1) Last week, Vice told the harrowing, heart breaking story of Zack Langston, a 26 year old former high school and college football player who spiraled downward, consumed by paranoia, depression and despair, ultimately taking his own life at the age of 26.
McKee's brain bank found CTE in the brain of Patrick Risha, a former Dartmouth football player who committed suicide at age 32; in the brain of Michael Keck, a high school star who played just one year of college football and died at age 25; in the brain of Joseph Chernach, who played Pop Warner and prep football and committed suicide at age 25; and in the brain of Nathan Stiles, who died at age 17 from a brain injury suffered during a high school football game. In total, McKee says, she has found CTE in the brains of 41 of 50 former college football players her brain bank has examined, and six of 26 former high school players. As part of a proposed settlement of a class action brain trauma lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association, actuaries for the organization estimate that for a period covering college sports careers beginning between 1956 and 2008, approximately 50-300 former athletes per year will be diagnosed with the disease.
2) Somehow, the disgraced Elliot Pellman is still gainfully employed by the NFL in some capacity related to the health of its players. Recall that Dr Pellman, a trained rheumatologist (?!?!?!), was the chairman of the NFL's Mild Traumatic Brain Committee from the 1990's. This Orwellian "committee" functioned as a mouthpiece for NFL propaganda. Specifically, his group authored a series of 6 peer reviewed articles that trivialized the long-term impact of head trauma of players. Here is a conclusion from a retrospective 6 year study his group published in the journal Neurosurgery:
Players who are concussed and return to the same game have fewer
initial signs and symptoms than those removed from play. Return to play does not
involve a significant risk of a second injury either in the same game or during the
season. The current decision-making of NFL team physicians seems appropriate for
return to the game after a concussion, when the player has become asymptomatic and
does not have memory or cognitive problems.
He once personally sent a concussed Wayne Chrebet back onto the field soon after he had been knocked unconscious by a hit, reportedly telling him, “This is very important for your career.” He called the work of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the first doctor to publish data linking football players to CTE, “completely wrong.”
3) The NY Times published an absurd, poorly scrutinized op-ed yesterday by a pediatric neurologist named Steven Rothman entitled "Parents, Stop Obsessing Over Concussions." Dr Rothman is upset because youth participation in football has decreased from 2008-2012 and he blames exaggeration and hysteria over recent findings on CTE for the decline. His piece is a vapid, evidence free zone of conjecture and tough guy posturing. He feels that an "excessive fear" of head trauma is driving many parents to prevent their children from playing "healthy team sports", with football presumably falling into this category. He goes on the recklessly write:
As far as I know, detailed post-mortem brain examinations looking for C.T.E. have been conducted only on military veterans, adult athletes who played for years and others with known neurological problems.
4) Finally I have to comment on the recent controversy over the Odell Beckham Jr hit on Josh Norman in Sunday's Giants/Panthers NFL game. Watch this heinous play: