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mesaSteeler
05-05-2012, 11:34 PM
Commentary: When will deaths of NFL players stop?
May 6, 2012 12:32 am
http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/steelers/commentary-when-will-deaths-of-nfl-players-stop-634553/
By Sam Mellinger / Kansas City Star

A gray-haired woman in a green floral dress is screaming the worst moment of her life in front of the entire world. Luisa Seau stands in front of microphones and cameras, on televisions across the country wailing the sometimes incoherent words of every mother's worst nightmare.

"I pray to God," she screams, "please take me, take me and leave my son, but it's too late. Too late."

You might have seen the heartbreaking video already. If you watched television at all Wednesday, or opened up a web browser, it was hard to miss and harder to stomach that Junior Seau, 43 years old, apparently killed himself with a gunshot to the chest.

This is a former NFL Man of the Year not even retired long enough to be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame but leaving behind three children and a line of crying teammates.

Police believe his death was a suicide. If so, Seau is the third former football player to shoot himself to death in the past 15 months, and what might be the most serious issue in sports has a new face that a new generation of fans can remember and some painful questions must now be asked.

How much longer can this go? What's your tolerance for this? How much stamina do you have for the men you cheer today dying tragic and premature deaths in the coming years? How much longer can you be a fan of a sport that appears to be killing its athletes?

Sports are supposed to be an escape from real life. That's part of what makes us love them so much, part of what makes football one of America's most popular forms of entertainment. For three hours every Saturday or Sunday, there is no mortgage payment, no deadline at work, no medical bills.

Only now, those games are themselves a proven source of life's biggest problems and eventually that has to matter longer than it takes to hold a moment of silence and plan a funeral.

If Seau did kill himself, we don't know why, of course. An investigation might help, or it might leave the same haunting questions from the day two years ago he drove his Escalade off a cliff.

Seau told police he fell asleep at the wheel that day and promised his best friends the same. But people who knew him suspected an attempted suicide even back then. Seau had a divorce and failed businesses and the same demons that chase a lot of people -- athletes and otherwise.

So, no. We don't know the most critical answers around a tragic death. We don't know if he had a brain injury, or whether there's a connection between this tragic end and a legendary 20-year pro football career.

But we do know that football leads to concussions, and concussions can lead to depression, and depression can lead to suicide. The pattern is undeniable. We also know this chilling next paragraph to be true:

There is not only precedent for ex-football players killing themselves, but precedent for them doing it with a gunshot to the chest so their brains can be examined for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a form of brain damage that is related to blows to the head.

Think about that. It's almost as though these former NFL players are teaching each other how to kill themselves without stunting the progress of science to hopefully learn more about an awful trend in which we are all conspirators.

If those last four words make you uncomfortable, well, good. They should. Makes me uncomfortable to write them, but it's the truth. The brutal truth.

Our collective passion for football drives these men to do dangerous things. The money generated by our obsession with football means a lot of powerful people are motivated to keep their sport's life-threatening side effects minimized as long as they can.

Hockey has had some similar problems, you probably know. But that sport's issues with brain injury are rarer than football's and ostensibly easier to fix. Stop in-game fighting and you have a chance at reducing the most serious long-term consequences.

Violence is part of football's DNA, as intricate a part of the sport as the Hail Mary or sweep left. Football leads American sports in killing its own athletes and in a better world it would be past time we accept this as an unfortunate consequence of our entertainment.

No amount of penalties from the Saints' bounty scandal can cover for the fact that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been shamefully and irresponsibly late in recognizing and addressing his sport's dangers.

His recent pushes for an 18-game schedule make him a hypocrite on this, and if he ever mentions it again, he'll lose much of his remaining credibility.

The same moments we cheer so loudly today may very well be contributing to deaths tomorrow and no matter what happens from now on, Goodell's handling of this impossible issue will be a major part of how he is remembered.

One of football's greatest linebackers is dead now, and in the most direct way, he apparently did this to himself by pulling the trigger. But the difficult question the rest of us should now consider more seriously than ever before is how much of a push he got from the violence of the profession millions of us have made so lucrative.

At some point, we football fans have to decide how much we can love a sport that is apparently killing too many of its athletes and this is the part of the column where you're supposed to read some naive plea that things must change.

In a more idealistic world, maybe that would happen. But here in this world, tickets are on sale. A lot of you will be at the games. I will, too.

tanda10506
05-06-2012, 03:17 PM
That's why I could never pull the trigger on myself, all the problems your going through aren't even close to the hurt your about to cause for at least 2 or 3 people, maybe more.

bac151rum
05-07-2012, 07:17 AM
I had the privelege of going to listen to a presentation by Dr. Cantu, the BU doctor who's been studying brain trauma among athletes. I walked out of there and almost pulled my kids out of football, its that scary. What was even scarier was that I looked around the auditoreum and all I saw were parents and athletes. I was the only high school football coach there.

Vis
05-07-2012, 11:22 AM
I had the privelege of going to listen to a presentation by Dr. Cantu, the BU doctor who's been studying brain trauma among athletes. I walked out of there and almost pulled my kids out of football, its that scary. What was even scarier was that I looked around the auditoreum and all I saw were parents and athletes. I was the only high school football coach there.

It is scary. Sometimes I think the only answer is less equipment.

tony hipchest
05-07-2012, 04:57 PM
What was even scarier was that I looked around the auditoreum and all I saw were parents and athletes. I was the only high school football coach there.

thats crazy. if i was principal or superintendent of a school, i would make it mandatory for all coaches (atleast for football/hockey) attend atleast one or view a videotaped seminar for awareness and safety training. maybe its soemthing that could be voted on by school boards.

bac151rum
05-07-2012, 08:06 PM
I was able to convince the Athletic Director to invest in some baseline testing software for concussions. We're a small high school, but I think we may be the only one in the area that tests all athletes (not just football, but all athletes, male and female) before the seasons start to get a baseline to make sure that no one who suffers from a concussion comes back to early.
On a related note, we did have, about 15 years ago, a player who suffered from 2nd concussion syndrom, where he got a minor concussion one week and then the next week he suffered another one, very major. Kid was out of school for two months. Talked to him about 4 weeks afterwords on the phone and it was like talking to someone through jello. Took him 5, 10 seconds to answer yes or no questions.

Lady Steel
05-08-2012, 01:23 AM
When will deaths of NFL players stop? Never. Everybody dies eventually.

tony hipchest
05-08-2012, 02:54 PM
I was able to convince the Athletic Director to invest in some baseline testing software for concussions. We're a small high school, but I think we may be the only one in the area that tests all athletes (not just football, but all athletes, male and female) before the seasons start to get a baseline to make sure that no one who suffers from a concussion comes back to early..

kudos. i guess it all starts with a consciensious AD or concerned parent/coach such as yourself. like i said, maybe it takes individual school boards getting involved for all HS atheletics to be more pro active, but i wouldnt be opposed to state legislation (atleast for the public schools).

after all it is the public paying taxes for the schools, and public paying to attend the events, and in every case the publics children participating.

at bare minimum, training and awareness, such as attending the type of eye opening seminar you were able to attend should be made mandatory.

Edman
05-09-2012, 08:55 AM
When you can twist the rules of the universe and abolish death from inevitability.

Everyone dies eventually.

DG94
05-09-2012, 12:50 PM
When you can twist the rules of the universe and abolish death from inevitability.

Everyone dies eventually.

Yes, that's a fact of life. They don't shoot themselves with a shotgun though.

Edman
05-09-2012, 02:10 PM
Yes, that's a fact of life. They don't shoot themselves with a shotgun though.

If that were the case, then "when will NFL Suicides stop" is a better question.

Atlanta Dan
05-11-2012, 11:14 AM
Yes, that's a fact of life. They don't shoot themselves with a shotgun though.

The causal link between CTE and repeated blows to the head sustained from playing football is pretty clear

The causal link between CTE and suicide? Perhaps not as clear as the recent media storm might lead one to believe.

News outlets (including this one) have suddenly became aware of some surprising and important CDC research published in January in the American Journal of Cardiology. At the request of the NFL Players Association, government scientists compared the death rates for almost 3,500 of the league's retirees to those for age- and race-matched non-athletes over the same years. The football players had much longer lives: Just 334 of them had passed away, compared with an expected total of 625....

And among the athletes who regularly played professional football between 1959 and 1988, a total of nine perished as a result of "intentional self-harm," compared with an expected number of about 22. The sample size was small, but the effect is large: Ex-NFLers were 59 percent less likely to commit suicide....

As for Junior Seau, the theory that concussions—a few big ones, 1,500 tiny ones, whatever—led to his death is not merely speculative; it's willfully ignorant. Seau was beset with a smorgasbord of risk factors for suicide, regardless of the state of his brain. He spent part of his childhood sleeping on the concrete floor of the family garage and was beaten vigorously with a wooden paddle. Seau's parents were immigrants from Samoa, where suicide rates are among the highest in the world. He had relationship problems—he'd suffered through a divorce, then got arrested for domestic abuse in 2010. As a hard-hitting linebacker, one could argue that he had a history of aggressive behavior. Like many football players, perhaps, he had access to a gun....

It wasn't so long ago that we blamed athletes' unexpected deaths on performance-enhancing drugs, not head trauma. When pro wrestler Chris "the Canadian Crippler" Benoit killed his wife and son and then hanged himself in 2007, authorities blamed the incident on anabolic steroids. In 2005, Congress heard testimony from the parents of young athletes who had committed suicide while experiencing the putative effects of steroid withdrawal, and researchers trotted out anecdotal reports to prove the link.

If Junior Seau had killed himself when George W. Bush was still in office, we'd all be talking about the cream and the clear, not CTE. But you don't hear much talk about steroids and suicide today. Is it passť to observe that around 9 percent of NFL retirees admit to having used steroids during their career?...

Former players kill themselves for the same reason as everyone else—because they're sad and alone and deprived of the psychiatric care that could maybe save their lives.

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/05/junior_seau_s_suicide_are_concussions_responsible_ .html

Not saying i agree with this argument - just saying any former NFL player who thinks the NFL is going to assume the fetal position and just ask how big a settlement check former NFL players want to receive better get prepared to have their personal life sliced and diced during civil discovery.

Vis
05-11-2012, 12:07 PM
The link between a lowered quality of life and CTE is established. They don't all have to kill themselves for the issue to be discussed, do they?

And the beauty of brain cases is, poor choices by the plaintiff work against the defense. Unless your suggesting using the threat of embarrassing disclosure to chill the pursuit of the claims.

Atlanta Dan
05-11-2012, 01:00 PM
The link between a lowered quality of life and CTE is established. They don't all have to kill themselves for the issue to be discussed, do they?

And the beauty of brain cases is, poor choices by the plaintiff work against the defense. Unless your suggesting using the threat of embarrassing disclosure to chill the pursuit of the claims.

As you know, a history of being abused as a child or drug abuse isn't just an "embarassing disclosure" - it is an alternative proximate cause argument for the player taking his life that can blow up the plaintiff's burden of proving the employment related blows to the head caused the suicide

Litigation is not a game of bean bag - it's hardball

Vis
05-11-2012, 01:21 PM
As you know, a history of being abused as a child or drug abuse isn't just an "embarassing disclosure" - it is an alternative proximate cause argument for the player taking his life that can blow up the plaintiff's burden of proving the employment related blows to the head caused the suicide

Litigation is not a game of bean bag - it's hardball

If the other theory predates the concussions, the defense expert would need to show behaviors existing prior as well. If the other theory is substance abuse, etc.. after the concussions, no neuro-psychologist can get away with a failure to acknowledge the frequency of people with TBIs self medicating as a result. The same is true for isolation or failed relationships. I've got the learned treatises on my credenza.

Atlanta Dan
05-11-2012, 02:20 PM
If the other theory predates the concussions, the defense expert would need to show behaviors existing prior as well. If the other theory is substance abuse, etc.. after the concussions, no neuro-psychologist can get away with a failure to acknowledge the frequency of people with TBIs self medicating as a result. The same is true for isolation or failed relationships. I've got the learned treatises on my credenza.

No doubt plaintiff's (and defendant's) attorneys can usually find experts with enough "science" in their paid opinions to get past the Daubert motion to exclude their testimony - all I am saying is that winning a lawsuit is not as easy as writing a sports column that attributes a suicide to the callous and uncaring nature of a sport without any knowledge of the deceased's medical condition

Vis
05-11-2012, 02:59 PM
No doubt plaintiff's (and defendant's) attorneys can usually find experts with enough "science" in their paid opinions to get past the Daubert motion to exclude their testimony - all I am saying is that winning a lawsuit is not as easy as writing a sports column that attributes a suicide to the callous and uncaring nature of a sport without any knowledge of the deceased's medical condition


I'm trying a brain injury case in Oconee county in 4 weeks. Come watch.

Another in fed ct in august if it doesn't settle at mediation.

Atlanta Dan
05-11-2012, 05:14 PM
I'm trying a brain injury case in Oconee county in 4 weeks. Come watch.

Another in fed ct in august if it doesn't settle at mediation.

No thanks

Have my own cases to handle

I do not hear you disagreeing with my contention that just because you keep your expert testimony from being struck and get your case to the jury that alone means the defendant is liable

Vis
05-11-2012, 06:30 PM
No thanks

Have my own cases to handle

I do not hear you disagreeing with my contention that just because you keep your expert testimony from being struck and get your case to the jury that alone means the defendant is liable

you're kidding

Neuropsychology is too well established for challenge. It's dueling experts on the interpretation of the data.

And you don't pursue these cases if liability is a question unless damages are huge.

In the NFL case, do you think they will challenge causation again? That would be a PR nightmare and undermine the changes Goodell is trying to implement. the issue will be the terms of the class action settlement which will be more about the equitable remedies than specific damages. The cost will be in the continuing medical care they will finally agree to provide.

4xSBChamps
05-12-2012, 08:49 AM
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y272/Glensgages/football/NFL-gladiator.jpg

Hawaii 5-0
05-17-2012, 05:13 PM
Tragedies, Players And The NFL

Thursday, May 17th, 2012 by Christina L. Rivers

Is tragedy a larger issue for past NFL players than we ever dreamed was possible? The death of Junior Seau has uncovered a dark side of the retirement world post-professional football that would have Obi Wan shuddering. The sports world is abuzz with questions about how the league will handle what has surfaced and how much they've known all along and never addressed.

Fans and players alike have condemned NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for initiating new rules regarding player safety, saying he was ruining the game. Statements about how football would turn into 'powder-puff' games with 'men in skirts' became so common on social networking sites that it had its own following. The question now should be whether or not the NFL and Goodell are doing enough; not how the game will be a shadow of its old self.

Post-career issues have moved to the forefront whether we feel uncomfortable about it or not. With Seau's alleged suicide and those closest to him saying such action was uncharacteristic of him, we see that our heroes aren't immune to personal tragedy. We may never know why Seau drove his car off of a cliff in 2010 and then took his life two years later.

In 2011, Dave Duerson (former defensive back for the Chicago Bears) shot himself in the chest. He left a note behind for his family asking them to donate his brain for research on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE has been discovered in at least 20 other deceased former professional football players. Duerson (50) believed he suffered from the condition, and upon examination of his brain, evidence was positive.

CTE is progressive and degenerative. Unfortunately, research has been unable to pinpoint the exact cause-effect. CTE was only part of the reason the NFL implemented rules they can only assume will help prevent brain trauma.

Two weeks prior to Duerson's death, former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Ray Easterling (62) fatally shot himself. His wife told FoxSports.com that her husband suffered from depression, dementia and insomnia.

In regards to Seau, Julian E. Bailes, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at University of Chicago North Shore and former NFL, current NCAA team physician and co-founder of the Brain Injury Research Institute said, "You're looking at someone who is approaching or at 30 years of exposure (to repetitive head injuries)."

Bailes has studied the brains of former Steelers greats; Mike Webster, Terry Long and Justin Strzelczyk. He has also autopsied former NFL players; Andre Waters (Philadelphia Eagles) and Chris Henry (Cincinnati Bengals). Dr. Bailes was once the team physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers and a team physician for the West Virginia University Mountaineers football team. His research is maintained at North Carolina University. In Chapel Hill, Dr. Bailes and his colleagues hold a brain and tissue bank at the Center for Study of Retired Athletes.

Eight San Diego Chargers players who were on the 1994 AFC Championship team (Super Bowl XXIX) had passed away before Seau joined them. Linebacker David Griggs (28) was killed in June 1995 after his car left a South Florida expressway ramp and hit a pole. Four additional teammates died between 2008 and 2011; Chris Mims (Oct. 15, 2008) of an enlarged heart, Doug Miller from heart failure following a double lightning strike, Shawn Lee (44) whose heart arrested after he suffered double pneumonia and a battle with diabetes and Rodney Culver (26) died after boarding ValuJet Flight 592 that crashed into the Florida Everglades.

Granted, there is no evidence as such to say that any of the Chargers' tragedies were brought on by CTE. Many health issues that past players have experienced can't be proven as being caused by CTE either; yet.

Hank Bauer, a former Chargers player and the team's radio analyst said publicly about Seau, "There was zero warning...I think the message is this: We all forget that people we idolize are just...people. Do we have unreal expectations of our heroes?"

Jason Whitlock of FoxSports wrote an interesting piece about how he felt the game could be changed to make it "worth the risk" players take year after year, play after play. He compared life after the NFL for the "typical player" to be equivalent to a Wall Street millionaire losing everything he had in a stock-market crash. It has become apparent that post-NFL life has taken its toll on many, and that those who've been fighting in court to prove their case may just be the spark that lights an inferno.

While we mourn the loss of our iron-men, all of us should re-investigate whether we love them enough to allow the game to change. One less retired jersey hanging in a stadium because of injuries and death caused by playing a game we love would suit me just fine. I'd rather see that jersey retired with the man who wore it holding it up for the world to see.

http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/05/tragedies-players-and-the-nfl/

Twentyvalve
05-18-2012, 07:50 AM
Stupid title. Nobody can "stop" their deaths. Why is it more important to stop them from dieing than me? guess after reading the article, they mean premature deaths as a possible result of head trauma. Journalism is turning us all into nitwits. The title should absolutely accurately reflect the content of the article, otherwise is becomes sensationalism and not objective journalism.

As for the content of the article, it is scary stuff. We will have to wait and see if new and improved equipment, rule adjustments, and other changes have a long term effect.

Atlanta Dan
05-18-2012, 02:18 PM
Sad fact is that NFL players are not immortal and will continue to die along with the rest of us, although perhaps not as early and often as those with certain agendas to pursue might lead us to believe.

With Junior Seau's death putting the spotlight back on the health of retired NFL players, journalists and radio hosts last week recycled a scary statistic. As ABC News reported it: "The average life expectancy of a retired football player is 58, according to the NFL Players Association ... a stark contrast to the average American man's life expectancy of 75."

The trouble is that this oft-repeated number (sometimes 58, other times 55) is false. That bit of gridiron legend has been around since at least 1990, when the NFLPA asked the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to investigate the statistic's accuracy. NIOSH tracked nearly 7,000 players and issued a report, in '94, concluding that NFL retirees were dying at about half the rate of their American male peers. In other words NFL players, in general, live longer.

In January, a second NIOSH report again found that NFL players were outliving their non-NFL cohort, partly due to lower cancer rates that could be the result of their lower rate of smoking. NIOSH also found that former players were at a decreased risk of dying from heart disease (with the exception of players who had a high body mass index). And the rate of suicide among NFL vets was 59% lower than in the general population. Overall, for the 3,439 ex--NFL players in the more recent study, NIOSH projected 625 deaths, using nonathlete mortality rates, but observed only 334 (chart).

The NFLPA tells SI that it did not provide the number used in the ABC News report, so it is difficult to know why the age 58 figure is still being disseminated. Certainly the current public discussion about player health is an important one to have. But for the good of those same players, it should remain grounded in data.

http://si.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1198483/index.htm

pancake
05-19-2012, 04:50 PM
We all die...