View Full Version : Gorman: Indifference toward brain trauma bothersome

10-21-2010, 11:03 PM
Gorman: Indifference toward brain trauma bothersome
By Kevin Gorman
Friday, October 22, 2010

Somehow, we got sidetracked this week from one of the most serious issues in sports when certain Steelers portrayed themselves as victims instead of perpetrators of headhunting in the NFL.

Instead of focusing on the concussions suffered by Joshua Cribbs and Mohamed Massquoi, our attention has been diverted by the plight of poor James Harrison since the $51 million linebacker was fined $75,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hits on the Cleveland Browns receivers.

But this isn't about legal plays and fineable offenses.

The story that has been superseded is the one involving head injuries suffered through helmet-to-helmet hits. What bothers me is the level of indifference toward brain trauma by NFL players, especially when you hear comments like those of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who said he "would rather have a concussion than a blown-out knee."

That's not meant to single out Roethlisberger who clarified that he meant a minor concussion, and would rather have neither injury but instead a widespread mentality in the NFL. Just because players sign up for a sport involving violent collisions doesn't allow for recklessness.

Or, more to the point, utter ignorance.

What concerns Dr. Mark Lovell, founding director of the UPMC Sports Medicine concussion program and developer of the IMPACT test that has become the industry standard for treating concussions, is the misconception involving the dramatic difference between brain trauma and other injuries.

"We try to dispel this myth that the brain is like a muscle; it's not," Lovell said. "If you're an athlete, you grow up with some mentality of playing hurt. The problem is when people apply that same logic to the brain, because the brain is like an organ. You've got to make a brain injury different than any orthopedic injury. Players have to understand the brain is not like a knee.

"It bothers me when I hear people say they'd rather have a head injury than a knee injury. The brain is the organ that controls the rest of the body. If your brain isn't working well, you've got major problems."

Lovell served on the NFL's Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee recently renamed the Head, Neck and Spine Committee from 1993 until six months ago, when he became a consultant to the NFL Players Association. Lovell returned Wednesday from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where he was a speaker at the "Ice Hockey Summit: Action on Concussion," which covered the science of concussions, their impact on children and the reaction of pro sports leagues to devastating injuries.

"The two sports are different ... but a concussion is a concussion," Lovell said. "The brain doesn't know what sport it is playing."

Neither do some NFL players, who give the bloodthirsty crowds the gladiator-like games they want. Whether the helmet-to-helmet hits by Harrison, New England safety Brandon Meriweather on Baltimore tight end Todd Heap and Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson on Philadelphia receiver DeSean Jackson Sunday were within the rules is inconsequential. If the NFL is serious about protecting its product, it has to protect its players.

ESPN analyst Merril Hoge, a member of the NFL's Head, Neck and Spine Committee, told the DVE Morning Show Thursday that playing fundamental football and using proper form tackling could reduce concussions. Hoge, a former Steelers running back whose career was ended by post-concussion syndrome, was adamant that Harrison needs to focus on hitting through the hips and numbers instead of helmets when trying to tackle.

"Both of those hits I watched it on tape for hours he had to take his head and forearms to thrust it up through the head and shoulders of that wide receiver," Hoge said. "He had the same amount of time to hit that target area, bring his shoulder pads and hit him and hit him with the same viciousness that he hit him with there, only fundamentally sound.

"That's it. It's not, 'Make the field bigger.' It's not, 'Put leather helmets on their heads.' It's not, 'Bad quarterback play' which is embarrassing. It's not these excuses. It's not a witch hunt, but 'Play football fundamentally sound.'"

What it will take is for NFL players to use their brains.

Or, at least, what's left of them.

10-22-2010, 12:00 PM
Enought already about the helmet to helmet hits....over the top fines, and concussion talk.....WE GET IT....IT IS SERIOUS.

BUT- remember while the league wants to protect its players (ie:investments) remember these people have chosen this line of work....THEY KNOW THE RISKS, they see people get permanently hurt playing this dangerous game. Thats part of the reason I feel they get paid so much money for playing a game. NO, they wouldn't do it for $10/hour....but for the financial compensation they receive, they are willing to take the risks to their bodies because if they're good enough, their families will be financially secure for a long time to come.

You don't see the boxer association eliminate hitting do you? More people die in that sport as far as I've seen than football...How about MMA? Baseball, Hockey, horse racing, tennis, NASCAR all have risks associated with them- sometimes permanent injury can happen....But these individuals accept that risk when they sign on to play....Otherwise they would retire like Robert Smith of the Vikes a few years back, or Barry Sanders when they simply decided they either didn't enjoy the game, or the money wasn't worth risking their long term health.

So Goodell, writers stating what a horrible barbaric game that these animals play need to realize that these players have made a concious decision to risk their bodies for the competitive,and financial rewards.
Do I want players to get hurt? I agree with Harrison's post game comments..hurt is fine to knock them out of playing this week...but injured..NO...Yet if it happens, they can't say they didn't know it might happen.

Goodell doesn't need to worry about going over the top to protect these men....Sure, improve pads, helmets, etc...but you can't tell a person to run slower, or hit softer....

Hitting always has been...AND ALWAYS SHOULD BE part of this great American game...