League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis documentary online


Replace helmets with scrum caps. Let’s see how many of them want to butt heads then.

Combine economic incentives with a bit of good, old-fashioned, browbeating from The Coach(a figure so frequently kept on a suitably short leash by his ostensible bosses…) and peer pressure from the team, and I bet the answer will be ‘enough of them’.

Remember, American Football used to be such a violent game that President Teddy “not usually accused of being a wimp” Roosevelt personally pressured Ivy League officials because Our Fine Young Men of Good Stock were dying and being crippled in excessive numbers.

The traumatic brain injuries are notable mostly for being subtle enough that it was actually possible to sustain denial for any significant length of time…

I didn’t watch to the end, but I wonder if they addressed the impact of new technology like helmet sensors: http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2013/08/20/302239.htm I don’t know if pulling people from the field at the first sign of concussion would make a difference in long run, or if the damage built up from mild non-concussive impacts over a few decades is enough to create the same kind of brain damage.

I wonder how many people realize they’re footing the bill for that $765 million class-action settlement, not to mention all the obfuscation and intimidation the NFL demonstrated in that documentary, simply by having a cable subscription with ESPN in it.


1906: “Come on, football’s not that violent! Only 18 college players died this year!”

Force equals mass times acceleration. Players are both bigger and faster than they were even 20 years ago, and all the evidence suggests that the brain injury crisis has gotten worse as players have gotten bigger. (In 1963, “Big Daddy” Lipscomb of the Baltimore Colts was the sole 300 pounder in the NFL; “Refrigerator” Perry, who was considered unbelievably huge in the 1980s, was 335 pounds. This year, the Rams have an offensive tackle who is over 400 pounds. You might be surprised, as I was, to learn that Elmer Layden, the biggest and heaviest of the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” backfield at Notre Dame in the 1920s, was 165 pounds.) It’s unlikely that players are going to get any slower, and huge players seem to be getting faster and faster (the heaviest NFL player ever, Aaron Gibson, who was 410+ pounds, ran a 5.35 40-yard dash!), so the obvious solution is strict weight limits. Given equal speed, a 250 pound player is going to only hit you with 76% of the force of a 330 pound player. (Ok, 75.75757575…%) Figure out the number of newtons that cause concussion, and set your limits accordingly. A good source for data would be to look north of the border at the CFL, where the game is still pretty damned fast, but the players are much smaller.

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This is why I prefer the carefree, compassionate, and peaceful nature of the game of old time professional ice hockey.


Plus, the NFL is a 501©6 ‘nonprofit’ organization, so no pesky taxes!

1914: “Well, I guess 1906 was actually pretty peaceful after all…”

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