Open Thread: There Is Power in An NFL Union?

I don’t pretend to understand sports, but I will read anything Charles P. Pierce writes, and that includes his Grantland column. And the agitation about how dangerous football is, or ought to be, has leaked beyond the pigskin fansphere enough that I could almost follow the argument here:

[W]hat is even more preposterous is that, in an age in which the NFL’s concern for the well-being of its players increases proportionally with the speed of the mother of all class-action suits that’s headed down the track straight at it, a lot of the cheering for what Tagliabue did is coming from the people who believe that same concern to be demolishing the exquisitely violent culture of the game they love. Make no mistake. A great deal of the criticism aimed at Goodell is directed at him by the why-don’t-they-wear-dresses crowd, an odd conglomeration of talk-radio brawlers and Internet tough guys whose vicarious lives have far too many rats running through them.

What Goodell did to those players was unconscionable, but very typical of the way commissioners act when nobody’s watching. (It’s also the way bosses behave in almost every American workplace these days, and in places where people don’t have Paul Tagliabue to go their bond for them.) The one thing I will not put up with is this notion that the various Saints in question — and I exempt Scott Fujita, who apparently really did get screwed, from all of this — are martyrs to union solidarity and the rights of due process. I admire not a single one of them, and this is why…

The Saints went out of their way to damage their fellow players for what amounts to tip money for most of them, and they did it in a perfect demonstration of the savagery that produced the current moral crisis in the NFL in the first place. And far too many people think Tagliabue’s criticism of Goodell’s authoritarian style justifies this plunge into a moral abyss, because that’s the way things always have been done in the NFL, where men are men and a lot of them don’t remember their names when they’re 50. For this group of fans, the important thing to remember is that Goodell’s power is broken, and not that Brett Favre’s body was. As far as I’m concerned — no matter how glad I am that his rights are now safeguarded — Jonathan Vilma can go pound sand.

The NFL still has so very far to go. It has to disenthrall itself from the fundamental dynamic that drives the devotion of its most fervent fans, who invest in it their frustrations and their truncated manhood, and the rest of the resentment that builds up all week and demands a blood sacrifice for catharsis every Sunday. It has to excise from itself the notion that it is something like a war, and get back to the notion that it is every bit like a game. It has to stop making excuses for its excesses, the way that Paul Tagliabue did in his report. It’s not about “broad organizational misconduct.” It’s about the encouragement of human destruction for private profit, from the owner’s box right down to the locker room….

Those of you with a firmer grasp of the NFL dynamics want to weigh in on the controversy for the rest of us?

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217 replies
  1. 1
    Comrade Jake says:

    I’m all for improving player safety, but realistically the game involves full speed collisions between 220+ lb athletes. Might as well try to improve the safety of professional boxing.

    It shouldn’t be surprising that much of what the league has been trying to do is seen as CYA posturing.

  2. 2
    Raven says:

    “It has to excise from itself the notion that it is something like a war, and get back to the notion that it is every bit like a game.”

    Good luck

  3. 3
    Raven says:

    “The Saints went out of their way to damage their fellow players for what amounts to tip money for most of them, and they did it in a perfect demonstration of the savagery that produced the current moral crisis in the NFL in the first place.”

    The only thing “current” about this is that someone captured it on tape.

  4. 4
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    I think the equipment encourages injury. They think they are invlunerable. Add the chemicals and roid rage adds in.

    Rugby is a violent sport, sans protection, and the injuries are minimal by comparison.

  5. 5
    Comrade Jake says:

    If the NFL was serious about player safety, they would eliminate the Thursday night games.

  6. 6
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    I also remember less injurious times when Broadway Joe’s knees were the target of every defensive player. Grab and twist.

  7. 7
    Raven says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin): I wonder what the injuries are like in Australian Rules?

  8. 8
    Brachiator says:

    It has to excise from itself the notion that it is something like a war, and get back to the notion that it is every bit like a game.

    Sports have always been a form of sublimated warfare. The skills that athletes demonstrated at the ancient Olympics games were based on those needed by a warrior.

    This does not excuse or justify paying bounties to deliberately harm players.

    And it may be that NFL players are too big, too fast, and too strong, and the collisions which are inherently part of the game may be too destructive over the course of a player’s career to be avoided without drastically changing the rules of the game.

    Maybe it’s time to consider banning football altogether. Perhaps boxing, as well.

  9. 9

    @Comrade Jake:

    Yeah but there is a reason that Olympic boxers wear helmets, it is so they are not so punch drunk as amateurs that they cannot go on to make a living in professional boxing, thereby rewarding them for their years of dedication in the amateur ranks. Same goes for football, from what I understand the rules in high school and college level are much more severe than in the NFL because they don’t want to kill the players that will eventually filter into the NFL. The problem with the NFL is that they appear to be allowing more and more brutal behavior because it makes for good TV, not because it advances the cause of the game.

    I am not an NFL fan, never have been, used to enjoy watching Joe Montana when I first moved over here and I will occasionally sit down and watch a Panthers game with my husband. I am a Rugby fan, and considering that Rugby players pretty much play with no protection whatsoever (other than perhaps a cap to avoid ears getting ripped off in the scrum) it would appear that Rugby players have far less long term injuries than NFL players because THE RULES ARE ENFORCED ABSOLUTELY no exceptions, no excuses. It would appear to me that the NFL is becoming more like Gladiators every week, there is a kill or be killed mentality on the field that must be stopped. JMHO.

  10. 10
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Raven:

    I dunno but the Kiwi’s (all Blacks) main guy (forget his name) was still playing at age 63

  11. 11
    Raven says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: It’s always been gladitorial and, short of ending the sport, the “mentality is going nowhere.

  12. 12
    Brachiator says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin):

    Rugby is a violent sport, sans protection, and the injuries are minimal by comparison.

    The differences in style of play may account for some of the variation in rates of injury. Is there an equivalent in rugby to a quarterback dropping back and exposing his knees and upper body to an attack by a rushing defender?

  13. 13
    Raven says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin): The Blind Pigs is the UGA Rugby Club. A very healthy percentage of the guys I know that are over 45 have lower extremity issues. Because I broke my back in 74 I didn’t play but I was a “social member” until I got sober.

  14. 14
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Raven:

    Someone called it ‘crypto-fascist metaphor for Nuclear War’.

  15. 15
    Raven says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin): Whatever, they make on/off switches on televisions.

  16. 16

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin): A boyfriend of mine while I was serving in Hong Kong was injured during a rugby match, but it was because he jumped for the ball with another player and as his foot hit the ground the other player came down on it at the same time. It was not intentional, it was just a split second matter of bad timing. As Stewart was carried off the field on a stretcher he shook the other guys hand. The fact with the NFL is that the injuries are INTENTIONAL, that is the huge difference. Also as I said, you break rules in Rugby your ass is off the field, you break them badly enough and your ass is off the field for life. I cannot remember the last time I saw an NFL player thrown off the field for a helmet to helmet hit or for a late hit I am not even sure other than penalties that that option is available to the refs.

  17. 17
    BD of MN says:

    @Comrade Jake:

    If the NFL was serious about player safety, they would eliminate the Thursday night games.

    or let the teams that had byes the previous week play the Thursday games, accomplishes the same thing without all of the revenue loss, which would be the owner’s complaint…

  18. 18
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Raven:

    I’ve never played football or rugby, and I have lower extremity issues… : )

    What portion of your spine was affected C, T or L?

  19. 19
    Raven says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Why do you watch such a thing? The penalties for what you cite are in place. In addition substantial fines are levied after the fact.

  20. 20
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Raven:

    Oh, I don’t deny anyone their simple pleasures.

  21. 21
    Raven says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin): T-6 compression fracture. Bone graft, harrington rods and a full body cast for 9 months.

  22. 22
    Comrade Jake says:

    While many people believe that the concussion rate among rugby players is less than football, this is actually inaccurate information. A 2008 study conducted on high school, university, club and Rugby Union players in South Africa showed that rugby seems to have some of the same issues as the NFL does when it comes to concussions. The study showed that concussions still occur at a rate similar to football and that many go unrecognized or untreated.

    From: http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ycn-10991566

  23. 23

    @Raven:

    You are of course correct, but there are sin bins in hockey, there are yellow and red cards in soccer, there are foul outs in basketball, other than pathetic five yard penalties what is there in the NFL?

  24. 24
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Raven:

    I just had 3 MRI’s. Them ol’ injuries come back with a vengeance.

  25. 25
    WereBear says:

    I know two lifelong fans who are turning away from the NFL because of the violence. I know a couple of others who watch college ball now, instead.

    That is what it will take; in large numbers.

  26. 26
    Raven says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Any of the fouls you are talking about are 15 yard penalties. Again, egregious head shots can, and are, dealt with by the league in terms of substantial fines and suspensions.

  27. 27
    Raven says:

    @WereBear: The only reason the NFL is more violent is the physical ability and size of the players.

  28. 28
    Tokyokie says:

    Studies have indicated that chronic traumatic encephalopathy may occur as a result of the cumulative effects of sub-concussive brain injuries. If that’s the case, then the NFL’s concerns with concussions may ultimately be useless. (Unfortunately, a definitive diagnosis of CTE can only be made post-mortem from the accumulation of tau protein in brain cells.) If the NFL wanted to cut down on head injuries, it would do away with helmets. That may seem counterintuitive, but helmets do little to protect the brain from being sloshed around inside the skull (which essentially is what happens with a concussion), but they do give players a false sense of invulnerability. Nobody would lead with his head if he wasn’t wearing a helmet.

    The so-called purists would howl at the change, because it would make the game less violent, but so what? I basically can’t watch the NFL any longer for precisely that reason. Players who last more than five years in the league are the exception, not the rule, and few of them retire from play without some sort of chronic injury they must deal with the rest of their lives. Knowing that will be the fate of virtually all of them, I simply don’t derive a lot of enjoyment from the game. And the alternative to making the game safer is watching it get sued out of existence.

    I’ve always found it interesting that the strongest of the professional athletes’ unions is baseball, the sport in which players enjoy the longest careers, suffer the fewest chronic injuries, and for which the least athletic ability is needed to play. (Yes, I know that hitting a pitch from a big-league pitcher is the single most difficult task in major team sports, but it’s a matter of hand-to-eye coordination, not speed or endurance.) And that the NFLPA seems to be more concerned with a few of its members not suffering substantial fines than with its entire membership enjoying longer careers.

  29. 29
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Brachiator:

    The Scrum and open-field tackles are the worst.

  30. 30
    efgoldman says:

    @Brachiator:

    Sports have always been a form of sublimated warfare.

    That’s why they still have shooting and fencing sports in the modern Olympics.

    Maybe it’s time to consider banning football altogether.

    Unlikely at best. Too many corporations make too many billions (yes, billions) of dollars from it. And that includes high school and college games, in certain parts of the country. Hell, Vegas would have to close down in the fall.

  31. 31
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I keep wondering if the players have gotten too big, fast, and strong for the rules as written. The famous Washington Redskins “Hogs” offensive line had an average weight of 273 lbs in 1982. Now there are quarterbacks who weigh around 250, and virtually every lineman is 300 lbs. That’s a lot of mass flying around.

  32. 32
    Raven says:

    @Tokyokie: “Knowing that will be the fate of virtually all of them”

    citation please. That is baloney.

  33. 33
    Brachiator says:

    Apparently there are a fair amount of injuries in youth rugby in the US. It’s hard to find good comparisons with professional rugby or good comparisons of sports worldwide. From on web site article on US youth rugby:

    • The most commonly injured body sites were the head (22 percent), ankle (13 percent), shoulder (13 percent), and knee (11 percent).
    • Rugby injuries tended to be fractures (16 percent), concussions (16 percent), incomplete ligament sprains (16 percent), contusions (nine percent), and incomplete muscle-tendon strains (nine percent).
    • Injuries resulted most frequently following impact with another player (51 percent), impact with the surface or ground (25 percent), after being stepped or fallen on (seven percent), and after rotation around a planted foot (six percent).
    • The majority of all rugby injuries occurred while being tackled (31 percent) or tackling (29 percent).
    • Although almost half of all players returned to play in less than 10 days (46 percent), one in four injured players took longer than three weeks to recover. These more severe injuries commonly involved the knee, shoulder, or clavicle.

    http://www.training-conditioni.....own_1.html

  34. 34
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    When I first watched rugby, I thought this isn’t good. I haven’t looked at the concussion stats but wouldn’t be a bit surprised they compare to football.

  35. 35
    Raven says:

    @efgoldman: And while we are at it lets ban alcohol. What I see here are lots of conversations about how cool and fun booze is. Anybody give a fuck about THAT human toll?

  36. 36
    efgoldman says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    The problem with the NFL is that they appear to be allowing more and more brutal behavior because it makes for good TV…

    Exactly the opposite, actually. Players and tactics that were routine through the 80s are heavily penalized today. Players like Ronnie Lott and Jack Tatum would simply not be allowed to play the way they did, today.

  37. 37
    Raven says:

    @efgoldman: And Butkus.

  38. 38
    WereBear says:

    @Raven: The only reason the NFL is more violent is the physical ability and size of the players.

    I have to disagree. Or we would let five year olds play with a blithe heart.

  39. 39
    Lizzy L says:

    Agree with Tokyokie. I stopped watching professional football (even the 49s, whom I used to love) when the size and speed of the players made it clear that major injuries were going to happen all the time. I no longer watch, and will not. I watch baseball, which despite the steroid scandals, does not remind me of gladiators. Pierce is, as usual, dead on.

  40. 40
    Raven says:

    @WereBear: And you think the difference is what? The biggest, strongest and fastest move up to the bigs,

  41. 41
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Raven: Whenever I watch a college game, it’s like watching the WNBA. It’s pretty much the same game, but the top skill level is significantly worse, and the _mean_ skill level is deeply, dramatically worse.

  42. 42
    Raven says:

    Approximately 2.5 million people die each year from alcohol related causes, the WHO said in its “Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health.”

    “The harmful use of alcohol is especially fatal for younger age groups and alcohol is the world’s leading risk factor for death among males aged 15-59,” the report found.

  43. 43
    efgoldman says:

    @Raven:

    And while we are at it lets ban alcohol.

    Seems to me we tried that once. Before my time, it was…

  44. 44
    efgoldman says:

    @Raven:

    And Butkus.

    Sure, and a whole bunch more. Tatum always comes to mind immediately because of the hit that crippled, and eventually killed, Darryl Stingley, and Lott because he’s considered the all-time HOF safety.

  45. 45
    Raven says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Of course it is. People were talking about how Bama could beat teams like the Chief’s. They would get run out of the stadium. Remember the old All Star game played between the NFL Champs and college all stars? A lot of people here won’t because they stopped playing it because it was so lopsided (dangerous).

  46. 46
    Raven says:

    @efgoldman: As successful as this bullshit will be.

  47. 47
    Raven says:

    @efgoldman: Nobody hit like Butkus.

  48. 48
    Brachiator says:

    @efgoldman:

    RE: Maybe it’s time to consider banning football altogether.

    Unlikely at best. Too many corporations make too many billions (yes, billions) of dollars from it. And that includes high school and college games, in certain parts of the country. Hell, Vegas would have to close down in the fall.

    I agree with you that it would be impossible now, but who knows what will happen in the future, especially if concussions and serious injury continue to be a problem.

    Then again, in doing a quick web search, I was reminded of the risk of serious injury in various sports, with some of the most dangerous being motocross, horse racing, skateboarding, cycling and lacrosse. Hockey, apart from the inevitable loss of teeth, does not appear to be as bad as many people think. Here, the padding helps make a difference. And, of course, the focus is on getting control of the puck, and banging into another player is just one of the ways of accomplishing that goal.

  49. 49
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Raven:

    No one ever died from skunk, though.

  50. 50
  51. 51
    Ronzoni Rigatoni says:

    @Raven: Remember LSU’s “Chinese Bandits?” Goes back a bit (’58?), but the idea was to actually hurt an effective player(s)to knock ’em outa the game. I quit watchin’ football back in those days, altho’ for a brief moment, I did watch the ’59 Browns/Colts pre-Superbowl Championship game. I’ve been around enough blood in my day and have no desire to watch it occur during a “sporting” event.

  52. 52
    Raven says:

    @Ronzoni Rigatoni: Oh yea. Some LSU fans were wearing the cone hats this year. When the camera zoomed in on them you could see cute little christian stuff on them.

    eta And the saying was “they’ll knock your dick in the dirt like a Chinese Bandit>”

  53. 53
    Raven says:

    There was speculation that the cliff shit would be settled before kickoff of the Cowboys-Skins game. Let’s see.

  54. 54
    AA+ Bonds says:

    I think the idea is, football should not be a sport of men being paid for the primary purpose of injuring other men, as that sport is called boxing.

  55. 55
    Raven says:

    @AA+ Bonds: And you are going to measure that how?

  56. 56
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Raven:

    There was speculation that the cliff shit would be settled before kickoff of the Cowboys-Skins game.

    Capitalist-sponsored “media events”. Not that I won’t watch the game but the ruling class has perfected ESPN politics.

  57. 57
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Raven:

    I can honestly say I don’t give a fuck.

  58. 58
    WereBear says:

    Yes, people can get injured in any sport. Take my comments with a bushel of salt; I’m not a fan of sport, nor do I play any.

    But normally, from biathlon to white water rafting, these are accidents. You are expected to fetch up at the end without serious injury.

    How many people would box, or play football, without any money involved? When the point is injury, when the game cannot be played without it, how can we call it a “game”?

  59. 59
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Those guys in the AFL, they’re the ones being exploited, claims Harper’s.

  60. 60
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @WereBear:

    Yes, but many of those sports also carry the risk of an accumulation of small injuries with dreadful results down the line.

  61. 61
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @Raven: Brother, I hate to disagree with you – and God knows I love college football – but the comparison between alcohol and pro football doesn’t really work for me. Is anyone paying young men millions of dollars to competitively drink, brawl, and drive?

    Might as well try to improve the safety of professional boxing.

    We ARE, in a sister sport to football, paying young (of varying shades of brown) young men to beat the fuck out of one another. The only sport – ostensibly – where the whole point of the contest is to render your opponent unable to go on due to injury.

    Look at heavyweight boxers – any of them – in their fifties and tell me that’s what you want for football.

  62. 62
    JWL says:

    First of all, disregard any article that refers to a “blood sacrifice” mentality typical of NFL fans. I’m a lifelong fan, and I demand no such thing.

  63. 63
    WereBear says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: Is anyone paying young men millions of dollars to competitively drink, brawl, and drive?

    Please do not give anyone ideas.

  64. 64
    Comrade Jake says:

    @WereBear: The point of football is really not injury.

  65. 65
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner:

    How many people would box, or play football, without any money involved? When the point is injury, when the game cannot be played without it, how can we call it a “game”?

    And I see that WereBear got there slightly before I did.

  66. 66
    peorgietirebiter says:

    The NFL displayed their player safety priorities with the replacement refs. A bit like the NRA, better player safety equals longer seasons. And yes the NFL union has real power but it seams to me the players are almost as mercinary as the owners. Sell out the future players, ignore those that came before them and compromise only when doing otherwise might take money out of their pockets. Not much to admire on either side community-wise.

  67. 67
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @Comrade Jake: Apparently, that concept never gained traction with the New Orleans Saints organization. And I suspect that the day that shit became public for them, about 29 other NFL outfits were watching and saying “There, but for the grace of God, go us.”

  68. 68
    Comrade Jake says:

    Look, plenty of people were interested in playing football before it became lucrative at the professional level. Without an NFL, we would still have a very active league in the NCAA.

  69. 69
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @WereBear: Well, there’s MMA. When boxing gets too tame.

  70. 70
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner:

    Is anyone paying young men millions of dollars to competitively drink, brawl, and drive?

    In aggregate or individually?

  71. 71
    Brachiator says:

    @WereBear:

    RE: @Raven: The only reason the NFL is more violent is the physical ability and size of the players.

    I have to disagree. Or we would let five year olds play with a blithe heart.

    Some of this is a matter of physics. A big, fast football player produces a considerable amount of energy, and this energy is transferred when players collide. Five year olds cannot deliver the same amount of force. Not enough mass. From a 2006 story on this:

    At 5 ft. 11 in. and 199 pounds, Marcus Trufant is an average-size NFL defensive back (DB). Those stats don’t stand out in a league where more than 500 players weighed 300-plus pounds at the 2006 training camps. But a DB’s mass combined with his speed — on average, 4.56 seconds for the 40-yard dash — can produce up to 1600 pounds of tackling force, according to Timothy Gay, a physics professor at the University of Nebraska and author of The Physics of Football.

    http://www.popularmechanics.co.....cs/4212171

    This is also why, other things being equal, a punch from a heavyweight boxer transfers more force than a punch from a flyweight.

    []

  72. 72
    Comrade Jake says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: I’m not defending the bounties. It’s just a stretch to point to them and say the point of the entire game is injury.

  73. 73
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @Comrade Jake: Yeah. But the “Fuck! I fucking hurt like shit every day when I wake up! I’m hanging this shit up!” threshold for anyone would be a lot lower for anyone not making mad bank, would it not? You’d find a lot of those guys more than happy to scratch their football itches playing flag football in the back yard.

  74. 74
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner:

    “Ronda Rousey armbar”

  75. 75
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Click for a little joy in your life (SFW, is not Ronda Rousey breaking someone’s arm, Gators should make sure no one can hear them weeping)

  76. 76
    Comrade Jake says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: Perhaps. But we had a fairly active NFL for many many years before players started making tons of cash. A lot of those guys had other jobs during the off season.

  77. 77
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @Comrade Jake: Well, there’s two solutions if you want to solve this problem (if you consider it a problem, that is.)

    One, “armor up” the players to further protect them against the grave, life-altering dangers that these big, fast-moving bodies present.

    Or, go back to leather helmets and go to a format where it’s in every player’s best interest to watch that shit.

    But I don’t think the current path the NFL (or even – maybe especially – college football) is headed down now is a sustainable or even civilized path.

  78. 78
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    It has to disenthrall itself from the fundamental dynamic that drives the devotion of its most fervent fans, who invest in it their frustrations and their truncated manhood, and the rest of the resentment that builds up all week and demands a blood sacrifice for catharsis every Sunday.

    I like Pierce, but this is just lazy writing. Not everything is about small wangs/impotence, and it’s not just evil and hateful men who have them. It’s a cliche.

    Yes, the NFL has a problem with serious player injuries. Yes, something needs to change. I have personally never watched an NFL game with someone who actively roots for terrible injuries and sees that as the main point of watching.

  79. 79
    AA+ Bonds says:

    We could always watch soccer instead, hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  80. 80
    Raven says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: ” Is anyone paying young men millions of dollars to competitively drink, brawl, and drive?”

    My point exactly, the miniscule number of people we are talking about in the NFL know exactly what they are getting into and what they are getting out of it. Not so much in the case of the millions that buy the corporate lie of success and fun through booze.

  81. 81
    Comrade Jake says:

    What’s interesting is that Pierce has written one of the main biographies of Tom Brady. You wouldn’t know it from this article.

  82. 82
    Ronzoni Rigatoni says:

    @AA+ Bonds: @AA+ Bonds: Yay! Boxing! I was a big fan in the day when the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports featured boxing on Friday nights (You feel sharp, every time you shave…). Carmen Basilio, Sugar Ray Robinson, Rocky Marciano, Archie Moore, etc., were all heroes of mine, until I saw Mohammed Ali in his retirement years. It is not a sport where the idea is to injure an opponent. We could really live happily without either boxing or the NFL (and I include college football here, too). Both are totally nutz.

  83. 83
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @efgoldman:

    Unlikely at best. Too many corporations make too many billions (yes, billions) of dollars from it. And that includes high school and college games, in certain parts of the country. Hell, Vegas would have to close down in the fall.

    Well, you’re right right up until that last sentence. Not that casinos make nothing off of sports gambling, but it’s chicken feed compared to what they make from slots, blackjack, roulette, etc. The odds at the tables are stacked in favor of the casino (one caveat: if card counting is disallowed). Those are all controlled by the house. Since it’s illegal for gamblers to influence the outcome of sporting events, the only thing close to control the house has in sports gambling is the ability to pit gamblers on one side against gamblers on the other by means of the elastic spread.

  84. 84
  85. 85
    Rosie Outlook says:

    I used to study ninjutsu. In 20 years of various combat arts, my teacher knew of exactly one serious injury (broken arm). If we could practice lethal techniques without any more than a few bruises, is there some reason a ball game can’t be played without crippling players?

  86. 86
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    Dang. Shoulda known that one would be moderated.

  87. 87
  88. 88
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Ronzoni Rigatoni:

    It is not a sport where the idea is to injure an opponent.

    As a fan, I disagree. Honestly, I disagree that bounties in football are against the spirit of the game. Bounties or no, everyone always went for Culpepper’s knees. I sincerely doubt there were fewer than three coaches who told players to do that.

  89. 89
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Spaghetti Lee: I have known many football fans, and none root for injuries. I’m with you there.

    HOWEVER, to the degree that Pierce raises a substantive point, it probably has more to do with the norms within football and football fandom around playing hurt, playing tough, and treating your body _and_ the body of the guy in the other colors as disposable. It’s not out of the question for that to be “cathartic” or a “blood sacrifice” structurally/symbolically speaking.

    Think of how any football fan reacts when their team’s receiver “short arms” a ball, or when the QB starts to get “happy feet.” Those demonstrate insufficient toughness, insufficient zeal to let yourself suffer for the game and the fans. And even the most sensitive souls among us will get indignant when we see players do that. In football, you’re supposed to opt into collisions, not out of them. It’s woven deeply into the sport’s DNA.

  90. 90
    Comrade Jake says:

    @Rosie Outlook: What’s the rate of crippling injury when two ninjas meet in the street? Ostensibly, these techniques are described as “lethal” for a reason.

    You’re talking about practice. Practice.

  91. 91
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Rosie Outlook:

    I used to study ninjutsu

    Do tell. What is the history of this subject?

  92. 92
    Raven says:

    @AA+ Bonds: But you don’t give a fuck.

  93. 93
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Raven:

    I don’t give a fuck whether the injuries are intentional or accidental, no. It makes no difference.

  94. 94
    Mandalay says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    you break rules in Rugby your ass is off the field, you break them badly enough and your ass is off the field for life.

    That is true. Deliberately violent play that is not within the laws is not condoned, even by players on your own team, and players who do it are viewed as a liability. The New Zealand player who did this recently was despised by the nation for his cowardice as much as his violence for this hit:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....detailpage

    But that is not really part of the game, and injuries arising from deliberate violence are very rare.

    And huge players rarely progress in rugby, simply because if you weigh over 300 lbs you wouldn’t have the endurance required to last for 80 minutes.

    I haven’t seen any statistics, but I would think that football is far more dangerous than rugby for severe injuries.

  95. 95
    AA+ Bonds says:

    We will probably never stop funding people who push their bodies to the limit at the risk of their health to entertain us.

  96. 96

    Just saw something on tv that pissed me off. It was an ad for the Wounded Warriors Project. First they are not the best when it comes to putting their funds into helping wounded warriors, they also pay their CEO an outrageous salary as opposed to helping wounded warriors.

    http://www.charitynavigator.or.....rgid=12842

    My DH and I decided rather to donate monthly to the Hope for the Warriors Project, their stats are much better.

    http://www.charitynavigator.or.....rgid=13101

    However my beef is this, these programs should not exist! If a government sends troops to war and they come home broken then it is the government’s fucking job to fix them. PERIOD. It is not up to the general public with donations to fix the troops, the government fucking broke them, it is the government’s job to fix them. Whatever it fucking takes.

  97. 97
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Rosie Outlook: I’ve never done martial arts, but in football there are forceful collisions between most of the 11-per-side 250-pound-plus players on every play, times 120-150 plays per game between both teams. So the rate of injury doesn’t seem outlandish, given the size of the dataset.

  98. 98
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    This!

  99. 99
    Raven says:

    @AA+ Bonds: Ah, got it. Amazingly, I agree. I also think people have not fucking idea what goes on in a locker room. Remember this scene in North Dallas 40?

  100. 100
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    I have personally never watched an NFL game with someone who actively roots for terrible injuries

    You’ve clearly never been in a New Orleans locker room. And I don’t believe for a minute that other, similar environments don’t exist in many, if not most locker rooms other than ones in Louisiana.

  101. 101
    Comrade Jake says:

    @Mandalay: Regarding your last sentence, I posted a link up thread that suggests otherwise.

  102. 102
    Raven says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Read the reviews, it’ll piss you off even more.

  103. 103
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Well, as you point out, that’s why a lot of these “For The Troops” charities are scams, because, what with the VA and all, there already is a ton of public money already invested in caring for injured and wounded veterans.

  104. 104
    Raven says:

    Awright, amid all the hand wringing the Packers seem to be turning the tide to get my Bears in the playoffs!

    Anyone remember how Doug Plank hit?

    “Unlike most defensive formations that take their names from the number of defensive linemen and linebackers on the field (i.e. the 43 defense has 4 linemen and 3 linebackers), the name “46” originally came from the jersey number of Doug Plank, who was a starting safety for the Bears when Ryan developed the defense, and typically played in that formation as a surrogate linebacker.”

  105. 105
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Football is savagery and you have medically-supported pampered savagery or you have brutally uncaring exploitative savagery or you have no savagery. I like watching football and purposely think about this very little.

  106. 106
    AA+ Bonds says:

    The biggest problem I have with football right now is all these Twitter windows.

  107. 107
    Allen says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin): Back in my college days I played club rugby. The rugby team had a clubhouse adjacent to the informal football team clubhouse. On occasion a football player or two would want to join us in rugby. Well, the football coach put and end to this because of the injury rate of the football players, who thought they were so though. Since that time I’ve thought football would be safer would be to get rid of all the padding, which has just become another weapon in the players aresonal.

  108. 108
    Raven says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: You won’t like all of this but he’s spot on about WW:

    “Now, we have TV commercials soliciting money for the Wounded Warrior Project—the charity—and wounded warriors—lower case—the soldiers who are disabled as a result of wounds received in Iraq and Afghanistan. In these commercials, a guy with a black cowboy hat and a pick-up truck commercial voice sings a mournful, plaintive, whiny “Say a prayer for peace.” He is Trace Adkins. He played a little football at Louisiana Tech before he dropped out. His claim to fame, other than singing country songs, seems to be that he worked on an oil rig for some unspecified period of time. Never served in the military.”

  109. 109
    Raven says:

    @Allen: Georgia had a d-lineman from FRANCE who was a rugger, Richard Tardits (sp)

  110. 110
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Of all the goddamned days for Chrome to decide that Twitpic is malware D:

  111. 111
    Warren Terra says:

    I haven’t read the Pierce piece yet, but in the current Harpers there’s a quite shocking article about Arena Football – about how the game is rigged to maximize injurious tackles, and about how the players get absurdly low wages, which are capped at that level, and even the coaches can get a maximum two-year contract and share IIRC $200K among the whole coaching staff as salary.

  112. 112
    WereBear says:

    Look, it doesn’t matter “who is worst” because we aren’t ranking by deliberate injury and banning boxing at the end, are we?

    We are debating the morality of paying people to get hurt for spectator amusement. Boxing is a great example of that. There used to be Irish boxers. I barely remember Italian boxers. Why are there no more Great White Hopes?

    Because prejudice and oppression don’t keep down those ethnic groups as they did in decades past. It’s just like the ethnic groups who become gangsters; it used to be the Irish and the Jews and the Italians. Now it’s different groups. But it’s always ghetto dwellers of some kind, isn’t it?

    When Trump’s kids become pro football players, when the Bushes and Cheneys of the world are proud of their nephews in such an endeavor, you can convince me the players “willingly” trade their bodies for the money.

    When anyone has a better outlet for their ambition, they take it.

  113. 113
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @AA+ Bonds: Well, it started with a historian, Hatsumi Masaaki, who is, if he’s still alive, the leading authority on the ninja. As he got deeper into the subject, he decided that ninjutsu was a valuable historical reservoir of knowledge that needed to be preserved and passed on. He founded the biggest modern school of ninjutsu, Bujinkan. He and his #1 assistant, Manaka Fumio, fell out. Manaka changed things just enough not to run afoul of Japanese trademark law, or the equivalent thereof, and started his own school, Jinenkan, which was the one I was involved with. It paid for itself when I walked into a fast-food place with a wet slippery floor and knew how to fall so as to minimize injury. Learning how to be observant has also been very helpful in this era of mindless drivers who have no idea, and don’t care, what’s going on around them. I recommend ninjutsu to everyone; Jinenkan, at least, had something for everyone. Do not fear ending up in a class full of teenage mutant wanna-be’s. Wanna-be’s come, but don’t last, because those classes and the constant repetition can get pretty boring. Also, neither school does tournaments; in fact, Bujinkan used to kick people out if they entered tournaments (don’t know if they still do).

  114. 114
    The Dangerman says:

    Tied up in Minnesota; are the Vikings really going to blow this thing? Been a weird game; wild plays, bad calls, overturned calls, and AP going for Dickerson.

    If you aren’t watching, you should (interesting game, plus Aikmann has been putting up some HOF bloopers, i.e., “players have small packages”).

  115. 115
    Brachiator says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner:

    RE: I have personally never watched an NFL game with someone who actively roots for terrible injuries

    You’ve clearly never been in a New Orleans locker room. And I don’t believe for a minute that other, similar environments don’t exist in many, if not most locker rooms other than ones in Louisiana.

    What might go on in a locker room is not the same as what fans sitting in the stands expect from a game.

    And yeah, a baseball fan might shout for a pitcher to throw a pitch at a batter’s head in retaliation for something done to one of his favorite players, and a hockey fan might want to see some brawling, but still it is rare and unusual for even rabid fans to come to a game and actively root for terrible injuries.

  116. 116
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @The Dangerman:

    The word I would use is “ugly”…all the seams showing and the refs do not need that right now.

  117. 117
  118. 118
    Raven says:

    @Brachiator: When Marcus Lattimore suffered that awful knee this season the opposing players rallied with his teammates in concern on the field. I felt awful for him but I also thought,damn, two years in a row he gets hurt AFTER killing us!

  119. 119
    debbie says:

    @ efgoldman:

    I haven’t really been able to watch a football game since Stingley.Most of my time is spent flinching and covering my eyes.

  120. 120
    Raven says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner: You know any Blind Pigs?

  121. 121
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @Rosie Outlook: We practiced on a mat and my best moment was when I backed up, caught my heel in a wrinkle in the mat’s plastic cover, and fell flat. My teacher looked down at me and said solemnly, “that was a really excellent fall.”

  122. 122
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Brachiator:

    it is rare and unusual for even rabid fans to come to a game and actively root for terrible injuries.

    There is no space between this and calling for a hard tackle. It is simply a question of whether the injury happens on the field or stretched out over space and time.

  123. 123
    The Dangerman says:

    @AA+ Bonds:

    The word I would use is “ugly”…

    Definitely a little chippy; a lot of flags, etc., but also some great catches (and now one for a TD for Vikes)

  124. 124
    Raven says:

    @AA+ Bonds: The standard line is “no one wants to see anyone injured”. My dyin ass.

  125. 125
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Yeah I was like what!

  126. 126
    Raven says:

    @The Dangerman: God I hate pullin for the Pack.

  127. 127
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Allen:

    Since that time I’ve thought football would be safer would be to get rid of all the padding, which has just become another weapon in the players aresonal.

    That’s probably true about a single piece of equipment: The helmet. You might be able to make a case against shoulder pads, but I can’t recall ever seeing an injury caused because the player applying the hit seemed to feel like Superman because of his shoulder pads. In fact, the most vicious shoulder tacklers I recall are defensive backs, who tend to wear skimpier shoulder pads than linemen and linebackers.

  128. 128
    Raven says:

    @The Dangerman: How they didn’t call offsetting on that chicken fight with the d-back and receiver.

  129. 129
    DemJayhawks says:

    @Rosie Outlook: I’ll try to be polite as possible. Any martial art that isn’t practiced full speed against a resisting opponent is basically dancing. No one you know got hurt because you were dancing.

  130. 130
    Raven says:

    “Call the Midwife Holiday Show” coming up at the bottom of the hour.

  131. 131
    The Dangerman says:

    @Raven:

    How they didn’t call offsetting on that chicken fight with the d-back and receiver.

    Because they are playing in Minnesota.

    Actually, I like the call only on the DB; definitely a foul and the reaction didn’t deserve a flag.

    Looks like AP isn’t going to get Dickerson’s record.

    ETA: …unless there’s OT ;-)

  132. 132
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @Brachiator: What might go on in a locker room is not the same as what fans sitting in the stands expect from a game.

    True. What’s your point? The people in the locker room aren’t paying attention to the fans. After all, as the axiom goes, if you pay too much attention to the fans, don’t be surprised to find yourself sitting up among them next season.

    ETA: Reverse the block-quoted and non-block-quoted text here, and it’ll be right. FYWP.

  133. 133
    Raven says:

    @The Dangerman: I dunno, the receiver threw a punch IMHO.

  134. 134
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Warren Terra:

    in the current Harpers there’s a quite shocking article about Arena Football

    This is a must-read article IMO.

  135. 135
    Comrade Jake says:

    Really it’s just Eagles fans who actively cheer for injury.

  136. 136
    Raven says:

    Now a pick for the pack!

  137. 137
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @Comrade Jake: Probably zero. They’d just say “Good morning” and pass on. How do I know it’s morning? Because you can’t see ninja at night. :D

    Well, let me rephrase my question. I have the misfortune to live in a state where football is the main religion and one can barely avoid it, including play-by-play announcers babbling about how it’s a game of strategy and skill. If’n it’s so strategic and skillful, why don’t fans thereof pay to watch touch football? Why is it only worth paying for if it involves men criping each other?

  138. 138
    The Dangerman says:

    @Raven:

    I dunno, the receiver threw a punch IMHO

    I didn’t see a punch as much as a push, but I coulda missed it (+? this end).

  139. 139
    Raven says:

    @The Dangerman: Don’t matter.

  140. 140
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Raven:

    I love ya, man, but it might be more difficult for me to stomach you actively rooting for my team than it is for you to be rooting for ’em.

  141. 141
    The Dangerman says:

    @Raven:

    Don’t matter.

    Perhaps, but a punch is automatic and the rest is judgement.

    Plus, Minnesota.

  142. 142
    Raven says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): I sympathize. Remember Nitschke was an Illini! And McCaren.

  143. 143
    Oltrol says:

    @Rosie Outlook:

    Is that a N.W.A. thing?

  144. 144
    Raven says:

    Boy there are some serious drunks at this game.

  145. 145
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Rosie Outlook: Um, maybe because one key way players demonstrate skill is their ability to avoid or neutralize the strong, scary guy on the other side? I mean, at a certain point, it’s like you’re asking why tightrope walkers have to be so high in the air, because it isn’t safe, because they could fall. Yeah, exactly, that’s kind of the point, it’s more dangerous and thus a more impressive feat.

  146. 146
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @DemJayhawks: I did. When I was 17, long before I ever heard of ninjutsu, I slipped on a wet spot on a dance floor and broke my ankle.

  147. 147
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Raven:

    And Grabowski. Don’t forget him.

  148. 148
  149. 149
    Raven says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): And, of course, Scott Studwell and Bill Brown for the Vikes.

  150. 150
    cokane says:

    maybe 200 years from now people will look at football the way we look at bullfighting or gladiator combat… but right now it’s not going anywhere. Further, the league has done some things to address injury issues. But some head injuries simply cannot be addressed imo, and will always be part of the game.

  151. 151
    Raven says:

    Fucking Blair Walsh is gonna kill my Bears after killing my Dawgs last year!

  152. 152
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Sounds reasonable to me. It started with a discussion of why football has to be so hazardous for the players, and the answer seems to be, because viewers want it that way. Which is OK by me, but does render a discussion of how to make it less hazardous pointless.

  153. 153
    Raven says:

    Just fuck.

  154. 154
    Suffern ACE says:

    Oh, I really don’t want to have to play the Vikings or the Seahawks in the playoffs.

  155. 155
    Mandalay says:

    @Comrade Jake:

    I posted a link up thread that suggests otherwise.

    Right, but that was not persuasive evidence to me: a Yahoo author concluded that “rugby seems to have some of the same issues as the NFL does when it comes to concussions” based solely on a report from South Africa on concussions reported on 165 rugby players. To draw a conclusion based on such a small set of data is just silly.

    The issue is complex to resolve for many reasons:
    – Football players wear helmets but rugby players do not. Hence the nature of all head injuries is necessarily different.
    – Rugby and football are completely different. They are no more similar than (say) MMA and boxing.
    – Rugby is played far more than football, at all age levels and all skill levels. (Does anyone over 30 play football unless they are a professional nearing the end of their career?)

  156. 156
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Raven:

    Sorry.

    I think this means we get the Vikes at Lambeau nest weekend.

  157. 157
    JPL says:

    ot.. In honor of the repubs.. copied without shame from the washington post
    As Republican lawmakers entered their meeting in the basement of the Capitol, strains of the Beatles hit “Come Together” could be heard coming from the room.

    no comment

    As much as I wanted the Bears to make the playoff, Adrian Peterson is awesome.

  158. 158
    debit says:

    Sorry, Bears.

  159. 159
    geg6 says:

    Apparently no one here ever watches Real Sports on HBO. They’ve been on the brain injury in football beat for at least the past seven years. They have done great work on this, especially on the link between repeated brain injuries in football players and ALS. Football players have an exponentially higher incidence of ALS than the general public. Over the years they have expanded their inquiries to other sports. And they have found the same results in almost every sport in which concussions happen, including soccer, rugby, hockey, and, yes, even the sport of non-athletic athletes, baseball (getting hit by pitches, collisions in the outfield, etc.).

    Few sports are exempt from this. The question is what to do about it. Ban all sports? Can you name a sport where there is no chance of ever having multiple concussions? I can’t. My sports were swimming and diving. Everyone I knew back then who swam or dove, including me, got concussed one time or another, most multiple times. It’s very easy to hit your head on the side of the pool or the diving board accidentally. Should we ban swimming and diving?

  160. 160
    efgoldman says:

    @DemJayhawks:

    No one you know got hurt because you were dancing.

    Not true. Ballet dancers, especially at the highest levels, are subject to all kinds of leg and foot injuries, both short- and long-term. No concussions or long-term brain damage, however.

  161. 161
    Punchy says:

    Fuck you Minnesota.

  162. 162
    Comrade Jake says:

    @Mandalay: I’m not suggesting it’s conclusive by any stretch, just that it’s not as clear cut as you seemed to be implying.

  163. 163
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Rosie Outlook: The vast majority of the people who play the game seem to want it to be _more_ hazardous than the rule-makers are lately inclined to allow. It’s a sport marinated in machismo. It’s going to be damn hard to change that, and the prevailing view in sports media (and, I expect, among current players) is that it’s been getting “soft” at an accelerating rate.

  164. 164
    Rosie Outlook says:

    P.S. any MA school will, or should, teach you how to fall and how to be observant. But for the fun historical trivia–go ninjutsu! My teacher , and the teachers of the Shotokan school that met out front (we were in the back), all recommended that you first decide what you want–sport, exercise, tournaments, whatever–and then look for the best teacher in the area that offers what you want.

    And if you are female, try to partner up with guys who will give you a good hard wallop. You’ll thank those guys should you ever have a run-in with Mr. Stranger Danger. Your mind won’t freeze up when you are hit, because you’ll have practiced being hit.

  165. 165
    Violet says:

    @geg6:

    It’s very easy to hit your head on the side of the pool or the diving board accidentally. Should we ban swimming and diving?

    No because the sports of swimming and diving themselves do not involve actions that cause concussions. Hitting your head on the side of the pool or diving board is an accident. Football is either played or officiated in such a way that concussive activities and moves are common and/or part of the game.

  166. 166
    muddy says:

    A story just came on that Hilary Clinton is hospitalized for a blood clot and being treated with anticoagulant drugs, they found it in the follow-up exam from the concussion.

  167. 167
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @efgoldman: Any one who’s ever done any kind of dance knows that if you want to find a good foot doctor, ask the ballet dancers.

  168. 168
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @muddy: And conservatives will announce that she is faking it in 5…4…3…2…1…

  169. 169
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Hillary Clinton in hospital.

  170. 170
    TooManyJens says:

    @muddy: The conspiracy theorists will now claim that the hospital is in on it, of course. It’s all a plot to cover up Benghazi argle bargle!

  171. 171
    West of the Rockies (formerly Frank W.) says:

    @Punchy: I’m sort of glad that Peterson did not break the sigle-season rushing record held by Eric Dickerson. As a Rams fan (yeah, I know, pretty lean times lately), I’ve sort of been hoping the organization would hold onto the record. Indeed, it was Dickerson’s great O-line that helped him reach that mark — in other words, it was a team effort (though clearly Dickerson was a stellar back).

  172. 172
    handy says:

    I’ve never seen so many Bears fans pissed about a Green Bay lose since ever.

  173. 173
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @TooManyJens: Well, I think the argle is ridiculous tinfoil hat stuff, but they do make a persuasive case on the bargle…

  174. 174
    Pinkamena Panic says:

    You know what’d really make this whole thread a nightmare? If this was all a big setup to try and get people who have been shitting on the “we can’t stop gun violence so why bother” trolls to use a form of that argument in their defense of whatever sport they happen to be defending.

    Just sayin’.

  175. 175
    JPL says:

    @Rosie Outlook: Conservatives will say she is not healthy enough to be president .. Hopefully she is okay..

  176. 176
    Violet says:

    @muddy: God, that sucks. That happened to a relative of mine who fell. She ended up having to have surgery for it. I hope Hillary is okay.

  177. 177
    muddy says:

    @TooManyJens: Yes, those conspiracies that naturally spring up in a large hospital, with thousands of potential witnesses.

    What about an opposite conspiracy theory, maybe the head wound was really from an assassination attempt, and they are trying to cover up this head wound! An operation to fix a “blood clot” would be the cover story. I could speculate all night, but I’m tired from clearing snow.

  178. 178
    JPL says:

    @Violet: according to nbc
    “Her doctors will continue to assess her condition, including other issues associated with her concussion,” he said. “They will determine if any further action is required.”

  179. 179
    mai naem says:

    Joe Biden had an aneurysm. Dick Cheney had I don’t know how many heart attacks and was on a heart transplant list pretty quick after Dumbya’s second term was over. Dumbya was a dry drunk. Don’t even go there with Hilary not being healthy enough. That said, I hope Hilary is okay. I’m sure Bill and Chelsea are making sure she’s getting top notch care.

  180. 180
    Mandalay says:

    @geg6:

    especially on the link between repeated brain injuries in football players and ALS. Football players have an exponentially higher incidence of ALS than the general public.

    The medical community does not seem wholly persuaded yet. By coincidence I just posted that we should be wary of concluding anything form small sets of data, and that seems to apply to ALS in footballers as well:
    http://alsn.mda.org/news/als-r.....fl-players
    http://alsn.mda.org/news/als-e.....y-findings

    That said, there are other causal relationships for motor diseases which seem beyond dispute now (e.g. boxing and Parkinson’s Disease), so you may be onto something.

  181. 181
    Raven says:

    @mai naem: She has insurance.

  182. 182
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    No new thread for Dallas-Washington?! C’mon, it’s like the first playoff game. Win and in, lose and go home. A rare high-impact end to the regular season.

  183. 183
    Heliopause says:

    Those of you with a firmer grasp of the NFL dynamics want to weigh in on the controversy for the rest of us?

    I’ve felt for decades that the players’ union was focusing too much on money and free agency and not nearly enough on health and safety. Money and personal agency appeal to young, healthy people, health and safety to older people.

    The NFLPA is weak compared to the baseball union but strong compared to American unions in general. Ultimately it’s up to them to advocate for their members’ best interests because it’s obviously insane to expect filthy-rich oligarchs to do so.

  184. 184
    JPL says:

    John Bolton will issue an apology on Fox News anytime now…
    yeah right..

  185. 185
    Mandalay says:

    @Rosie Outlook:

    And conservatives will announce that she is faking it in 5…4…3…2…1…

    Closely followed by our Village punditocracy speculating on whether this has effectively ended her run for the presidency in 2016.

  186. 186
    Fluke bucket says:

    @AA+ Bonds: BENGHAZI ! !

  187. 187
    Raven says:

    @Steeplejack (phone): It’s not going to be rare anymore:

    Now that the NFL exclusively schedules division games in Week 17, the trend has become a playoff play-in game between two teams in the same division who are vying for the crown.

    Last year, it was Cowboys-Giants for the NFC East. Winner advances, loser goes home. The year before, Rams-Seahawks in the same scenario for the NFC West title.

    This year, the best scenario would be a win-and-in, lose-and-leave game between the Cowboys and Redskins for the NFC East title. Unfortunately, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently threw water on the possibility of a prime-time flex.

  188. 188
    The Sailor says:

    @Raven: citation needed

    A Pioneer Press survey of 100 retired NFL players found that 82 percent are experiencing ailments they believe are linked to their pro football careers.
    […]
    The newspaper survey found that 56 percent of the players left professional football because of injuries they felt had compromised their playing abilities.

    http://www.profootballresearch.....03-458.pdf

  189. 189
    Elizabelle says:

    New thread?

    Settling in for Washington Redskins v. Dallas Cowboys after 2 bracing games of Yahtzee with the sister and the nephew.

    After a Ledo’s pizza feast. Sunday has been good to us.

  190. 190
    Punchy says:

    CAN WE PLEAZ GHET PHRESH THRED FOR SKINZ/BOYUZ GAYM?

  191. 191
    WaterGirl says:

    Dave Zirin at The Nation has written about this several times.

    If you’ve never heard of him, he has a really great blog. His tagline is “where sports and politics collide”.

  192. 192
    Raven says:

    @The Sailor:

    82 percent are experiencing ailments they believe are linked to their pro football careers.

    56 percent of the players left professional football because of injuries

    duh twice

  193. 193
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    All best to Secretary Clinton, and good wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

    According to FB, apparently John Bolton said something hateful about her. Don’t know what he said and don’t especially want to know. But I’ll take a quick moment to say Fuck John Bolton with Every Rusty Farm and Kitchen Implement Kicking Around in the Rat-Infested Shed.

  194. 194
    pluege says:

    there is no where to go with making football a softer, gentler sport – its not what it is. Football is every bit the modern day gladiator event where the plebes get to salivate over the destruction of others – that is football’s core; its attraction; that is its nature. The trappings of skill and strategy are just a side show – for most fans its all about The Hit! Take away The Hit and the plebes go elsewhere to sate their bloodlust.

  195. 195
    Raven says:

    I played high school football, city league basketball and softball, ran and now I swim. I’ve got all kinds of “ailments”.

  196. 196
    Raven says:

    @pluege: While all the “upperclassmen” play backgammon. Give us another thread, please.

  197. 197
    burnspbesq says:

    @cokane:

    I don’t think it will take 200 years. When there is a solid body of empirical evidence about chronic brain trauma in football, moms will sort it out. If no third-graders are entering the player-development pipeline, it takes about 15 years (20 at the outside) for the NFL to die off.

  198. 198
    Yutsano says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Bolton is an old bitter out of power fuckstain. He’s worth about as much as the crud on the bottom of my shoe. No wait, the crud is more valuable. Fuck. Him.

  199. 199
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @pluege: I really don’t think that’s it, unless you’re also counting the ability to withstand “The Hit” as part of the appeal of The Hit. If your view were correct, no one would give two shits about catches, runs, throws, or really anything that happened on offense — when your side had the ball the stadium would just go quiet, with fans just be twiddling their thumbs waiting for the other guys to have the ball so that their guys could pummel them and there would be something to cheer about again. And that’s just not at all what happens.

  200. 200
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Pinkamena Panic:

    That’s a bullshit comparison.

    The primary function of guns, since the first cannon was created, is to kill other humans. That people can also use them to hunt or shoot targets is a happy bonus (for some).

    Football- American football- was invented by the sons of Boston Brahmins as an athletic pursuit, as a game in which they could compete. As types of preventable serious injuries have trended upward in the sport, the sport has self-corrected with rules regarding equipment and play on the field- when was the last time you saw the Flying Wedge? A player without shoulder pads, a mouthpiece or a helmet?

    The proper analog to football and its inherent dangers, I think, is the automobile. We accept the deaths (the rates of which are much higher than those caused in football) and injuries caused by those contraptions, but we do our damnedest to minimize those deaths and injuries as we move forward.

  201. 201
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Raven: Violence is, how you say, tres jejune, n’est-ce pas?

  202. 202
    Brachiator says:

    @Evolving Deep Southerner:

    True. What’s your point? The people in the locker room aren’t paying attention to the fans. After all, as the axiom goes, if you pay too much attention to the fans, don’t be surprised to find yourself sitting up among them next season.

    The original poster specifically mentioned fans in the stands not coming to games to see terrible injuries. You immediately switched it to the locker room.

    So, the question is what is your point?

  203. 203
    Mandalay says:

    @burnspbesq:

    When there is a solid body of empirical evidence about chronic brain trauma in football, moms will sort it out.

    It’s an appealing notion, but moms have achieved zilch to stop their kids getting killed by guns, even though the supporting data is far more persuasive.

    Why would football be different?

  204. 204
    Pinkamena Panic says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): Bullshit comparison, yes. And that’s why I brought it up so a troll couldn’t.

  205. 205
    dollared says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): Wow. Ummmm, eliminate football tomorrow, and would we all be able to get to work? We accept the automobile for the fact that it is currently essential. Football?

    But I have to tell you, from personal experience: at 60, Max McGee was an articulate, amiable drunk who could flirt fairly cleverly with the 20 year old girls who wandered within grabbing distance. His brain was just fine.

  206. 206
    Tripod says:

    Major League Soccer has had some high profile incidents, enough to get them to put out an offical line. These tend to be inadvertent head-to-head or knee-to-head contact. No one in the sport (here or abroad) seems interested in delving too deeply into the long term, cumulative neurological effect of headers.

  207. 207
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @dollared:

    For decades now, there have been environmentalists telling all of us just how the automobile is killing the planet, yet, hey, people gotta drive to work. And I’ve yet to read or hear outrage about the amount of damage done by cargo ships to the planet, at least not nearly in the same proportion of outrage-to-amount-of-damage in football. Not even close.

    Yet, proportionally, I’ve seen the NFL say and do much more to correct their problems. Go figure. Hell, the NFL could call it quits tomorrow, and tomorrow night someone will get concussed in a basketball game, and the same outraged voices will be outraged about basketball, but they won’t think twice about the fact that their Priuses still run on petrochemicals- hell, they’re MADE out of petrochemicals- or that their bikes and cameras came to them via those cargo ships.

    But, yeah, those things are essential…to something or another. Fill in the excuse.

  208. 208
    The Sailor says:

    @Raven:
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released a study that showed that a disproportionate number of men who played in the N.F.L. at least five seasons from 1959 to 1988 developed Alzheimer’s disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Players in “speed” positions, who are more prone to high-speed collisions, were three times more likely to have died as a result of a neurodegenerative disease, the study showed.
    ++++++++++++++
    But in September 2009, a study commissioned by the N.F.L. reported that Alzheimer’s disease or similar memory-related diseases appear to have been diagnosed in the league’s former players vastly more often than in the national population — including a rate of 19 times the normal rate for men ages 30 through 49. The study was conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

    http://topics.nytimes.com/top/.....index.html
    +++++++++++++++
    So you asked for citations, why would you be critical when someone provides them?

  209. 209
    Joel says:

    @Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin): This sounds right to me. If the league dropped all the protection, the impacts would dramatically decrease in severity. Pain is an amazing deterrent.

  210. 210
    geg6 says:

    @Violet:

    Bullshit. The same could be said for hockey or basketball or soccer or rugby, all sports that have the same brain injury problems as football. Or even baseball. Real Sports had a story a couple of years ago about some of the same researchers looking into the football/ALS link that looked into Lou Gehrig’s medical history as a baseball player that showed he probaly had a dozen or so concussions over his career, possibly causing, accelerating or aggravating his ALS. So let’s outlaw baseball, too.

    And you obviously don’t know much about football. The point isn’t to injure people any more than it is in most other sports. In fact, football has a better record of trying to protect their players than most other sports.

  211. 211
    redshirt says:

    While the NFL right now is at its peak, trouble looms for the future, in the form of… Moms.

    Given the realities of concussions, Moms will be thinking real hard about their babies playing football, rather than soccer or something else. Kids are obviously the future of football, so this represents a real threat to the future of the sport.

    As has been said, there’s no good way to prevent concussions in football with the frequency of the collisions. Thus, Flag Football will ultimately be the answer.

    I’ll watch it.

  212. 212
    WereBear says:

    @geg6: I happen to work in an environment with lots of former athletes; some of them professionals, some of them champions. My point is that they played at a high level for a long time. Yet none of them have the level of distress and aggravated injuries that retired football players are reported to deal with.

    There’s no question that competitive sports can place a lot of pressure on vulnerable young people. There’s girls’ gymnastics and the complete meltdown of Lance Armstrong, just to name two rather recent scandals.

    It was decided that girls shouldn’t have to starve themselves into delaying puberty to compete in gymnastics. It was decided that making cyclists feel they had to take performance enhancing drugs to compete was wrong.

    Maybe the scores are not so high and the times not so low, any more. But people feel a lot better about enjoying them, now.

    I just think that same line of thought could be useful to football. But if money corrupts, perhaps incredible amounts of money corrupts incredibly.

  213. 213
    Jamey says:

    I like Pierce, but this is just lazy writing.

    Grantland in a nutshell.

  214. 214
    Brendan in NC says:

    @Raven: Only if the player being hit is a star or plays for the Patriots (sorry Anne); and the hitter plays for a not so good team.

    Reverse the situation (best player on a bad team getting hit by a player on a good team), and nothing gets done.

    See Fred Jackson’s concussion late in game 2 of the Bills/Patriots this season.

  215. 215
    Brendan in NC says:

    @Brachiator:
    RE: Hockey
    The NHL got on the concussion bandwagon before the NFL, after Sidney Crosby sustained 2 concussions in 2 months (i think) and eventually didn’t play for the majority of a season.

    However, the penalties are just as bad as the NFL. As is their enforcement. See Flyers/Penguins playoff series from 2011 – James Neal targeted Sean Coutourier’s head; and later pulled Scott Hartnall’s hair in a fight. He got suspended 1 game for the hair pull, and nothing at all for the head shot – saids he was bracing himself for the collision.

  216. 216
    sb says:

    @geg6:

    Bullshit. The same could be said for hockey or basketball or soccer or rugby, all sports that have the same brain injury problems as football.

    In both severity and number, football is by far the most dangerous sport. I mean, c’mon. I might very well be true that the other sports have the “same” injuries but, again, not as numerous or as severe as football.

    And you obviously don’t know much about football. The point isn’t to injure people any more than it is in most other sports. In fact, football has a better record of trying to protect their players than most other sports.

    Well, I know a little about the game having followed it for four decades and playing it in high school and at a very, very small college so can I play? An important aspect of the game is to physically dominate the other team–if you can–through ultra-physical contact, preferably the kind of contact that makes an opponent think twice before going over the middle, scrambling or running up the middle. You want to quibble with the wording of “trying to injure”, fine. But laying a hit on another player is what we were encouraged to do and that, geg6, is a big reason why there are far more injuries in football, both major and minor, than the other sports.

  217. 217
    sb says:

    @Jamey: So we’ve gone from one sentence leading to the suggestion that Pierce is engaging in lazy writing to Grantland as a whole is the prime example of lazy writing.

    Tough crowd, I tell you. :)

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