Friday, January 11, 2013

A Sunday Ritual

No, not that one... It's been over three years since I last went to church.  I'm talking about the other Sunday ritual that millions of Americans partake in: watching and following the NFL.

The Cincinnati Bengals made it to the playoffs this season, despite starting the season 3-6, with a Pro Bowl receiver, A.J. Green, and a stellar defense.  I've also enjoyed seeing Peyton Manning succeed in Denver, and will be rooting for the Broncos now that the Bengals have been eliminated.  I can't wait to see Manning vs Brady next week, assuming both the Broncos and Patriots win this weekend.  In the NFC, it's been exciting to see the success of rookie QBs Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, the latter leading the Seattle Seahawks to a first round playoff victory.

Yesterday morning it was confirmed that Junior Seau, one of the best linebackers in the history of the game, had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a "a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia, memory loss and depression."  He shot himself last May, shocking friends, family, his community, former coaches and teammates, and the NFL world in general.  CTE is caused by repeated hits to the head, like the kind sustained while playing football or while boxing.  CTE can only be diagnosed post mortem, as doctors look at a slice of the deceased person's brain.

Chris Henry, the former Bengal, had CTE.  He died after jumping from the back of a moving vehicle.   Dave Duerson, a Pro Bowl safety with the Chicago Bears who retired in 1993, committed suicide in 2011, leaving a note that requested his brain be donated to research: he was found to have had CTE.

It's just not so fun anymore.  These players that we watch each Sunday--husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons--aren't just at risk for getting bruises and fractured bones.  They are damaging their most important muscle, their brain, for our entertainment.  This is why whenever there's a labor dispute between the owners and players, I'll always side with the players: give them more money, more guaranteed money, give them assurances that they won't be cut if they're injured to discourage playing through it... give them health care for the rest of their life.

But is that enough?  Are there fixes they can make to the game, or is it the game itself?  Should millions of us find a new Sunday ritual?


Tonja said...

Mine is laundry. :/

August said...

Hehe, mine too. I usually fold my clothes during halftime :)