• Sat, Feb 2 2013

Kudos To Former NFL Player Thomas Jones For Raising Awareness About Football Brain Injuries

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Thomas Jones, a former running back in the NFL, has announced plans to donate his brain to science after he dies. Why? He’s spearheading an effort to raise awareness about the risks of playing football, including the affects of multiple concussions. An issue that’s definitely something to be cognizant of as you’re watching tomorrow’s Super Bowl, or any football game.

Jones played 12 seasons in the NFL for five different teams and recently retired from the Kansas City Chiefs. He says he hasn’t experienced the memory loss or the chronic headaches that can come along with a professional football career, but he wonders about the long-term affects that his time in the NFL had on his body.

That’s partially why he’s involved in making a documentary film called ”The NFL: The Gift Or The Curse.” In talking to doctors and players about the effects of the hard hits football players can take over years of playing the game, he decided this was an issue he wanted to address. Jones cites the example of Junior Seau, who committed suicide in 2012; Seau apparently suffered from a neurodegenerative brain disease that can develop from concussions known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. Jones says, of professional football:

Yeah, we’re making a lot of money but the reality is you’re taking a chance with your life, as well.

Jones has decided to donate his brain to the Sports Legacy Institute upon his death. Hopefully Jones won’t be leaving us for a few more decades, but I think his commitment to brain health in football is really admirable. Hanna Brooks Olsen recently wrote about her love for the game, despite its many problems; I think that if more Americans were willing to look at football and see both the positives and the negatives, the football culture in our country would be a lot healthier (and safer) for both the players and the fans.

Jones says he hopes the NFL will figure out a way to address this growing problem, but that:

Football is football, it’s a gladiator sport. Unfortunately, that’s part of the game.

 

In the meantime, I’m glad that Jones himself is acting as a positive force for this increasingly-important issue.

Photo via CNN

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  • Lastango

    “…concussions. An issue that’s definitely something to be cognizant of as you’re watching tomorrow’s Super Bowl, or any football game.”

    ======

    Nah. How about if people just enjoy the game instead. Viewers can think about brain injuries some other time. Once we start down the road of wanting to mix our concerns into the coverage, we’ll eventually end up with Oprah-esque “relevance” at halftime. The last thing I want to watch is an NFL exercise in PR interjected into the middle of game coverage so the League can build its caring/sharing cred. We’ve had too much of that crap already:

    http://www.nfl.com/pink

    http://www.article-3.com/nfl-goes-pink-raising-awareness-or-raising-profits-99527

    There’s lots more where that came from:

    == “This past season, the NFL and its broadcast partners began a campaign called “Back to Football Friday,” where the emphasis was put on youth health and wellness as a nationwide priority. The campaign brought in more viewers, Waller said.”

    == “The NFL also partnered with Nickelodeon, the children’s TV network, to produce an animated series called “Rush Zone: Guardians of the Core,” which specifically targeted children ages 6-12.”

    At bottom, a “relevance” focus is about the NFL trying to fix its declining TV ratings and ticket sales (down 5% since 2007) by marketing the game to women:

    http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/nfl-continues-score-women-viewers/237374/

    Are concussions a major issue? Absolutely. There’s a time and place to think about it and talk about it. But not during the game. Women playing college basketball have knee injuries at five times the rate of men (the same is true in soccer), but I want to watch UConn do its thing on the court without the announcers chattering about health and wellness.