The NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers getting it on. Photo courtesy of profootballweekly.com
I’ve seen it on ESPN and Fox Sports reports and documentaries.
I can vividly recall my heart breaking when I saw former Chicago Bears quarterback and basic sunglasses-wearing bad-ass Jim McMahon struggling to remember where his home was on outings.
Not to mention big names such as McMahon’s Bears teammate Dave Duerson and former San Diego/just moved to Los Angeles Chargers and USC linebacker legend Junior Seau kill themselves.
And I’ll never forget the sad condition of Mike Webster, the Pittsburgh Steelers center from the Super Bowl glory days of the 1970s, who was the same age as I am now (fifty) when he passed away of a heart attack.
All because of Cardio Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, which is essentially brain damage caused by way too many concussions.
Which these guys – and many more football players (and hockey players, too; can’t forget them) I may add – have suffered from for so long as recent research found that out of 111 brains of former football players studied, all but one showed signs of CTE.
It’s at the point where for the past couple of years, whenever I watch a football game one of my first thoughts is this…
“I hope his head’s OK.”
I think that’s a main reason behind me, despite liking the pigskin game as much as the next guy, preferring baseball.
A thought came to me very recently regarding all of this on a personal level:
CELEBRATING UNDER THE FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Hart High School’s football team, from Newhall, CA, after winning a CIF championship. Photo courtesy of archive.signalscv.com
IF I HAD A CHILD – WHETHER IT WAS A SON OR EVEN A DAUGHTER (Plenty of girls have liked the sport enough to have played it and want to play it) – WOULD I LET HIM/HER PLAY FOOTBALL?
I won’t waste any more time on answering this:
If it was flag football in a Parks and Recreation league, sure!
That brand of the game is obviously much safer, with no tackling.
Now the big question; if it was a Pop Warner tackle league or a high school team…
My Answer: YES – if my kid really wanted to do it.
There would be one condition I would put upon my youngster before I signed the form, paid the entrance fees, signed up for the booster club, etc…
The first concussion my child suffered on the gridiron, he/she would be immediately pulled from the field by me – or I would order the coach to – and would be done for the season.
Like any other sane parent, I would take no chances with my loved one’s health.
He or she would be gone, then have a complete brain scan at the beginning of pre-season practice – and pass with flying colors – the next year before I would let them take the field.
I can’t make it clearer than that.
For all those parents and loved ones whose children are doing battle on that 100-yard space, whether he’s a eight-year old in Pee-Wees, a 16-year old under the Friday Night Lights, or a five-star recruit at one of the country’s collegiate football kingdoms,
I pray that your kid gets through this season concussion-free.
Action from a Pop Warner game. Photo courtesy of readingpopwarner.com