Tag Archives: concussions

“The Tragic Loss of Raider Derrick Jensen & the Mounting List of Players ALS & CTE are Claiming”

Derrick_Jensen2

The nightmare continues.

When ESPN’s article on the money grab which is the brain injury lawsuit against the NFL came out recently, it showed just how little is being done for former NFL players struggling with head injuries. So far they have not seen one dime of the settlement money. With lawyers charging outrageous fees, and medical corporations and doctors practically targeting them, you wonder how much money the players will really see. The extreme greed is hard to watch.  The sad part is, more players are being diagnosed with ALS and CTE and many feel this is just the tip of the iceberg.

http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/19029607/billion-dollar-nfl-concussion-settlement-turns-nasty-lawyers-others-vie-pieces-payouts-players

Studies now show NFL players are 4-5 times more likely to get ALS than the regular public. The famous Italian soccer study showed Italian soccer players were 6 times more likely to get it. Severe forms of CTE are now feared to be a cause of ALS.  Former woman’s US soccer star Brandi Chastain has agreed to donate her brain to CTE studies. The first MMA fighter has now been thought to have CTE. Even BMX legend Dave Mirra was shown to have CTE after his suicide at the age of 41.

Now present and former NHL players are coming out to talk about it.   If you thought the NFL was obtuse about head injuries, the NHL makes them look like Mother Theresa. They sued to block their emails dating back to as much as 10 years ago trying to block studies on the effects of concussions partly because they didn’t want to limit fighting.

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl-doctor-slams-situational-ethics-on-concussions-in-unsealed-lawsuit-documents-1.708729

Last month the NFL world was shocked and dismayed to hear that former 49er great Dwight Clark was diagnosed with ALS. Alabama great Kevin Turner; an 8 year veteran of the NFL; died last year at 46 from ALS. He was one of the key witnesses in the CTE trials v.s. the NFL. His brain was later studied and he was found to have severe CTE damage. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2010.

Raiders stud FB Steve Smith has been battling ALS for 15 years. And sadly the Raiders and Seattle families lost a valuable person last week in Derrick Jensen.

I still remember Cowboys owner Jerry Jones last March saying he personally still didn’t think there was a link to head injuries, concussions and CTE.   That’s what players are up against.

Mark Davis & Reggie McKenzie honoring Derrick Jensen
Mark Davis & Reggie McKenzie honor former Raider Derrick Jensen before Seattle Seahawks game

Derrick Jensen Loses His Battle With ALS:

http://www.raiders.com/news/article-1/Raiders-Mourn-the-Passing-of-Derrick-Jensen/ca64a3e6-8b9d-4ceb-8815-1a93ad9ba9d0

Raiders super sub and special teams captain Derrick Jensen lost his battle with ALS last week after being diagnosed in 2012. Jensen was 60. He was a key member of the Raiders and won 2 Super Bowls. In the first 5 minutes of Super Bowl XVIII, Derrick blocked a Washington punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown that set the tone for a huge win against a team that most in the media at that time was calling the best ever.   I remember pretty much going insane as a kid when it happened.

derrick jensen 2
Davis & Derrick Jensen

Derrick was a solid and valuable player, but he also was a long time respected scout for the Seattle Seahawks with over 2 decades of amazing evaluations.   He was beloved for his kindness and respect towards people. He was eclectic and fun and went out of his way to just say hi to Seattle staffers.   You would be hard pressed to find a more loved guy. His death was a great loss to the NFL. The Seahawks have renamed their draft room in his honor. Sadly Derrick lost his wife Amanda in 2009 in a car accident and now his 19 y/o son Davis (in honor of Al? I don’t know) must go on without his parents.

http://www.seahawks.com/news/2017/04/07/seahawks-remember-longtime-scout-derrick-jensen

A 5-Star Must Read Book on Players & Their Families Fighting CTE:

Many are reading this book in one sitting.  If you want to get a raw, in depth look at what players & families go through with CTE, read Cyndy Feasel’s book “After the Cheering Stops”. Her late husband Grant Feasel; a former Seattle Seahawk OL; was struck by CTE and this story is an amazing one. I can’t recommend this book enough. Grant sadly, was far from being the only one.  RIP Grant.

http://afterthecheeringstops.com/

NFL Royalty Now Struggling:

When Ken Stabler’s partner Kim Ross-Bush came out talking about the CTE symptoms that Ken was suffering from, it seemed that more people started to listen.   Sadly, the list of players struggling continues to grow.

Cowboys great Tony Dorsett has done several national interviews talking about his battle with depression, mood swings and extreme memory loss.  Ex-Raider/Eagle/49er RB Charlie Garner says he can’t go anywhere without someone coming with him because he forgets where his car is & has trouble in conversations.

NFL Royalty and super man Gale Sayers barely talks anymore.  One of the most articulate and smart people in NFL history, can no longer remember some people or even carry on simple conversations.

http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/9931754/former-nfl-stars-tony-dorsett-leonard-marshall-joe-delameilleure-show-indicators-cte-resulting-football-concussions

Detroit Lion legend Mel Farr died in 2015 and it was shown he had severe CTE which he suspected.  At one time Mel had the largest African American owned company in the U.S.

Frank Wycheck, Mike Adamle, and so many others are now saying they are afraid of what lies ahead with their symptoms.  Raider great George Atkinson says it’s hitting him as well and Phil Villapiano says it’s the scary thing everyone is talking about.  Their memories fading, while their thoughts get lost in a fog.

http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/18585718/former-detroit-lions-rb-mel-farr-had-stage-3-cte-died-2015

These aren’t dumb football players folks. These are smart, articulate, and successful men who contributed great things to the NFL and they are now losing their faculties. AND STILL, no support from the NFL.

The NFL Needs a Wake Up Call:

http://www.myajc.com/sports/football/fate-dwight-clark-gale-sayers-reaffirm-nfl-not-doing-enough/oh3s4BqtAVhI6nye7XQbEN/

People have changed in our country and some leave their brains at the door.  If some belong to a political party, love a football team or belong to an organization, they will blindly defend it no matter what.  Right and wrong no longer matters to them.  It’s like they take it personally if someone questions what they are a part of.  It’s pathetic and insecure to be honest.  You can’t fix problems unless you admit them.

The NFL see’s that same phenomena.  “Don’t be a hater, don’t be negative; you are a troll”. It’s like a bunch of cult members are walking around saying question nothing. To admit a terrible mistake by something they belong to or like is out of the question.

“I’m loyal from the crib to the grave. Win lose or tie, loyal til I die”. These are sayings that are seen often in fan groups of all NFL teams.   Unfortunately the league, the teams, and the owners don’t feel the same. They will move to another city without a worry, buy off politicians and not support the players that made them rich while not thinking twice about it. Their goal is one thing; make more money.  Some NFL fans are the abused spouses of the sporting world and they don’t even know it; enabling the NFL to the end blindly defending anything they do, or fail to do.

Cheerleaders had to sue to get minimum wage and the overwhelming support in social media was for the NFL. The names these women were called by some male fans on social media shouldn’t be repeated. The Ref’s were destroyed by fans for wanting to be full time employees with full time training and salaries. This would greatly improve the calls in games and improve the integrity of the game. Sadly the “cash strapped” NFL said they couldn’t afford to pay them full time. Most fans backed the NFL and told refs to get other jobs if you don’t like it.

The treatment of the retired players is worse. Our society has lost it’s ability to be compassionate, especially to elderly people. If I wrote a story about Derek Carr giving someone a ride, I’d get thousands of readers an hour. Talk about the sad demise of a great player from the past and the numbers drop significantly with a yawn. It’s too sad and no one wants to bother.

What Can We Do:

It will take maturity and confidence from fans to create change. First, we can listen. We can listen to the players and their families.   We can support them by complaining to the league and owners in social media or in actually writing letters that we need to respect them and their needs. A little bit of effort goes a long way. The NFL was going to do nothing in the Ray Rice case until fans were outraged when TMZ proved them to be liars.

The NBA had a known racist, Donald Sterling as an owner.  They knew and supported him for years through his racist actions and rants.  They defended him until a video came out that was seen by fans.  The outrage was epic and public opinion forced the NBA to get rid of him.  Professional leagues morals are based on money & public opinion.

We can also support pages, stories and the players themselves.   Instead of putting up that 1000th team meme or 5000th cat photo on Facebook, teach yourself and/or your kids about the history of the teams and the great players from the past. These players sacrificed a great deal to play football and many were extremely loyal to the cities and fans.  Some became integral parts of the community with many living and dying in the area they played in. We need to stop acting like 18 y/o gang members and respect all players from all teams. You can hate a team or player in fun but remember we are all in this game called life, and that is much more important than any football rivalry or team loyalty.

What is happening to retired players is unacceptable and we need to be the answer. You can still love football and the players in it while not condoning some of the actions of the NFL and the owners. The NFL’s actions show it is loyal to one thing; money. It is their god. Well it’s not mine. They are not loyal to players, fans, cheerleaders, cities and even the refs.   I’m not letting ANY corporation or person use me or disrespect me, and you shouldn’t either. Look at their actions, and not the words. Love the game, and the teams and players but be respectful of what’s going on.  And if we are as loyal and respectful to the game as we say, let’s make a difference and show the NFL that the sport is about the people in it, and not the profit from it.

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The Roger Goodell, Ray Rice & NFL Mess and How to Fix It:

Roger Goodell NFL Ray Rice

In the Mount Rushmore of evil sports entities, you will find 4 sports organizations; FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), the IOC (International Olympic Committee), the college sports titan NCAA, and the NFL.

For years the NFL has enjoyed cult status, always overcoming controversy due to fans loyalty to the sport.  Apple had nothing on the NFL.  Let’s look at just the short term history of the NFL and why Roger Goodell and the NFL needs to be taken to task by sponsors and fans.

The NFL is a Non-Profit; no Taxes.

I listened to Ann Killion during an interview on the radio the other day.  Ann is a local sports writer for the San Francisco Chronicle.  I like Ann a lot and I think she’s really good.  She said something though that bothered me.  She sheepishly said the NFL doesn’t pay taxes or they are exempt from it or something.  To this day it still blows me a away how many fans and sports writers still don’t know the status of the NFL.

Isn’t that important to know so you can understand some peoples outrage?  Yes, the NFL is a non-profit organization that is exempt from taxes.  On average they make 9-14 billion dollars a year.  They do not have to talk about their profits because they are not a public company and the only way most find out about their profits is that the Green Bay Packers are a public company.  People take the profits that are given to the Packers and times it by 32 to get the total.

The NFL ONLY reacts to Public Outcry & Loss of Corporate Sponsorship:

The NBA did the same thing with the Los Angeles Clippers ownership saga.  It didn’t matter that Donald Sterling had decades of racial remarks and slurs.  It didn’t matter that he was sued by the Department of Justice for housing discrimination and then had to pay the biggest housing discrimination fine in U.S. history.  What did him in?  It was a gold digging groupie who caught him on a cell phone during a jealous rant.

It would be funny to be honest if it wasn’t such a serious topic.  To watch the NFL now kissing the butt of the public as well as their sponsors makes a person laugh, or shake their head.  Now players that the NFL never dealt with like Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers (who severely beat his ex while putting a rifle to her head threatening to kill her) are now being suspended.

TMZ of all people made people realize that the NFL lied about not having the video and now Roger Goodell says they may have had it, but he didn’t see it.

That would be fine but people should also remember Roger Goodell’s words when he suspended Saints coach Sean Payton.  The Saints defense had put bounties out on opposing players.  Roger Goodell said that even though coach Payton didn’t know about the bounties, he was supposed to be in charge and should know everything that was going on in the organization.  He cited the year long suspension was a lack of organizational control.  It’s funny how Roger Goodell now wants a pass on his lack of control.  The Ray Rice case was the biggest story in the NFL in a long time so for him to say he did not see the video is shady at best.

The NFL’s treatment of Fan’s, Referee’s, Cheerleaders:

I always love to see the prices of the superbowl.  Parking this year was $150 per car!!!  Thanks NFL!!  That is comical.  What’s worse is that fans pay it just to be at the event.  If Roger Goodell told me that I was going to have to pay $150 to park, I’d slap him in the back of the head and say “hell to the no!”.  Many families have been out priced and can no longer afford to go to games.  It’s pure greed by the NFL.

Unfortunately though, some fan’s treatment of players, cheerleaders and referee’s mimic the NFL’s to be honest.  When a player is underpaid and wants to renegotiate a contract, fans lose their minds saying, “the player signed it so they need to honor it”.  Well that would be great, but 90% of contracts in the NFL are NOT honored by the owners or the teams!  When a player is cut or made to renegotiate their contracts or be let go, I’ve never once heard a fan say, “they signed the contract, and the owners now need to honor it!”.  Fans will turn on millionaires, but give passes to billionaires.

The NFL’s treatment of cheerleaders is ridiculous.  Teams make an average of 1 to 1.5 million a year off of the efforts of the cheerleaders.  Most NFL cheerleaders do not make minimum wage!  Many fans act like NFL cheerleaders are just airhead groupies but surprisingly many are much smarter than that.  Many are college students, looking for advanced degrees, and some are even mom’s!  Some are becoming doctors and one Eagles cheerleader is an officer in the National Guard.  They are made to go to fundraisers and PR events for free, and some get paid only when the season ends.  Many say they love going to children’s hospitals and do outreaches but the lack of pay makes it difficult.  The courts agreed.  The Oakland Raiders cheerleaders just won a 1.5 million dollar lawsuit due to their lack of pay and poor treatment.

The NFL and the owners said during the last referee’s strike that they could not afford to pay the ref’s full time.  Many of the NFL ref’s have secondary jobs such as selling insurance.  You can’t afford to pay them a six figure salary and train them year round so that there won’t be so many bad calls every year?  Even when the game is hurt by not having full time ref’s, the integrity of the game takes a back seat to NFL profits.

How the NFL has Handled Their Past Controversies:

The NFL congressional hearings on the investigation of how the NFL handled concussions is what changed my mind about the NFL.  I actually watched them so during that time no, I wasn’t a fun date.

Study after study was brought to the NFL from highly respected researchers showing the damage that prolonged concussions can have on the brain.  All the NFL did was say, “we don’t agree with those findings”.  The NFL brought out their own findings and they were contradicting, incomplete, and puzzling at best.

The NFL was ready to leave the hearings but Representative Maxine Waters finally had enough of their arrogant display.  She stated that if the NFL didn’t choose to act, that maybe the Anti Trust status that protected them wasn’t warranted.  She also stated that the issue may need to be criminally investigated.  Just like now, Roger Goodell and the NFL turned into Eddie Haskell and “saw the light”.  The NFL then accepted the findings and the head physician for the NFL, Dr. Ira Casson was paid off and took the sword for the NFL and resigned.  The NFL put their palms on their heads and claimed of being naive and unknowing and promised to implement concussion controls.

All of this domestic violence should have been dealt with over 10 years ago.  They had a problem with domestic violence but the worst case of all happened in 1999.  Rae Caruth was a wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers.  He was casually hooking up with different women but he ended up getting Cherica Adams pregnant.  He wanted her to abort the baby but she wouldn’t.  While 8 months pregnant, Caruth was driving in front of her.  He stopped his car and 2 people that he hired pulled up beside her and shot into the car several times.  Before she passed out she called 911 and told the operator what happened.  Adams died, but an emergency c-section saved the child.  Caruth was amazingly given bail and told if one of the people died, he’d have to turn himself in.  Of course he fled.  He was finally caught and has been in prison ever since.  He is getting out in 2018.

I remember specifically because ESPN covered it some but eventually it went away quick.  It was bad publicity and they wanted it to just go away.  The NFL rarely if ever talked about the case.  HBO Real Sports did a story on him.

Isn’t a hit on a woman enough to get some sort of a statement and/or guidelines in regards to violence to women?

Two years ago Kansas City Chiefs Javon Belcher, shot his 22 year old girlfriend 9 times at their house.  When Belcher’s mom ran into the room he kissed his girlfriend on the head and told his mom he was sorry.  He then went to the Chiefs facility and shot himself in the head in front of Chiefs officials.  Again, nothing was done by the NFL to address this problem.  The only thing to come out of it was the controversy of Bob Costas anti gun stance.

There have been countless arrests for assaults and instances of domestic violence in the NFL but the answers are always the same.  “Don’t look at the NFL; this is a societal problem.  Domestic violence happens everywhere but people just look at the NFL because it makes the press.  Mom, Billy did the same thing……”  Alright I added the last one, but do you see how stupid those arguments are?  Give the NFL a pass because it’s also seen in society or other people do worse things?  It’s unacceptable.

Why is the NFL getting away with it?:

First of all when a beer company like Budweiser is threatening to pull some sponsorship because you lack character and morals, then you know you have issues.  What has partially saved the NFL is the shallow nature of the social media society we live in.  Sometimes it’s hard to get people to read more than 3 lines in an email, so expecting people to do research or read articles is naive at best.  We live in a shallow society that we want our stories in 2-3 minute intervals, and we want it in high definition video.  People can do horrendous things but it seems that it doesn’t count unless it’s on Youtube.

Let’s also be real.  Morals and character in the U.S. are very lacking.  Statistics show 50% of married people are cheating on their spouses; white collar crime is almost a part of our U.S. business structure.  Americans also make excuses for the behavior of groups, products, celebrities and athletes that they like.  When Justin Beiber had photos of him in strip clubs, his fans said they were photoshopped because he was too good a person to do those things.  Cults are a weird thing and the NFL for some has cult status.

Another thing that has saved the NFL is society does NOT protect or respect women.  All over the world the atrocities women go through is criminal and tragic.  Rape in the U.S. has one of the lowest conviction rates of any felony.  Women are usually murdered by men they’ve had past or present relationships with.  When football players; especially college players; get arrested for rape or sexual crimes, the first thing fans do is say the woman is a slut and there isn’t enough evidence.  Why?; Because in a sick way they just care about their team and that they win, and they don’t care about right or wrong.  And even if the woman is a slut; you can’t rape them.

What Needs to Be Done:   

Roger Goodell needs to resign.  He has enough money to retire for 3 lifetimes.  Using his own words, “he lacked organizational control”.

Upon entering the NFL, there needs to be ongoing meetings by teams and the NFL about conduct and consequences.  I know they meet with them now but it’s not nearly enough and it isn’t working.  If someone is having issues in a relationship, they need to get into counseling.  Every team should have a counseling team and should be hooked up to 24 hour on call telephone support.  Some do this already, some don’t.

Former broke NFL players who have tons of kids with several women need to be paid to come and talk to the players.  They need to see what will happen if they act irresponsibly.  People forget these players are still very young and some aren’t very educated (thank you NCAA).  Some also haven’t had good parental guidance so I would also do sex education classes to teach them about STD’s, groupies, and being trapped by having kids.  What is being done now isn’t enough and every stone needs to be turned.  Education is key.

If a player is arrested for felony domestic violence, you are suspended WITH pay immediately until the facts come out.  You cannot participate with the team in any way and you cannot go to the media or social media and speak for the team.  If you are found guilty of a felony, you are out of the league for 2 years.  If it’s a misdemeanor you are out one year.  This can be tweaked in the future to be more severe but I think it’s a good start.

Many times the people that are abused are financially stuck in the relationship.  If the player is found guilty, the team and the NFL MUST pay $100k/year in damages for 4 years.  This will allow the abused to not have to stay in the relationship and to either get an education or further their education or to get a trade.

Some will disagree, but you are taking entities that make billions per year and they need to be made accountable.  The NFL likes to talk about “organizational control” well then be in control of your organization during good and bad times.  If employees do damage, companies have to pay for it.  The NFL should show just how serious their stance is on domestic violence by putting their money where their mouth is.  If money is at stake; even only $100k; greedy owners and the NFL will take notice.  It’s called accountability.

Personally I think the same punishment should be done for assaults but let’s take it a step at a time.  Obviously these things are not written in stone but I think this is a good foundation to work on.

What Does it All Mean?:

Fans and sponsors have power.  The NFL’s manic reaction to the negative publicity shows the good of social media.  If sponsors don’t react, then they need to be boycotted.  If you as a fan don’t want to root for certain teams or players because of their off the field actions, then make your voice be heard by not giving them your money.

I don’t watch the NFL with the passion that I used to.  I am still going to watch the NFL but as I have for years, I don’t look up to players or celebrities.  I love the game and I used to go to many games but now I rarely go.  I’m talking with my dollars.  I appreciate their talents on the field but many have skeletons in their closet that are pretty deep.

My hopes are that people continue to wake up to the NFL and Roger Goodell.  Their past is so dirty that it would make Ebenezer Scrooge and Monte Burns of the Simpsons cringe.  It’s unacceptable and the only way they will change is if they are made to.  For them, it’s still all about the Benjamin’s.