Football and 9-11

Sometime after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, my old boss, Jim Lehrer, said that he would never look at a jet in the sky in quite the same way again.

I’ve been thinking about what Jim said this football season as I’ve watched games where there have been some serious hits involving players’ heads.  (There was one particularly bad one in last night’s “Sunday Night” game between Seattle and San Francisco.)

If you’ve been following all the coverage about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), I wonder if you’ve had the same reaction.  (FYI, here’s a definition of it.)  Ever since I saw images of brain samples from former Bear Dave Duerson who committed suicide, I can’t help but think about them whenever I see a particularly vicious hit.  The evidence appears to be fairly strong that there may be a link between the multiple hits players suffer and the development of CTE.

When you look at the huge stadiums, the crowds, the coverage, the commercials, etc., it is troubling to think that players might be paying the price for the whole extravaganza with their mental health.  Yeah, I know.  Grown men have the right to make choices about how they use their bodies, how to support themselves and their families, and so forth.  But like I said.  I don’t look at a violent hit in football in quite the same way anymore.

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