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George Will Says Football Is Killing Its Players

From George Will, writing in the New York Post:

Football’s growing killer problem

By George F. Will | Sunday August 5, 2012

Are you ready for some football? First, are you ready for some autopsies?

The opening of NFL training camps coincided with the closing of the investigation into the April suicide by gunshot of Ray Easterling, 62, an eight-season NFL safety in the 1970s. The autopsy found moderately severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), progressive damage to the brain associated with repeated blows to the head. CTE was identified as a major cause of Easterling’s depression and dementia.

In February 2011, 11-year NFL safety Dave Duerson, 50, committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest to spare his brain tissue for research, which has found evidence of CTE. Brain tissue of 20-season linebacker Junior Seau, 43 when he killed himself the same way in May, is being studied. The NFL launched a mental-health hotline developed and operated with the assistance of specialists in suicide prevention.

Football is bigger than ever, in several senses. In 1980, only three NFL players weighed 300 or more pounds. In 2011, according to pro-football-reference.com, there were 352, including three 350-pounders. Thirty-one of the NFL’s 32 offensive lines averaged more than 300.

For all players who play five or more years, life expectancy is less than 60; for linemen it is much less.

After 20 years of caring for her husband, Easterling’s widow is one of more than 3,000 plaintiffs — former players, spouses, relatives — in a lawsuit charging that the NFL inadequately acted on knowledge it had, or should’ve had, about hazards such as CTE.

Might Americans someday feel as queasy enjoying it as sensible people now do watching boxing and wondering how the nation was once enamored of a sport the point of which is brain trauma?

Football is entertainment in which the audience is expected to delight in gladiatorial action that a growing portion of the audience knows may cause the players degenerative brain disease. Not even football fans, a tribe not known for savoring nuance, can forever block that fact from their excited brains.

Furthermore, in this age of bubble-wrapped children, when parents put helmets on wee tricycle riders, many children are going to be steered away from youth football, diverting the flow of talent to the benefit of other sports.

In the NFL, especially, football on the field is a three-hour adrenaline-and-testosterone bath. For all its occasional elegance and beauty, it is basically violence for, among other purposes, inflicting intimidating pain. (Seau said his job was “to inflict pain on my opponent and have him quit.”)

The New Orleans Saints’ “bounty” system of cash payments to players who knocked opponents out of games crossed a line distinguishing the essence of the game from the perversion of it. This is, however, an increasingly faint line.

Decades ago, this column lightheartedly called football a mistake because it combines two of the worst features of American life — violence, punctuated by committee meetings, which football calls huddles. Now accumulating evidence about new understandings of the human body — the brain, especially, but not exclusively — compel the conclusion that football is a mistake because the body isn’t built to absorb, and can’t be adequately modified by training or protected by equipment to absorb, the game’s kinetic energies.

After 18 people died playing football in 1905, even President Theodore Roosevelt, who loved war and gore generally, flinched and forced some rules changes. Today, the problem isn’t the rules; it’s the fiction that football can be fixed and still resemble the game fans relish.

George Will basically claims football is killing its players, and it cannot be fixed.

By the way, we would bet studies would show that playing baseball, which Will champions, also shortens life spans. We suspect any extreme physical exertion would.

Baseball players suffer lots of concussions, for instance. But the establishment has declared a War On Football, to add to all their other wars.

And the first casualty of any war is the truth. And any sense of perspective.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, August 6th, 2012. Comments are currently closed.

7 Responses to “George Will Says Football Is Killing Its Players”

  1. Rusty Shackleford says:

    I think they would do better to call football “racist” because of the vast majority of black players.

    I wonder how they feel about it, the players. No?

    Average NFL salary: $1.9 million. (yes, million)

    Average NFL career: 3.5 years. So….if done right, 1.9 x 3.5 = $6.65 million. I have been working for 35 years and haven’t broken the ONE million dollar mark. So….three and a half years @ $1.9 million seems a pretty good haul.


    Oddly, one of the biggest problems with retired NFL players is being broke. Guess you can’t fix stupid after all.

  2. Petronius says:

    George Will : “For all players … life expectancy is less than 60; for linemen it is much less.”

    As a general rule of zoology, bigger individuals have shorter life spans than smaller individuals of the same species.

    Personally I always found basketball to generate more injuries than football, but maybe that’s just me.

  3. GetBackJack says:

    George, they used to play with leather skullcaps

  4. canary says:

    Seriously, the egg shaped bump Obama gave an entire page to along with a minor cut on his arm, showing he is an over the top cry baby may have some merit. He handled the stitches in his lip during the basketball game like big baby too.

    But, as far as those who get real head injuries it is serious. The traumatic head injuries of U.S. soldiers are serious and real. I’m glad President Bush looked into this and isn’t swept under the rug.

    • canary says:

      Yes, my female nourishing side is vulnerable, but at the same time I am mentally practicing and being prepared to put as many holes in the head of crip 67 gangster that I feel threatened by if he breaks into my house. Or jumps me from the bushes.

      Disgusting, just disgusting we have a President whose once closet friend and organizaer was a felon gang banger, and whose church ministered to sex offenders; his lack of letting New Black Panthers who wave bats at people; having violent rappers like Jay Z to white house…well I feel sorry for his daughters being burdened by a sexist male pig as their father. They are children and hopefully will see through their father, and take different directions in life. With their celebrity mother Michelle, it will be difficult for them to form their own values.

    • canary says:

      I also think acute traumatic brain trauma that George Zimmerman underwent as the Trayvon Martin who may have had CTE from football and drugs, adding that Trayvon’s brain injury was fragile at a time the brain is rooting and branching out, should be brought up in court.
      Golly maybe Will should be an expert witness at the trial.

    • canary says:

      sigh…let me clarify myself. I would never shoot someone in the bushes or who came out. But, if it was someone that was a known dangerous threat to me, I would give a warning shot. Unless the bushes were
      smack next to me. I’m saying if such a person entered my house. So, I hope I’m more understood. I wish to shoot no one. Peace.

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