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Sports Then and Now



Waiting for the Weekend: Is the NFL Really in Trouble This Time? 0

Posted on July 29, 2017 by Dean Hybl
A recent study of the brains of former NFL players showed almost all had some level of brain trauma.

A recent study of the brains of former NFL players showed almost all had some level of brain trauma.

For the last year or more, it seems every time there is a negative story about the NFL, it prompts the obligatory question of whether that particular issue will be the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” and signal the start of the decline for the financial and popularity juggernaut.

Whether it be declining television ratings, continued off-the-field incidents by players, the perception by many that the game isn’t as physical as in past, the abandonment of long-time NFL cities in St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland, the general unpopularity of Roger Goodell and the New England Patriots or a number of other “negative” stories or events, they all seem to just roll off the back of the NFL as overall revenues continue to increase to levels envied by most governments or for-profit businesses.

However, news that came out this week may over time be the one story that the NFL cannot easily shake.

A scientific study published this week in the medical journal JAMA looked at the brains of 202 deceased former high school, college and professional football players. Amongst those former players, 177, including 110 of the 111 former NFL players, were diagnosed as having CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy).

CTE is a degenerative brain disease most often found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. To create CTE, a protein called Tau forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain, killing brain cells. Studies have found CTE in people as young as 17, but symptoms most typically don’t begin appearing until years after the initial head impacts.

Early symptoms of CTE affect a patient’s mood and behavior. Some common changes often include impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and paranoia.

As the disease progresses, it is typical for patients to experience problems with thinking and memory, including memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, and eventually progressive dementia. Cognitive symptoms tend to appear later than mood and behavioral symptoms, and often first appear when the patient is in their 40s or 50s. Patients may exhibit one or both symptom clusters and the symptoms may often worsen with time (even if the patient suffers no additional head impacts). In other cases, symptoms may be stable for years before worsening. Read the rest of this entry →

One Blow Too Many: Why We Should Ban College Football…. 22

Posted on May 18, 2012 by JA Allen

Most of us relish the spectacle of college football on crisp Saturday afternoons, sitting in the stands at a mammoth football stadium in the heart of the Big Ten or the SEC.

We love the marching bands, the half-time entertainment and the spontaneous camaraderie in the stands. On game day, whether Division I or II, or III, college football remains as much a part of post-secondary academia as libraries, classrooms and puny-sized dorm rooms.

It comes from our rich heritage—the love we have for our respective alma mater. All this enhanced by football hoopla, beer foam, and online bets with bookies. These incentives—along with the added bounty of bone crushing hits—make us all look forward to the gridiron experience each and every Saturday after Labor Day.

College football IS America in 2012.  It is what we have evolved to since the 1950s.  Athletes have become bigger, stronger, and faster. Effective training has shaved seconds off scoring dashes down field while increased duration and strength training make the player from 60 years ago to seem almost comical by comparison.

We are assured by experts that modern equipment plus critical changes in football rules provide the modern player with adequate protection on the playing field. Yet, because of the current size and speed of college athletes, the brute force inherent in being tackled or tackling remain exponentially greater than they were even 20 years ago.

Still the thought of banning college football seems—well—it seems preposterous.  It would be like banning Little League or the Pinewood Derby.  Life just would not be the same. How could it be?

But consider this. According to Malcolm Gladwell, well-known author and columnist for the New Yorker magazine, the most compelling reason for banning college football is the number of head injuries college football players sustain in the course of a game, compounded over a season—additionally many seasons.

Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • George Musso: From Longshot to Hall of Famer
      August 5, 2017 | 4:52 pm
      George Musso

      George Musso

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month went from small college long shot to Pro Football Hall of Famer.

      When George Musso finished his college career at Millikin College in 1933, Chicago Bears coach George Halas offered the 6-foot-2, 265 pound lineman a tryout and eventually a $90 per game contract, but had serious doubts whether he could make the transition from small college football to the NFL.

      It took a year for Musso to adjust, but by 1935 he was an All-Pro tackle. Two years later, he moved to guard and again earned first team All-NFL honors. He became the first player in NFL history to earn first team All-League honors at two different positions.

      Read more »

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