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New York Jets offensive guard Kelechi Osemele’s ongoing and now public dispute with the New York Jets, highlights a problem anchored deeply within NFL culture. In case you somehow missed it, the Jets threatened to discipline Osemele for “conduct detrimental”—and then on Saturday afternoon followed through with the threat by imposing a fine.
What conduct did the Jets organization deem to be detrimental? Mr. Osemele wants to have surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder
November 29,1992, is a day I will never forget. I was a member of the NY Jets and we were playing the Kansas City Chiefs, the team from which I had been traded the year before. I was excited to be playing against my old team and it was a home game for the Jets to boot. It didn’t take long for my excitement to turn to sadness and despair, not because we lost the game but
because we lost a teammate that day.
For every year of absorbing the pounding and repeated head collisions that comes with playing American tackle football, a person’s risk of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease, increases by 30 percent. And for every 2.6 years of play, the risk of developing CTE doubles. These new findings from an analysis of 266 deceased former amateur and professional football players—reported in Annals of Neurology by a team of researchers from the Boston University CTE Center—are the first to quantify the strength of the link between playing tackle football and developing CTE.
Covering the NFL concussion settlement litigation as it plays out, it’s easy to get caught up in the dockets and the numbers. It’s essential to remind ourselves that behind those figures and words are families and personal stories.
One of the individuals who was instrumental in beginning the story was former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Mike Webster through his family. Webster, who anchored the Pittsburgh offensive line through a dominant stretch of the middle and late 1970s, passed in 2002. Webster was also one of the first former NFL players to be diagnosed post-mortem with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Witnessing most of Webster’s story was his son, Garrett.
Andrew Luck and Amon Gordon are two Stanford alumni whose NFL options were very different. Over the weekend Colts’ quarterback, Andrew Luck startled the NFL world with his decision to retire at the relatively young age of 29. As Ken Belson writes, in the New York Times, “Luck belongs to a young generation more carefully weighing the dangers of the game against the financial rewards.
“I stayed in the game but was struggling to remember what the play call was when I was coming out of the huddle. Our quarterback would give us the play, but I’d forgotten once I got to the line of scrimmage. I kept tapping the center on the leg when we’d get into our stances: “What’s the call?”
Quarterback Ken Stabler, also nicknamed “The Snake”, played in the NFL from 1968 to 1984. He was the 1974 NFL MVP and was selected as the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team. These accomplishments came with a price though, as he experienced multiple health conditions when he retired. The late Hall of Fame quarterback was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) seven months after his death in February 2016. While he had died because of complications related to colon cancer, family members reported that he exhibited classic signs of cognitive decline in his later years. He would repeat himself, get lost in familiar places, be sensitive to simple sounds, and have difficulties navigating intersections while driving.
Boston University conducted a now famous or perhaps infamous study, depending on the perspective, of NFL players finding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in 110 of 111 brains studied. Two researchers decided to crunch some numbers to see what the data really means and submitted their report to Neurology on July 20, 2018. It was made available to the public on November 28, 2018. Dr. Zachary O. Binney of Emory University, Atlanta and Dr. Kathleen E. Bachynski of NYU Langone Health, New York obtained a database of all former NFL Players who died between February 2008 and May 2016, the timeframe of the Boston University study. What they found, using only basic arithmetic is startling.
Over the last month or so I have watched several of the games from the new spring league, the Alliance of American Football. I found many of the games entertaining and if the “logo” bias were removed the games would likely be more appealing to a wider audience.
I am pulling for the league to flourish for several reasons. Number one, I always like pulling for the underdog, second I like anything that gives young players another opportunity to pursue their dreams and lastly watching AAF brings back memories of the three most enjoyable years I had in a different spring pro football league called the USFL.
Tamarick Vanover’s opponents on kickoff and punt coverage teams used to grasp at him in futility as he raced toward the end zone. Now nearly two decades later, Vanover feels that same futility in having anything to show for the days given to the NFL that he will never recoup.
For many NFL players, the biggest challenge they will ever face is not being a pro football player; it will be the challenge of transitioning into the regular workplace. There is a common public perception is that most NFL players play for ten plus years, make hundreds millions of dollars and have all types of career opportunities awaiting them as soon as they remove their pads for the last time. Nothing could be further from the truth. The average NFL player has a career of less than four years and certainly does not collect tens of millions in income within what is in average about 3.7 years. The reason the public is misled by the large contracts they see in the media is because those contracts are portrayed as normal, not as exceptions to the rule. That is not to say NFL players are not very well compensated, they are relative to the general workforce, but in most cases they will receive that money for a very short amount of time and most NFL contracts are not guaranteed. Obviously the ability to successfully transition from a career in the NFL to other careers is dependent on financial stability but there are other factors that greatly affect a players ability to make a successful transition.
The story of Bill Cesare demonstrates how little the NFL and NFLPA do to take care of former players
December 10, 2017
Derek Helling Many former NFL players are challenged to deal with the physical toll of playing football along with all the other struggles that life can present. The story of former NFL defensive back Bill Cesare is one such narrative. As a result of brain trauma suffered …
Excerpt from Hamza Abdullah’s book, “Come Follow Me” “Scoot over!” “What?” “I said scoot over!” “Who are you?” “I’m Hamza Abdullah, who are you?” “I’m Madriga.” “Well Madrigal, why are you so close to me?” “Because there’s no room in here.” “Yes there is. Scoot over.” “I can’t, I’m squished.” “Squished?” “Yeah, someone’s on the …
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live a fairy tale dream come true? And then see it unravel thread by thread? This is Cyndy Feasel’s reality. Cyndy was married to Grant Feasel who was center and long snapper in the NFL from 1984 – 1993, and was a starter for most of his career. I caught up with her recently and we discussed her experiences.
March 5, 2015 Last week at the Combine, the NFLPA presented a request for a rule change to the NFL Competition Committee. As first reported by Mark Maske of the Washington Post, NFLPA President Eric Winston said: The jumping over on the field goal, I think, is just …
By Sheilla Dingus November 7, 2016 Rewind the NFL game clock to 2011; Commissioner Roger Goodell has entered the five-year mark of his tenure and is now beginning to assert his authority as the emperor-like ruler of the league. DeMaurice Smith, ascending to his second year as Executive Director of the NFLPA, is not a …
Mehri’s report “chronicles the reckless spending of the NFLPA, following the money trail from NFLPA leadership to law firms with anti-union agendas on the receiving end.” November 16, 2017
Sheilla Dingus Every year a new NFL/NFLPA controversy makes news, casting a shadow on professional football. Legal showdowns in which the players’ association without fail seems …
There appears to be a black hole in the vicinity of 345 Park Avenue and apparently it has devoured NFL free agent Mike Neal.
As you may recall, about a year ago, as the Denver Broncos were gearing up for a Super Bowl run, Al Jazeera America released a documentary in which Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers of the Green Bay Packers, James Harrison of the Pittsburg Steelers, and NFL free agent Mike Neal, among other athletes, were implicated in the use of performance-enhancing drugs. To make a long story short, the NFL appeared to push it aside in the wake of Super Bowl 50 and then announced an “investigation” into the matter.
September 11, 2017
Sheilla Dingus In late August, Cyrus Mehri was scheduled to interview with Bryant Gumbel of HBO’s Real Sports. The night of the interview, he had dinner with NFLPA President Eric Winston out of respect and as a courtesy; to announce his plan to challenge DeMaurice Smith for …
Intriguing thoughts from 3X Superbowl Champ Matt Chatham by Sheilla Dingus September 27, 2016 The 2016 NFL season is barely four weeks underway and at least 183 players representing almost every team in the NFL are dealing with injuries in varying degrees according to ESPN. Of the 1,696 active players composed of thirty-two …