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An Ugly Truth–Football Can Cause Brain Damage – FORBES.COM

Oct 15, 2013   //   by admin   //   Concussion Awareness, SSE Blog, Steinberg Sports News  //  Comments Off on An Ugly Truth–Football Can Cause Brain Damage – FORBES.COM

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10/14/2013 @ 12:29PM |344 views – by Leigh Steinberg

An Ugly Truth–Football Can Cause Brain Damage

I love the game of football. It is America’s passion for a reason. Athletes learn invaluable life lessons from their participation in football at whatever level they participate. The ability to stay self-disciplined, put hard work ahead of immediate gratification, master a complex playbook, work within a team concept and elevate levels of performance in critical situations are skills transferable to success in any non-football endeavor. The sport models those values every day in a way that inspires young people. I have enjoyed forty years of excitement and recompense in assisting players to live a fulfilling life. But there is an ugly truth surrounding the sport that drastically needs attention–concussions cause brain damage and future catastrophic consequences.

If mothers attempt to safeguard their children by preventing them from participating in the sport, its talent supply will dry up. And if the risks push every athlete with other options to play those sports instead, all that will remain are athletes so desperate to escape economic circumstances that they accept the prospect of later mental disability as a necessity.

Football will always be a contact game with the risk of concussion. I believe that the very line play that is the basis of the game produces low-level concussion events on every single play. When offensive and defensive linemen collide to begin a play they are suffering a slight change in their consciousness. Their brains are forced against the interior skull.  No one is knocked out, they just go onto the next play. The definition of concussion is not confined to someone suffering a blow, which knocks them unconsciousness. It is a blow to the head or body causing a change in brain function. It is possible that an offensive lineman could retire after a career of high school, collegiate, and professional practices and games with thousands of sub-concussive hits, not one of which was ever measured or monitored. This is why I think this issue is an undiagnosed health epidemic, which is a ticking time bomb for future consequences.

I want to see high school, college and NFL football continue to be played and enjoyed by players and fans alike. Action is urgently needed. First, blocking and tackling with the head or neck needs to be eliminated from Pop Warner and earliest football experiences. We need coaches to teach alternative techniques to kids so they know how to be effective from their youth on. Then these proscribed hits need to be heavily penalized at every level.

Second priority is to throw research and development resources into safer helmetry. Current helmets primarily protect against skull fracture, the energy wave goes right through the plastic and liner to the head. If we can send a spacecraft into deepest space, engineers and techs can find a way to attenuate the blow. Several promising technologies are racing for solution.

Third priority is more sophisticated diagnostic measuring devices that can evaluate players rapidly on the sidelines to judge whether they have been impaired and should not return to play. Players need to be asymptomatic at rest, on exercise equipment, and at practice prior to returning to play so they can avoid second concussion syndrome.

Fourth priority is to find pharmaceutical or neutraceutical medicines and supplements that can provide some prophylactic protection prior to the hit. When the hit occurs the right medicines ingested quickly can minimize consequence.

The ultimate goal is to find a substance that will heal the already concussed brain. Research scientist and medical personnel are currently racing to find the most effective protocols to achieve this. The NFL is not the only place that these injuries occur–youth sports participants, high school and college athletes in a variety of sports are at risk. It is the NFL that has the prestige and resources to take the lead in this research.

Parents, marital partners, owners, coaches, trainers, doctors need to unite to penetrate the denial that athletes are involved in from their earliest days when it regards injury and long term health. We are close to launching a concussion awareness and research foundation, Athlete’s Speak, to put active and retired athletes in the forefront of speaking out for greater safety. This injury is different from the rest–it affects the brain, memory, personality, and reasoning. Everyone who loves football needs to act to preserve it.

Revisit Troy Aikman’s Scary 1994 Concussion – ‘Where Am I? … Did We Win?’ – KERA

Oct 14, 2013   //   by admin   //   Concussion Awareness, SSE Blog, Steinberg Sports News  //  Comments Off on Revisit Troy Aikman’s Scary 1994 Concussion – ‘Where Am I? … Did We Win?’ – KERA

Revisit Troy Aikman’s Scary 1994 Concussion – ‘Where Am I? … Did We Win?’
By Eric Aasen

Quarterback Troy Aikman during his Cowboys days. A 1994 concussion is featured in a PBS Frontline documentary.

This week, an explosive PBS documentary investigated concussions in the NFL — and it featured former Cowboys star Troy Aikman.

The Frontline program, “League of Denial,” reported on a concussion that the Cowboys quarterback suffered in 1994, as well as a scary exchange that he had with his agent following the incident. Aikman experienced significant memory issues. He sat in a darkened hospital room, unable to stare at light.

During the 1994 NFC championship game, Aikman took a knee to the head. Leigh Steinberg, who represented Aikman in the early 1990s, recalled the aftermath:

Frontline Narrator: Aikman’s concussion was bad enough that he could not return to the game. Aikman was taken to a local hospital.

Agent Leigh Steinberg:I went to visit Troy, who was sitting in a darkened hospital room all alone.

Steve Fainaru, co-author of “League of Denial:” The room is dark because Aikman can’t even stand looking into the light. It’s— you know, it’s this sort of surreal scene where the city is celebrating and the quarterback who won the game is in the hospital with his agent.

Leigh Steinberg: He looked at me and he said, “Leigh, where am I?” And I said, “Well, you’re in the hospital.” And he said, “Well, why am I here?” And I said, “Because you suffered a concussion today.” And he said, “Well, who did we play?” And I said, “The 49ers.” And he said, “Did we win?” “Yes, you won.” “Did I play well?” “Yes, you played well.” “Did— what does that— and so what’s that mean?” “It means you’re going to the Super Bowl.”

Mark Fainaru-Wada, co-author of “League of Denial:” Five minutes later, they’re sitting there, they’re continuing to hang out, and Aikman suddenly turns to Steinberg and says, “What am I doing here?” And the next thing you know, they are reliving this conversation they’d had five minutes earlier.

Leigh Steinberg: For a minute, I thought he was joking. And I went through the same sequence of answers again. And his face brightened and we celebrated again. Maybe 10 minutes passed, and he looked at me with the same puzzled expression and asked the same sequence of questions.
It terrified me to see how tender the bond was between sentient consciousness and potential dementia and confusion was.


Burleson still aiming big

Oct 14, 2013   //   by Fantasy - NFL.com   //   Fantasy Football, SSE Blog  //  Comments Off on Burleson still aiming big

Burleson has lofty post-injury goals: Can Nate Burleson reach 1,000 receiving yards this season despite missing time after a pizza-related car accident that even he is laughing about now? He certainly thinks so. Burleson averaged about 80 receiving yards per game in the first three weeks of the season, which would have put him on pace to go well over 1,000 over the course of a 16-game season. But the recent accident will become a bigger obstacle the longer it lingers. The good news, though? With a number of inter-divisional games left, the Vikings, Packers and Bears all rank in the bottom 10 at defending the pass this season. Yes, it’s early. But the opportunities will be there. Get back soon, Nate. Your fantasy owners miss you. And while we’re on this topic. Lions vice chairman Bill Ford just described the Bears ”a bunch of thugs.” Nothing like a little hatred to get the motivation levels high.


James itching for bigger role: Niners RB LaMichael James had a pretty awesome line describing his current situation: I don’t work at State Farm, I’m not trying to be insurance.”

If only I could go back in time and rewrite my high school yearbook signature.

James doesn’t strike me as an every-down back who can be counted on to carry the ball 20-25 times per game, and he’s certainly not going to do that with Frank Gore ahead of him on the depth chart. But to only give him three carries all season long after he had a role in helping the Niners make their Super Bowl run last year? I’m not sure I get this one either, Mr. James. It’s not as if the Niners offense couldn’t have used the help during a pair of pretty pathetic showings in Weeks 2 and 3. I wonder if LMJ is in Jim Harbaugh’s dog house for some reason.


Eagles defense needs time? Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis’ thoughts on his unit’s slow start to the season: “The results did not show in that game, obviously, so I’m asking you to trust me,” Davis told reporters Tuesday.

Nah. I can’t, Billy. And believe me when i tell you that fantasy owners of offensive players love the fact that your defense is terrible. More possessions means more plays and more potential to score garbage-time points against soft zone defenses. Philly has scored more points in two of their last three games, and they would have done so again had they not inexplicably mailed it in so badly against he Broncos. The bottom line is the Eagles have problems on defense that are not fixable in one season. You’re not going to see many low-scoring battles with this team. Eagles games are fantasy gold for owners of both them and their opponents.

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Santonio Holmes expected to miss a few weeks

Oct 14, 2013   //   by Fantasy - NFL.com   //   Fantasy Football, SSE Blog  //  Comments Off on Santonio Holmes expected to miss a few weeks

Holmes suffers hamstring injury: New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes is expected to miss “at least a few weeks” after suffering a hamstring injury in last week’s loss to the Tennessee Titans. That leaves a hole in a thin Jets receiving corps with Stephen Hill missing nearly all of Sunday’s game after suffering a concussion. The team is expected to sign free agent David Nelson to fill in the gaps. While a matchup against a woebegone Falcons secondary on Monday night is somewhat appealing, the Jets offense is far too inconsistent to make any pass-catchers in green a viable option.

Jackson still not practicing: Steven Jackson was one of several key Atlanta Falcons not practicing on TuesdayJulio Jones and Sam Baker were other key offensive cogs sitting out, but Jackson’s status is most worrisome to an offense that has struggled on third downs and in the red zone this season. With a matchup against a good Jets rushing defense this week and a bye coming in Week 6, the Falcons might take this opportunity to get Jackson two more weeks of rest. That means more of Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling this week — not that either is a safe option against Gang Green.

McGahee ‘ain’t Trent Richardson’: Since dealing Trent Richardson, the Cleveland Browns are 2-0 — even if the running game hasn’t exactly popped. Recent veteran addition Willis McGahee summed up his role in the offense by saying “I know I ain’t Trent Richardson, but I’m here to play.” Don’t sell yourself short, Willis. McGahee ran the ball 15 times Sunday for 46 yards, averaging 3.1 yards per carry. By contrast, Richardson has averaged 3.5 yards per attempt in his short NFL career … and 3.0 yards per carry in Indy’s Week 4 win over Jacksonville. The name on the back of the jersey might be different, but so far, the production remains about the same. That probably says more about Richardson than it does McGahee.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

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