May 3, 2012

"Another life cut short by an unforgiving game."

"The accumulation of tau protein kills certain parts of the brain related to impulse control and results in dementia, early onset Alzheimer’s, memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression. Often it leads to suicide."

ADDED: There really are people trying to end football. The War on Football.

47 comments:

TWM said...

Yes, because only football players kill themselves. It's so obvious to me now . . .

Moose said...

So, don't play football.

Good lord - talk about a non-issue.

Jay said...

This rush to assume "concussions did it" is absurd.

According to his friends he was really struggling with life after football.

But let's just blame concussions (has this author looked at how many Seau had anyway?)

Silly.

Tank said...

Now we have Seau, a gentle bear of a man known in San Diego not only for his exemplary playing career but also for his charitable foundation begun 20 years ago and for a popular restaurant that bore his name. He had, it would seem, everything to live for, but ended up alone and despairing in his final minutes after having texted his ex-wife, Gina DeBoer, and their three children individually “I love you’’ the previous day.


A gentle bear of a man?

He played middle linebacker.

He was a seek and destroy missile his whole life.

X said...

It may have been the concussions, and they are a result of playing the game the wrong way, trying for the spectacular hit, trying to hurt your opponent, which too many players do. Bob Lilly played the game the right way. He tackled you, wrapped you up, as opposed to trying to blow you up. He wasn't trying to injure anyone.

jrberg3 said...

So 3 recents suicides is indicative of a major epidemic related to the NFL's cover-up of head injuries??

As if depression/alcoholism/drug abuse or other mental disorders don't affect elite athletes. Just ask the families of Hideki Irabu and Mike Flanagan.

drozz said...

get rid of helmets.

works for rugby players.

Patrick said...

It is always a problem using anecdotes alone, especially well publicized anecdotes to highlight a problem. The column discusses these suicides, but provides no context for how football affects the suicide rate. Do football players commit suicide at a materially higher rate than men in the general population? If not, then the discussion of football is irrelevant, and the column makes little sense.

I do not find it difficult to believe that football is harmful to the players. I have this feeling that a lot of football players die pretty young, and that many of the do very poorly after their career is over.

But if I was going to offer any serious policy prescription, I sure as hell would have a grip on the important facts.

@dwbudd said...

I don't know Junior Seau from Uncle Junior from "The Sopranos," but this guy has some of his science a bit muddled. The current research in Alzheimer's disease does not say that "the accumulation of tau proteins kills certain parts of the brain;" the role of tau proteins is very much in dispute now amongst neuroscientists, but the leading voices right now see the role of tau as part of a complex in the cascade of brain deterioriation.

Mitchell said...

Football is not an unforgiving game. Just ask Michael Vick.

X said...

get rid of hitting and bring back tackling.

Scott M said...

There really are people trying to end football. The War on Football.

If the forces that be are such that they are able to end something as fundamentally popular as football, our country will have become a place I would no longer want to raise my family in.

ndspinelli said...

Fame, steroids, the loss of stature, concussions, alcohol, etc. I think it's all part of the mix. 8 players from the Chargers mid 90's Super Bowl team dead prior to age 45. That is one horrible statistic.

Seau has had some recent police contacts showing violent erratic[@ best] behavior. So, those who are "shocked" are in denial. Sadly, that's often the case.

X said...

There really are people trying to end football. The War on Football.

academics have been trying since the 1800's.

edutcher said...

Uh, how many former NFL players over the last, say, 40 years have died by their own hand?

PaulV said...

Jay, Junior Seau shot homse;f in chest so his brain could be examined. Your question will be answer. Ray Easterling of the Atlanta Falcons recently committed suicide after suffering from dementia for 20 years. I knew him from working out at the Y. He was a good man and had many friends. I do not know where he shot himself.

MadisonMan said...

His life would have been so much better without football?

MayBee said...

Is it all the tackling without helmets that kills off rock stars, too?

jrberg3 said...

"Junior Seau shot homse;f in chest so his brain could be examined. "

What? PaulV, we don't know that. At least, not yet.

Dave Duerson of the Bears shot himself in the chest and donated his brain to study the effect concussions had on it, but we don't know if Seau did that.

AJ Lynch said...

Maybee- good one!

PatCA said...

This is tragic, of course, but I don't trust a newspaper with any kind of accurate analysis of why he did it.

In an atmosphere where "Merry Christmas" has been replaced with "Have a Safe Holiday," no one is safe from the nannies.

Richard Dolan said...

If you read the article, you will eventually get to the part about the trial lawyers -- a batch of lawsuits against major league football trying to cash in on the idea that football doesn't adequately warn players about the dangers of contact sports. I think that's the same idea behind cases complaining that vendors of hot coffee don't do enough to warn coffee drinkers that hot coffee is, you know, hot.

Put aside the legal merits of the 'war on football' (I doubt that it has any merit), and just focus on the social criticism at its root: football is a business that chews players up, and all really for the financial benefit of those who control it (the owners). That narrative reduces the players to victims in a heartless, cruel, exploitative system screaming to be EXPOSED and MADE TO PAY for its wickedness. The same critique applies to the trial lawyers: the American tort system chews up everything it touches, and all for the financial benefit of those who control it (the trial lawyers most obviously, but the armies of Govt folks who provide the forum and populate its ranks). You can fill in the rest.

DADvocate said...

Seau was one of my favorite players, but I know one seasoin he went beyond reasonable limits by playing with an essentially useless arm. Borges conflates the causes Seau's death with Duerson's.

Why is o one talking about the effects of soccer on the brain? It seems the long term affect on large numbers of people would be greater from soccer than football. Beginning at very young ages, kids play it with no head protection. In football, young kids can't hit hard enough to overcome the protection of a helmet.

This is a War on Football, and real men, as much as anything. Football has its risks, which ned to be minimized, but some people just get dementia early, i.e. Pat Summit at Tennessee.

themightypuck said...

People keep talking about concussions but the bigger problem is repetitive knocks on the head that happen almost every play for some positions. I say follow the science so people who play can make informed decisions. Lots of sports are not good for your health.

Curious George said...

"themightypuck said...
People keep talking about concussions but the bigger problem is repetitive knocks on the head that happen almost every play for some positions. I say follow the science so people who play can make informed decisions. Lots of sports are not good for your health."

My son and I were discussing this, and he told me that they are now in the belief that it is concussions that lead to CTE, but continuous sub-concussion hits.

mtrobertsattorney said...

I while ago, I don't remember where, I read a story about some university or research facility testing modern, high-tec football helmets for their ablility to absorb force. The idea was to determine the safest design. As a base line, they used old-fashioned leather helments. To the surprise of the researchers, the old leather helmets proved superior.

At the time, the researchers had no explanation.

Scott M said...

At the time, the researchers had no explanation.

Well, to be fair, the researchers were using modern helmets during the lunch "sudden death" games.

David said...

The war on football is not new. Football was in danger of being banned at the dawn of the 20th century. Teddy Roosevelt got involved and was the catalyst for some rule changes. The game was in some ways much more violent than now, and there were on the field deaths. Google ""Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football" and you will get the story.

David said...

There's a book about TR and football: "The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football."

Steve Koch said...

Althouse is pretty sly and canny about this blogging thing. She has figured out a new topic to work up the Althouse commentors. Until the dems achieve perpetual electoral supremacy, there is no chance that football will be outlawed. If the GOP had the wit and competence to restore federalism, it would be extremely difficult for the dems to do such dastardly things at the state level in non dem states.

The real issue is to understand clearly the negative health effects of playing football and figure out how to modify the game to eliminate the worst problems. The process is ongoing but needs to be more efficient.

Eliminating blocking and tackling below the waist would cut way down on knee injuries. Only problem is that it makes it even tougher for smaller players to block and tackle but that does not seem like a huge issue.

Making it illegal to lead with the helmet on offense too would help.

I'd like to make everybody eligible. Don't know if it would cut down on injuries but it would eliminate the horrible bulking up of the offensive line that has to be causing heart damage down the road. The defensive linemen would also have to be leaner and quicker to cover their man.

Eliminating cleats would cut down on knee injuries. Players would slip more but so what?

Very quick whistles would reduce injuries.

Use college rule (not nfl rule) for determining when a runner is down. If a player is down and you spear him, your season is over.

Commit a personal foul and your game is over.

Put a light in the player's helmets that goes on when the play is whistled dead so players know when the play is over even if they can't hear the whistle.

David said...

The NFL players know full well what they are getting into. High school and college, not so much. I know a lot of former high school players who have had significant problems.

Google "Paul Martha." Went to my fancy private high school in Pittsburgh as a scholarship student. Bright guy and best athlete I ever saw up close. First team all American at Pitt and married the daughter of the CEO of United States Steel. Played for the Steelers and had a so-so career. Gutsy guy who moved to defense and got his bell rung big time. Successful lawyer and sports exec but had terrible head and brain issues and eventually lost all his top level cognitive skills.

It's a real problem, not a made up problem.

I'm pretty sure Paul did not know what he was getting into, though he might well have done it the same way if he did.

DADvocate said...

I while ago, I don't remember where,...

You must play or had played football.

Steve Koch said...

From StrengthPlanet, http://strengthplanet.com/other/15-surprising-facts-about-world-class-athletes.htm

"According to the NFL Players Association, the average life expectancy of an NFL player is 58 years of age."

mtrobertsattorney said...

"You must play or have played football"

I did, but they wouldn't let me wear my leather helmet.

Scott M said...

"You must play or have played football"

I did, but they wouldn't let me wear my leather helmet.


Maybe the NFL will do the opposite of the NHL and switch to no helmets at all. They would have grandfather in current players, of course, with some holdout named MacTavish being the last pro football player to wear a helmet.

n.n said...

This is further evidence that humans should live in a bubble and under superior supervision. It is clear that we are incapable of enjoying liberty responsibly or accepting responsibility for our liberty.

ndspinelli said...

Steve Koch, That's about the life expentancy of Russiam males who are almost all alcoholics!

Boxing has undergone attacks in the past, many legit some not so legit. Part of the boxing industries defense has been, look @ football not just us. Well... The orthopedic medical industry certainly hasn't minded the football business over the decades. A dirty little secret.

Lyle said...

... or he was mentally ill from something else. Who knows?

Football won't be banned regardless. You accept the consequences when yo decide to play the game.

Smilin' Jack said...

If the forces that be are such that they are able to end something as fundamentally popular as football, our country will have become a place I would no longer want to raise my family in.

Pansy. I got my vasectomy when they banned bear-baiting.

shirley elizabeth said...

Hmm...we're pretty sure that playing football saved my brother's life. Had a long fall that put him into a coma and took him a few years of therapy to recover (still in process). Doctors say his muscles protected his body from being crushed at the end of the fall. Not one broken bone (aside from his head...).

Amartel said...

Isn't is a little bit early to be reporting this claim as fact Mr Journalist Man? And what's the science on this, not just the War on Football science or the plaintiffs' attorney's science but the real science of a nexus between football playing and dementia? I've defended plenty of TBI cases and I know how theatrical the science can get in court. The real science usually turns out to be far more complex. I also wonder what the real stats are and would not accept Players Assn stats at face value. Players are always complaining about the injuries in this game but they do have a choice to leave. Also, could there possibly be Other Factors contributing/causing onset of depression, even suicidal depression, in men who hit the lottery while they were still in their teens and got put out to pasture at the age of 30 with little or no education or practical real world wisdom?

Cedarford said...

Glad my son did not play American football, but real global football instead (soccer).
We (parents) - had our experiences around the game. I played in juniors and HS, wife dated a few players in HS and college.
Didn't want the slowing down mentally from all the hits to the head, severe injury to be our son's future(ACLs, HS player I knew broke femur in 3 places later on in college).

Soccer and tennis were fine with us.

There is a reason US football never caught on globally, even at the peak of American power, wealth and influence. And why boxing has declined.
Both sports are violent, lots of injuries, and have reps for using bodies up then discarding them. Football is also a very expensive "system" to put in place.

Thorley Winston said...

There really are people trying to end football. The War on Football.

I have no interest in trying to “end football” – I just wish its fans would quit trying to pick my pocket to pay for a Vikings stadium.

William said...

Statistically, it's probably a very small minority of pro footballers who don't end up with some kind of disability. I would trade a lifetime of gimpy knees for a few years of fame and money. However, I wouldn't make that same trade for early dementia. There's many who would, but until very recently I don't think that early dementia was part of anyone's decision tree......It's a real problem and I'm sympathetic, but it's probably the lawyers who will come out ahead.

Rusty said...

What are the stats for professional boxing? You know? Where the whole object is to hit the other guy in the head as hard as you can.

Methadras said...

Anyone here think Joe Theissman is pissed at football for what it did to him? Just the other day I saw him on TV telling me about the joys of having smaller prostate. Also, I had to curse my football hero Joe Montana for becoming a whore for those god awful Sketcher walker shoes that look like giant curved clogs. Then I've had to further endure seeing try Aickman hawking rent-a-center goods along with John Madden trying to get me to kill my athletes foot. This is the real crime of football.

Methadras said...

So new movement for the nannies of the world to find a way to immobilize us to mitigate the risk of life. Fuck you.