A new book set for release Tuesday called League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth is set to challenge the NFL and their denial of a connection between concussions and football.
Written by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, investigative reporters for ESPN, the book claims the NFL has not only known about the connection between concussions in the NFL and long-term brain injuries for about 20 years, but the league has been actively trying to cover up these facts.
The suicides of Junior Seau as well as former NFL players such as the Bears’ David Duerson and the Eagles’ Andre Waters have brought this issue to the forefront of players’ and fans’ minds. All three players are thought to have suffered severe brain damage from injuries while playing football, all of which lead to their unfortunate suicides.
The NFL has claimed for years they had no knowledge of any relation between the brain injuries sustained from concussions and the deaths of professional players. Even in the face of a recent lawsuit from players, the league held firm to their stance.
The league did settle the recent lawsuit out of court for $765 million, and many questions were raised asking if the league has been honest with how much they know about the possible link between concussions and football.
For a long time, concussions in the professional level of football were not seen as a big issue because no one knew of the long-term effects. Former New York Jets defensive lineman Marty Lyons talked with Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com where he described his own sideline concussion experience.
Lyons said whenever a player would come off the field, the physician would hold up some fingers, ask how many and, despite the player’s answer, the physician said, “Close enough.” A couple plays later, or even the next play, the player would find themselves on the field once again.
“That wasn’t the doctors or trainers saying, ‘You’re OK,’” Lyons said in the interview. “I’m not saying the league didn’t know, I’m not saying the players didn’t know. It was part of the game.”
According to the authors of League of Denial, the cover-up of how much the NFL knew about the connection started when the former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue created a concussion committee in 1994 to better understand the effects of concussions on players. A few members of the committee came forward in 1995 saying concussions were not “minor injuries” as previously thought. These claims were quickly hushed by the NFL.
Another claim the book makes is that around 2000, some of the country’s top neuroscientists told the NFL the big hits in football, especially those considered head-to-head, led to not only concussions, but also what is known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Some of the symptoms of CTE are higher rates of depression, dementia, memory loss and brain damage.
The NFL, rather than publishing these findings and telling players of the potential harm, made no such effort and tried to ignore the facts.
Then in 2005, the authors report the NFL tried to persuade a medical journal to retract articles and findings on concussions and their effects on individuals. The journal in question refused and the findings continued to circulate without interference.
The authors spoke with Dr. Ann McKee, a former assistant professor of neuropathology at Harvard Medical School and one of the leading professionals on the link between football and brain damage, who said of the 54 harvested brains of deceased NFL players, only two did not have CTE.
However, all of these findings are not just exclusive to professional football. Youth, high school and college football players are also at a high risk for concussions.
A report from 2007 titled “Concussions Among United States High School and Collegiate Athletes,” found that about 300,000 people aged 15 to 24 suffered traumatic brain injuries every year from contact sports. This number is only second to brain injuries sustained from motor vehicle accidents.
This same study also found of the total number of concussions from other collegiate sports, including boys’ and girls’ soccer and basketball, football was responsible for more than 40 percent of the concussions.
Concussions in high school sports have even led to the death of young athletes. Jaquan Waller and Matthew Gfeller are two football players who died in North Carolina after head injuries sustained during high school games this season.
A study from the University of Pittsburgh found that over the past decade, 30-40 high school football players have died from concussions, and the likelihood of contact sport athletes to receive a concussion is 19 percent.
Changes are coming to the NFL, however, most notably in the minds of players. Bengals’ cornerback Brandon Ghee received two concussions in back-to-back preseason games against the Falcons and Titans. Ghee was forced to take a five-week break from contact because of these injuries.
In an interview with The Enquirer, Ghee said if it weren’t for the recent deaths and lawsuit, he would have wanted to go back to play immediately. Now though, he’s not so sure. “After the second one you have to think about your kids and family,” Ghee said in the interview. “You don’t want any long-lasting issues.”
Word on the internets suggests that our sports team-supporting mayor is going to publicly recognize the UC Bearcat football team outside City Hall today. From his botched opening day pitch (which was so hilariously poor that it landed him on national talk shows) to his recent vote of confidence in the Cincinnati Bengals, Mayor Mallory is way out of it when it comes to sports.
The UC Bearcats came from behind in the fourth quarter to beat Hawaii 29-24 and finish off an amazing 11-2 regular season. Receiver Mardy Gilyard, who graces the cover of this week's CityBeat, caught the winning touchdown pass.
It seems like months ago that football was actually interesting. The first round of the NFL playoffs is cool, and the conference semifinals offer a nice slate of games over a two-day period. But once the conference championships get here, it’s like, “Ah, I’m bored. F the Steelers, and the NFC sucks.”
Then the two-week media break comes, and all we have is speculation, feel-good stories and those weird video game demonstrations on ESPN. (Does anyone else hate Mark Schlabach?) If I have to listen to John Clayton answer another Coors Lite six-pack of Super Bowl questions, I’m going to drink six of those watery beers and smash each bottle over my head. I’ve done it before.
It happened again. This time it didn’t include cat chasing or yelling in the streets at 3 a.m., but Brian Kelly’s outrageous head coaching decisions yesterday threatened to ruin a perfectly good Friday night, just like they did last Saturday.
In yet another episode of "I'm a Real Person and McCain Is a Phony," Barack Obama yesterday told ESPN's Chris Berman that if he could change one thing about sports that it would be to eliminate the current college football championship format in favor of an eight-team playoff.
The exchange was a pre-taped segment that aired during halftime of Monday Night Football. McCain was asked the same question, and his response was that he would do everything he can to eliminate performance enhancing drugs because they threaten the integrity of the game. What an asshole.
Fantasy football can make you feel like George W. Bush did when that guy threw shoes at his face. I think the only way to deal with not winning any money again this year is to blame the players on my team, the firearms they misused and my own draft day shortcomings.
AFC North teams did a nice job overall in this year’s draft. Most teams addressed their main needs and picked up late round steals that very well could contribute next season. Here’s my breakdown of each team’s strongest picks as well as a final overall grade for their draft selections.
The destruction of the Jets two weeks ago by the Bengals saw not only the largest margin of victory for our football team in many years, but also the emergence of second-year wide receiver Marvin Jones.
The Bengals brought Jones aboard in 2012, but not until the fifth round of the draft — much to Jones' disappointment. He assumed he was going to be drafted in the second round, and many scouts agreed, also thinking he would go in the second or third round. Looking at his college stats, it’s easy to see why.
Jones played at University of California, Berkeley, and scored 13 touchdowns throughout his four seasons with the team.
As a wide-receiver, he averaged 14.6 yards with the team with 156 receptions for a total of 2,270 yards. This includes a freshmen year when Jones only made one reception for eight yards.
With these stats, it’s no wonder he was predicted for the second round.
In his rookie season with the Bengals, though, Jones didn’t see much play time. He started in five of 11 games, but this season Jones has exploded on the scene.
When the Bengals and Jets played on Oct. 27, Jones set a franchise record of four touchdowns in a single game, with a total of 122 receiving yards.
If the Bengals had not called off the hounds with 17 minutes left in the game, it is safe to say Jones very well could have tied the record for receiving touchdowns in one game.
This record is currently held by Hall of Fame players Kellen Winslow and Jerry Rice, as well as Bob Shaw, all of whom scored five receiving touchdowns in one game.
One comparison we can draw from Jones to an active NFL wide-receiver is the Broncos’ Wes Welker.
Welker, who gained mass popularity as one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets for the Patriots, sports impressive stats with close to 10,000 career receiving yards in regular season play.
As an established receiver, Welker currently holds the most red zone touchdowns for this season at eight, followed closely by Jones’ seven in the red zone.
What really made this possible for Jones was not only his superb skill set and hands these past few weeks, but also quarterback Andy Dalton’s trust in his many receivers.
Dalton has not played favorites with receivers since the loss against the Browns where he threw the ball to A.J. Green 15 times.
Jones, in an interview with Coley Harvey for ESPN.com, said Dalton is spending extra time in film and practice with the other receivers, making the relationship between the QB and his many targets stronger than ever.
With the second half of the regular season upon us, this level of cooperation in the backfield will be vital, and if Jones’ professional career is anything like his college career, we can expect him to continue to grow and improve alongside the team.