond anything that's reasonable. As an experienced person looking at these brains, the only thing you can say is, 'Wow. What is this?'”

Davies’ very public conversion combined with an admittedly hypocritical public outcry finally moved the NFL to DO SOMETHING© about PLAYER SAFETY© which they take VERY SERIOUSLY™. Seriously enough to commision a national advertising campaign winking at the quaint notion that players used to wear leather helmets (which happen to be just as effective at protecting the brain from the rotational forces of a collision as their $200 contemporary counterparts) and giving $30 million to the National Institutes of Health to study brain trauma, which was not given benevolently by the owners but was fought for by the NFLPA during the 2011 lockout.

And yet despite all this seriousness, and despite a recent study by Boston University, the most comprehensive ever, revealing that CTE was present in the brains of 34 of 35 former NFL players, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell channeled his Wayne LaPierre spirit animal and said this less than 48 hours after it was confirmed that Seau’s brain went dark, too: “[We] need to have a lot more research because there’s still unfortunately a lot of unknowns.”

At this point in the conversation, let’s address the inevitable:

“This is a man’s game,” says a grown-ass fella who gets genuinely upset when his friends leave “floaters” of Miller Lite at the Bar-N-Grille. “Next they’ll put a DRESS on der quarterback!”

“But they’re millionairzzz,” says some hyper-FHUPA’ed mommybot on Facebook.

And maybe these ambassadors from the underbelly have a point. Maybe we could save ourselves a lot of grief and money if the NFL’s moral conundrum was simply summed up as: It’s really bad to hit your head all the time!

Because really, what’s the league to do? Making killshots the issue and vilifying easy targets like James Harrison and Ed Reed isn’t a sustainable defense. And, anyway, it doesn’t address the problem, which is more endemic and less dramatic: in Boston University’s new study, linemen made up 40 percent of the confirmed CTE cases. The science is increasingly pointing to the conclusion that it’s not the human car wrecks that are the problem, but the fender benders inherent to the game.

Football is the problem. And we fucking love football. More than 35 million of us tuned in for the Broncos-Ravens playoff thriller. So maybe Seau’s death is really the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back on the Concussion Era? Maybe we should all just retreat from this moral turpitude and turn our gaze once more to the warm, yellow glow of the nacho dip rabbithole? Maybe there’s a certain kind of honor in neurological seppuku?

Ah, but then.

Then there’s the obfuscation. There’s the too-familiar politicized gall of an outsized corporation disguising itself as an American institution.

NFL players receive a paltry four years of post-career health care support from their $9-billion-a-year-snarfing employer and are consigned to the healthcare marketplace, loudly red-flagged by what are some very well-known pre-existing conditions. The NFL giddily and quite easily ransoms billions in corporate welfare from taxpayers, so perhaps it’s no surprise that the answer to this is a hearty “free market, free will, something-something.”

The NFL wants to make this living holocaust political. Because if it’s political, if there are commercials and press releases and Very Serious Debate and unanimous agreements to convene another hearing sometime soon (at which Hungarian glacial water would be appreciated), then the fourth wall still stands. Fans will order a bucket of wingdings and re-submerge in the hot sock-stink of the Sunday deprivation tank and tune out the real-time mushing of human brains. It will always be there, if not ever be quite present.

So long as the Reaper only comes for the bad guys, the endless supply of auto-spawning nimrods, the reckless booze hounds and scripper job creators who don’t remember to eat their handful of blueberries before they go to bed, the NFL is safe. But Seau took his vitamins and said his prayers. The former Walter Payton Man of the Year was the league’s poster boy for responsible self-immolation. And still, he sat in a spare room, surrounded by no one, and put a gun to his heart.

So, now what? The NFL’s process for diagnosing concussions on the sidelines is an outdated mess, the league does not require players to wear the best available helmets. And sometimes, coaches and players still publicly disagree over whether or not head trauma even occurred. Instead of scientific legerdemain and weepy TV commercials, the NFL can honor Seau’s ghost by starting there.


Share |

Comments

I have been gaining a lot of usable and exemplifying stuff in your website. brian holm lawyer san diego

I would simply say to you all “awesome information” drug lawyer Savannah GA

Second, you're effort to necessity few Statement Building Services. To elevate your rankings, you necessity links to and from your place. Inexpensive seo services | Web marketing

Great tips and very easy to understand. This will definitely be very useful for me when I get a chance to start my blog. play subway surfers on pc and mac with bluestacks android

دانلود قسمت چهارم فصل دوم شهرزاد 2, دانلود رایگان شهرزاد, دانلود سریال جدید شهرزاد ایرانی دانلود سریال شهرزاد با لینک مستقیم, دانلود فیلم های جدید و برتر, دانلود رایگان فیلم و سریال با لینک مستقیم
دانلود قسمت چهارم شهرزاد دوم

because he was dealing with the ever-tightening vice grip of neurological erosion enabled by coaches and trainers telling him, for decades, to rub some gat-damn dirt on it. And Henry? Who can possibly say how his cornrows affected cranial impact? More study was required and all that.get new york notary license

I'm really happy to find this site and did enjoy reading useful articles posted here. The ideas of the author was awesome, thanks for the share. handbags in italy

Mr. Smiths had the audacity to wag their power-thumb and hem-and-haw about “lifestyle factors” and “emerging scienceschool chess sets

The statistics to unlocking the earnings in your manner is obvious. Large Quantity DA domains | Blogs creation

the Brain Injury Research Institute and examine their research. The league expected Davies to criticize the emerging science with the typical milquetoast denialism. Instead, he became a full convert.fast charging

when he drove his SUV off a cliff in 2010, everyone accepted his explanation that he’d accidentally dozed off at the wheel.mql programming

degenerative brain disease as an 80-year-old Alzheimer’s victim, the league office’s never-ending army of Mr. Smiths had the audacity to wag their power-thumb and hem-and-haw about “lifestyle factors” and “emerging science.”minecraft download free |
psn discount code

Fabulous .. Astounding .. I'll bookmark your online journal and take the sustains likewise… I'm cheerful to discover such a large number of helpful information here in the post, we need work out more procedures in such manner, much obliged for sharing. backlinks2017

Determining the main objectives of your brochure helps to provide a clear and complete message to your readers. economic brochure printing

Your affect is totally appreciative and newsy. elderly care in maywood

I will visit your web journal routinely for Some most recent post. amazing selling machine

Only a grinning visitant here to share the adoration (:, btw exceptional style. eco-travel

Fabulous .. Astounding .. I'll bookmark your online journal and take the sustains likewise… I'm cheerful to discover such a large number of helpful information here in the post, we need work out more procedures in such manner, much obliged for sharing. backlinks2017

There is such a great amount in this article I would never have considered all alone. Your substance gives perusers things to consider in an intriguing way. Much obliged to you for your reasonable data. amazon vpc web hosting

I went over this site and I trust you have a ton of brilliant data, spared to my bookmarks escorts in beirut

I discovered your this post while looking for data about web journal related exploration ... It's a decent post .. continue posting and upgrading dat tattoo supply

A debt of gratitude is in order for the decent blog. It was extremely valuable for me. I'm glad I discovered this web journal. Much thanks to you for imparting to us,I too dependably discover some new information from your post. Tree Trimming Long Island

The way to achievement is directing people to your site. In the master plan, fixating on your tweeting propensities is truly not going to have any kind of effect. twitter followers | clash of clans cheats

I went over this site and I trust you have a ton of awesome data, spared to my bookmarks Custom VR Goggles

Very interesting to read this article.I would like to thank you for the efforts you had made for writing this awesome article.jaguar xjs car covers

Keep the balls rolling!! Nice posts you have given for us.
merchant cash advance companies

This is a greatly elegantly composed article. I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to peruse a greater amount of your valuable data. Loftplan

Excellent read, Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work. solar tips

Splendid Blog! I might need to thank for the attempts you have made in making this post. I am believing a comparable best work from you later on as well. hair implantation consultation in Bristol

Whether you are targeting to sell products, generate leads, or improve customer relations, we will develop a solution suited to your needs and budget.With our superior web developers and satisfaction guarantee services, you can relax, knowing, you will be 100% satisfied with our services. top marketing agencies

I'm inspired, I should state. Rarely do I run over a blog that is both instructive and engaging, and oh my goodness, you ve hit the nail on the head. Your blog is critical.. Lifestyle Engineer

Pleasant data, important and phenomenal plan, as impart well done to smart thoughts and ideas, heaps of extraordinary data and motivation, both of which I require, because of offer such an accommodating data here. drug rehab center in florida

with fewer back links and the cause is the ones fewer back links they have are dofollow, excessive page rank oneway links. seo for small business

Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is a vintage great read for me. I've bookmarked it and I am looking towards reading new articles. Continue the nice work. Alarmas negocio

It's nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post! http://sattamatkaoc.mobi/

I’m happy I located this blog! From time to time, students want to cognitive the keys of productive literary essays composing. Your first-class knowledge about this good post can become a proper basis for such peoplePA/DA links here

I did so your we appeared to be really happy by using Them aren't executed to the place nonetheless it’s strikingbuy essay uk

Amazing! This could be a standout amongst the most helpful web journals we have ever run over on thesubject. Really superb data! I'm additionally a specialist in this theme so I can comprehend your exertion. FOREX SIGNALS

I like how you think and the way you speak to your perspectives in this article. I concur with your state of mind. Awakening Your Feminine Intuition

You are very brave focuses in this article. I would have never thought to be any of these in the event that I didn't run over this. Much appreciated!. mon-univers-bio

we believe it’s been put off even more. So we don’t want to promise you anything. Roofing Colorado Springs

This is an extraordinary article much obliged for sharing this enlightening data. I will visit your website consistently for some most recent post. I will visit your web journal consistently for Some most recent post. toilet shield

I wasn't expecting that you ought to pass on such an awesome sum in one day Tow Colorado Springs

I am trusting the same best work from you later on too. Much appreciated. Residential Paving Colorado Springs

howdy, your sites are better than average. I value your work. my link

Just leaving it on in these areas can completely drain your cell phone's battery life within a few hours.iPhone repair nottingham

Just leaving it on in these areas can completely drain your cell phone's battery life within a few hours.iPhone repair nottingham

I’m eager to find the valuable information and for me this is the right place to get the good stuff.
women

You have made an awesome showing on this article. It's exceptionally lucid and exceedingly astute. You have even figured out how to make it reasonable and simple to peruse. You have some genuine written work ability. Much thanks to you. more hints

New site is solid. A debt of gratitude is in order for the considerable exertion. next