The future of football Essay
The future of football
“On this down and dirty dance-floor, huge men perform a punishing pirouette. The meek will never inherit this turf. In the pit, there is more violence per square foot than anywhere else in sport. ” – Narrator, NFL film production. I am not a fan of football game. Before this documentary, I actually have never spent more than 5 minutes on anything related to football. I always see football game is a violent and pointless sport.
However, the film League of Denial had completely changed my attitude towards football, the way how I see the game, and I have gained tremendous respect towards character such as Mike Webster, for what he had contributed to his career and achievement. The 113-minute lengthy documentary provides a detail and comprehensive story line about how chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE was discovered, studied, and the efforts were made to disclose the information to the public while being denied by the National Football League.
So what is chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also short termed as the CTE throughout the film? The definition from Boston University is: “a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head. ” Obviously, it is not hard for anyone to see what professional football players do fit perfectly in the description above.
To further prove the point how concussions had already damaged the players’ brain during a football game; concussions occurred during the game will develop into CTE in the future; several cases were use as examples during the film. The first one was the conversation in a dark hospital room between Frontline sport agent Leigh Steinberg and 49er quarterback Troy Aikman; during he was removed from the field and was being examined for a possible head injury caused by a serious hit in the head. Aikman: Where am I? Steinberg: You’re in the hospital. Aikman: Did I play today?
Steinberg: Yes, you did. Aikman: How well did I play? Steinberg: You played very well. Aikman: Did we win? Steinberg: Yes you did. Aikman: What does this mean? Steinberg: It means you’re going to the Super Bowl. Besides Aikman forgot everything he just did, which in term he was suffering memory lost at that moment, it still seemed a normal conversation, except the worst part was the exact same questions from Aikman were asked again after five minutes, then again after ten. Strong evidence what concussions could do to a football player, even he had his helmet on during the game.
Junior Seau, a 20-year career football player took his own life. A player had the mind set of sacrifice himself for football. From his own word in a NFL film: “You have to sacrifice your body, you have to sacrifice years down the line when we are 50, 40 years old, we probably won’t be able to walk, that’s the sacrifice you take for play this game”. – Seau, NFL Film. Before his suicide, incident such as domestic violence, driving with Influence and failure in business were appeared in turns on this once reputable person.
The family members had no idea about the cause of the moody behavior of Seau. Mike Webster, as known as the “Iron Mike”. A legendary football player in the NFL for 16 years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs, four-time Super Bowl winning team member, also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After he retired from NFL, Webster had shown symptoms such as moody behavior, deep depression and dementia, which obviously caused by all the efforts he spent towards his football career.
The description of different parts of his body had shocked me, as Dr. Omalu said in the film. “Mike looked older than his age, he looked beat up, he looked worn out, he looked trained. If I have not been told his age, I would say he looked like 70. ” – Dr. Bennet Omalu. League of Denial Film. “Mike Webster’s forehead was essentially fixed to his skull, the skin on his forehead has built up almost a shelf of scar tissue that from the continuous pounding of his head into other people. ”
– Steve Fainaru, League of Denial Film. Clearly Dr. Bennet Omalu holds huge credit for making the ethical decision on the further examination of Mike Webster’s brain. “Because if Webster’s brain was not examined that day, I don’t honestly think we will be where we at today”. – Steve Fainaru, Investigative Reporter. As a trained Nueropathologist, Dr. Omalu followed his instinct on that day and made the right call. He didn’t have to go further as it isn’t part of the procedure, but based on Mike Webster’s physical body condition, Dr. Omalu believe there should be more damage existed besides those on the surface.
Looking at Junior Seau and Mike Webster from an ethical stand point, as professional football players. Both of them had pushed their own body to the limit. As Webster’s wife described in the film, “I just love to watch him play, and Mike’s favorite games were the ones that were cold, and snowy, and frigged; and he could get up there with a short sleeves, and the dirtier, muddier it got made things better. ” – Pam Webster, League of Denial Film I’m sure all of the Steelers’ fans thought the same way in every game with Mike Webster on the field.
However, the National Football League or the NFL had decided to against that common sense of the concussion caused by playing football could result in CTE and even denied Mike Webster’s initial disability claim for compensation. Mike Webster had to hire a lawyer to negotiate the retirement plan when all his body conditions were caused by the 16 hard hitting years he spend on the football field, which made NFL millions of dollars. On the other hand, NFL’s policy has always been to criticize the research done by the others and eliminate any rising concussion issues from outside of the NFL. When Dr.
Bennet Omalu have found what Mike Webster was really suffered from and submitted his research to the medical journal: Neurologist magazine, not only he had publicized the knowledge that proves why Mike Webster had acted such behavior before he died, he had also walked into this mine field called “concussion is never a big deal”, laid by the NFL. Instead accept Dr. Bennet Omalu’s research result, which is the solid evidence of this unavoidable disease caused by playing football. The NFL had chosen their normal unethical route: destroy it before it starts to grow. The NFL pressures the journal to remove the article about Dr.
Omalu’s finding, fortunately the journal was able to stand the ethical ground and refuse the request. “But the NFL continues to go after Omalu attacking his credentials and his research this despite having several noted neurologists co-author his paper. Dr. Omalu eventually finds evidence of CTE in second ex-Steelers, Terry Long, and again publishes his findings. Just as it did before, the NFL attacks Omalu’s credibility. ” – Ken Fang The former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue even stated that in 1994: “Obviously it’s an athletic competition. ” “Concussions, I think it’s a pack journalism issue, frankly.
There is no increase in concussions, the number is relatively small”. Then the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee or MTBI was formed just to prove that Mr. Tagliabue is actually aware of the issue, but he created the committee to keep everything under the radar while it’s still manageable. It was formed to make people believe that NFL took the players and the concussion issues very seriously and professionally. However, notice that the key word here is “Mild”, the NFL has formed such committee to keep the damage as low as possible. Not the damage to the players’ brain, but financial damage the League might suffer from the long run.
Dr. Elliot Pellman, “a firm believer concussion is not a serious problem”. “He was not an expert on neurology, and had no back ground on brain research”. – Narrator, League of Denial was chosen to be the lead of the committee. That shows everyone who was actually setting the guideline of the concussion issues for the players. I was speechless, rather than being angry when the film reached the parts how NFL officials denied that concussions could have caused possible long term head injuries, which is direct related on players who suffered from CTE.
The executives of NFL knew exactly that concussion will result in brain damage and would eventually develop series mental related issues. However, these are the answers from the former head of the MTBI, Ira Casson, also known as the Dr. No. CORRESPONDENT: Is there any evidence, as far as your concern, that links multiple head injury among football players with depression? CASSON: No. CORRESPONDENT: With dementia?
CASSON: No. CORRESPONDENT: With early onset of Alzheimer’s? CASSON: No. CORRESPONDENT: Is there any link between trauma, head trauma, and the kind of dementia we’re seeing in these players?
CASSON: No, No, No. CORRESPONDENT: Is there any evidence as of today that links multiple head injuries with any long-term problem like that? CASSON: In NFL players? CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. CASSON: No. It seems to me Dr. Casson was sitting in an awkward position and answered each question with a funny tone of voice and an ignorant attitude. This less than 30 seconds TV interview on May 14, 2007 by HBO Real Sports has made Dr. Ira Casson a famous person overnight, with the exposing of the irresponsible and possible existing unethical attitude within the NFL leadership.
The NFL knew for years this will be the end of the football if American public discovers the truth of concussion will damage the players. Recently, the $765 million dollars settlement is the best evidence of what the NFL should have done a longtime ago. “The NFL has given you 765 million reasons why you shouldn’t play football. ” – Harry Carson. Former New York Giants linebacker. The film certainly made a huge impact in the society on how American public looks the football game and the NFL, and if the parents are still willing to let their kids to continue the future of the football game.
The future of the NFL is dark, even current technology is available for early detection and able to minimize the risk for the future players, the NFL will facing more and more claims from the existing players in the near future. There is no clear direction on how to modify the current game rules to make it a “safer environment” for the players, and if there is, the NFL might still lose a decent size of the crowd who are addicted to the violent part of the game.
The worst thing would be when the general public all agree on football is a dangerous sport; there won’t be any future players for the next Super bowl.
Work Cited Dan Diamond. “What The NFL Still Gets Wrong About Concussions”. 5/2013 Contributor. Forbes. com http://www. forbes. com/sites/dandiamond/2013/05/22/what-the-nfl-still-gets-wrong-about-concussions/ Ken Fang. “The 9 Most Powerful Moments from “League of Denial””. 09/2013. http://www. awfulannouncing. com/2013/october/the-most-powerful-moments-from-league-of-denial. html Sean Gregory. “New Book, and PBS Documentary, Details.
Subject: American football,
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 3 June 2017
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