September 24, 2008

12 Athletes Leaving Brains to Concussion Study: "I'm not being vindictive. I'm not trying to reach up from the grave and get the N.F.L. But any doctor who doesn't connect concussions with long-term effects should be ashamed of themselves."

posted by BoKnows to culture at 02:39 PM - 8 comments

I hate it when I preview and then forget to post a comment!?!? Let's try this again ...

It's about time! I'm just shocked that it takes an athlete (or dozen) to donate their brains. I'm betting that this is just the tip of the iceberg though, and there will be more than a few dozen former NFLers who will likely line up for this study and join the cause. With any luck, this will vindicate those who have already appealed to have this correlation (brain trauma and later-life dementia) acknowledged.

Good on these athletes who are keeping this on the burner as an important health issue.

posted by Spitztengle at 07:51 PM on September 24, 2008

I don't know as much about this topic as I'm sure many on this board do, but I'm curious as to the timing. Is there any correlation in the timing of this event to the recent demise of Gene Upshaw? (I can't get to the article, so I apologize if the answer is given within.)

posted by bobfoot at 11:48 PM on September 24, 2008

But any doctor who doesn't connect concussions with long-term effects should be ashamed of themselves. Any doctor who connects any effect to any cause without proper research is a quack. (Before anyone gets started: I think that repeated concussions have long-term effects. I still require some research before I would state that as a fact.)

"I shouldn't have to prove to anybody that there's something wrong with me." Does he mean that should be an assumption?

posted by joaquim at 11:40 AM on September 25, 2008

If they're a quack, does that make them a Ducktor?

posted by Drood at 05:26 PM on September 25, 2008

Is there any correlation in the timing of this event to the recent demise of Gene Upshaw?

I would have to say no. I think that the need for this type of research was highlighted about a year ago by an Men's Journal and the subsequent rallies by groups like the Gridiron Greats. However, the emphasis seemed to shift more to the lack of raised funds Ditka's group actually put in the hands of the disabled players than on the issue of the disabilities and their causes.

Post mortem, even people critical of Upshaw seemed to give him a glowing remembrance for the strides he took in improving things for the NFLPA (e.g., Dave Zirin). I can't say for sure, but it may not have been Upshaw (alone, or at all) who was blocking/countering the medical evidence that head traumas from football were the cause of some of the veterans' problems. What I think can be said pretty much for certain is that they (Upshaw/NFLPA) were concerned about the can of worms it would open (i.e., money it would cost the disability/pension funds) to make a direct causal link between the head traumas and dementia/depression/etc. And the one thing that they had going for them was the lack of sufficient, irrefutable evidence to make such claims as "facts". Hopefully, this research should help to close off any "quack" claims and provide real help to those who need it.

posted by Spitztengle at 06:37 PM on September 25, 2008

What I think can be said pretty much for certain is that they (Upshaw/NFLPA) were concerned about the can of worms it would open...

Thanks you for saying that Spitz. That reminds me of an episode of MythBusters, I think, where they were able to theorize a similar situation. It involved the cost that airlines would incur IF passengers were to survive a crash as a para/quadrapalegic vs. a onetime payout for a wrongful/accidental death suit. It's sickening how influential money can be and what that money will help you to believe.

I find it very promising that athletes from other sports are involved in this study as well. This isn't just an NFL issue.

posted by BoKnows at 09:45 PM on September 25, 2008


I would say noGene Upshaw's death had nothing to do with this as he died from a very virulent form of cancer. However, there are many former football players who have suffered serious brain related problems after playing. Among them would be Mike Webster (Former Wisconsin Badger and Steeler) who died at the age of 50 and many Doctor's said his weekly games were like going thru multiple car wrecks, Al Toon (Former Wisconsin Badger and Jet) who still suffers from "Post Concussion Syndrome" and has days where he cannot even get out of bed, Earl Campbell (The former Oiler Great) who can now barely walk or function normally. As the intuitive can tell, I am from Wisconsin so, leaving Football behind, I can site Cory Koskie of the Brewers who suffered a concussion two years ago; and has not been able to play since. In short, this type of study needs to be done and I applaud those who have stepped forward to advance the knowledge of the effects of the stress on the brain, regardless of the sport they may have played.

posted by R_A_Mason at 11:19 PM on September 25, 2008

I love football, but every now and then when watching I pretend I'm from another non-football country (that is, pretty much the rest of the world) and wonder what I would think of a sport that requires players to essentially put on armor and pound the hell out of each other. I guess you could argue hockey is the same, but something about the enormity of the players and the size of the pads makes it stand out.

Of course, boxing is even worse, at least wrt to head injuries. So even though I'm a fan of Ali and loved "When We Were Kings," I would have no problem with a ban on the sport.

It would kill me to give up football...

Someone mentioned Earl Campbell - as a Broncos fan I worry that Brandon Marshall will end up that way. He's a receiver, so he doesn't get as many touches, but after the catch he is a beast that takes 4 guys to bring down. He never, ever gives up, even when it's probably better for his long term health. Reminds me of Campbell.

posted by drumdance at 09:27 AM on September 26, 2008

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