Other Concussions and Player Safety Issues

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GG.exe

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Key concussion suit ruling coming next month




In many respects, the massive NFL concussion lawsuit is forgotten, but hardly gone. The flow of new claims has gone from a trickle to dust, and the anti-football factions in the media generally have seemed to surrender to the idea that, even if certain aspects of football are inherently unsafe, Americans routinely engage in far more inherently dangerous activities for far less (or no) money.

Players of every age now know the risks of playing football, and football players are still playing football. Likewise, football fans are still watching football. The gloom and doom predicted by many has yet to even begin to take root.

But the concussion litigation persists. Amid the potentially valid injuries sustained by former players are many men who surely view the process as a supplemental severance package, goaded by opportunistic lawyers who easily can make the case for healthy men making claims. Regardless of motivation, a key ruling that will determine the future — and drive the value — of the claims is coming in little more than a month.

A ruling on the NFL’s motion to dismiss the concussion cases is expected on July 22. The NFL believes that most of the claims are governed by the labor agreements between the league and the NFLPA. If the league succeeds, the claims will be sent to the arbitration process, which removes from the equation the possibility of a sympathy-driven verdict that could cripple the owners financially.

If Judge Anita Brody believes that the various labor deals don’t override individual player rights, then the lawsuits will persist, and the NFL should quickly get serious about settling them.

The donut hole for the NFL arises from the periods during which no labor deal was in place, such as after the failed strike in 1987 through 1993. Still, from a liability standpoint, the biggest potential problems for the NFL arise after the formation of the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee in 1994, since the strongest arguments regarding failure to warn and/or protect players flow from the notion that the MTBI downplayed the risks of head injuries.

Before the litigation gets to the question of whether the league failed to warn or protect players, the preliminary legal skirmishes must be resolved. If/when the lawsuits survive the first challenge from the league, the next fight will relate to the many claims that apparently were filed after the application of the statute of limitations.
 

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NCAA may take harder line than NFL on hits to the head




In recent years, the NFL has been, depending on your perspective, either at the forefront of protecting players from head injuries, or at the forefront of softening the physical nature of the game of football. But this season, college football may go further than the NFL ever has when it comes to taking hits to the head out of the game.

The NCAA has already approved a new rule for 2013 that mandates an ejection for any player who targets a defenseless opponent with a hit above the shoulders, but until the college football season starts, it’s tough to say just how strictly college football officials will enforce that rule. Tom Dienhart of Big Ten Network, however, is at a gathering of college football officials today, and he reports that they’re being instructed to take the new rule very, very seriously.

In fact, Dienhart’s takeaway from everything he heard about the new rule is, “get ready for ejections.”

The Big Ten’s marching orders for its officials on players who hit defenseless opponents in the head is, “When in doubt, throw him out.” The Big Ten (like the NFL) reviews questionable hits on the Monday after games and can suspend players, but the conference doesn’t want to deal with it on Mondays. The conference wants officials to deal with it on Saturdays, by ejecting players from games.

NFL officials also have the authority to eject players for hits to the helmet of defenseless opponents, but most of the time it’s just a 15-yard penalty and a fine from the league office after the fact. But if the new college rule leads to a perception that the NCAA is taking hits to the head more seriously than the NFL is, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the NFL respond by matching the NCAA’s approach. It’s only a college rule for now, but NFL fans may need to get ready for ejections, too.
 

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NCAA may take harder line than NFL on hits to the head





In fact, Dienhart’s takeaway from everything he heard about the new rule is, “get ready for ejections.”
No issue with such... but the raw factor remains.. CONSISTENCY. That can be quite troubling with many situations arising. IMHO... the only way to hit this on the head (pun intended) is opting for three strikes out simple formula on Personal fouls (15 yard penalties). Chop blocks, late hits that are concussion based not just over zealous officiating, horse collar & face mask tackles that are clearly obvious (not illegal use of hands fouls) and of course hit below the knees on the QB... infact low hits below on the knees (with helmet) should carry an automatic suspension if anything.

The Big Ten’s marching orders for its officials on players who hit defenseless opponents in the head is, “When in doubt, throw him out.”
:confused: makes no sense.. unless it's more about the incompetent officials who botch up the calls.

It’s only a college rule for now, but NFL fans may need to get ready for ejections, too.
That's the trouble with Goodell's underwhelming inconsistency.. he was pulling too many punches on threats with suspensions without making a firm decision of what constitutes a suspension. I admit that Harrison's tackling technique was SLOPPY on a couple occasions but some of the 'targeted calls' for accidental helmet contact/ meagre late hits on QB after the impact had been with the upper body were just insanely overzealous with penalties. WTF were the fines for?
 

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The NFL is going electronic with every players full medical history, and by 2014 theses records will be available on the sidelines during games.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sport...cal-records-online-ipads-concussions/2528111/

The data — X-rays, imaging studies, notes and more, regardless of where the player may have been examined in the past — would be stored on iPads, which every NFL medical staff will begin using this season as part of the league's ongoing efforts to improve concussion assessment.

"Now, it's a visual to the player. That's the important thing," James Bradley, the Pittsburgh Steelers' head orthopedic surgeon and chairman of the league's medical research committee, told USA TODAY Sports.

"If we can just sit him down and say, 'Look, here's your balance test and your cognitive skills, your memory, your reaction time.' Now they've got a visual of that, which is a very positive step forward with the players accepting that they have an issue and wanting to get it resolved."

Each iPad in use this season will be loaded with X2 software that includes the Sideline Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT-3), the most advanced version yet of the neurocognitive test to determine if a player has a concussion.

The results for most teams will get printed and placed into a physical chart. Eight teams — the Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers — will participate in a pilot program that allows the results to be shot through the Internet into a player's electronic medical record (EMR).

If all goes well, as it did with beta testing of the iPads last season, complete electronic medical records (including baseline concussion assessments) could be in use and transferable between all 32 teams as a player moves via trades or free agency beginning next year.
 

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Autopsy shows CTE in former college quarterback



Cullen Finnerty, the former college quarterback who died in May at the age of 30, has been found to have the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

The New York Times reports that Finnerty’s brain was studied at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University, and he was found to have CTE. That’s the same brain disease that has been diagnosed through autopsies of several former NFL players, most notably Dave Duerson and Junior Seau, both of whom committed suicide with gunshots to the chest.

The diagnosis of CTE in a player who never played at the professional level raises a question: Did all of the former NFL players whose brains have shown signs of CTE actually have the disease before they ever got to the NFL because of hits to the head suffered in college, high school or youth football?

Much more research needs to be done before we know exactly what causes CTE, how it affects those who have it and how it can be prevented. Some doctors say there’s no proof at all that repeated impacts cause CTE. The disease can only be definitively diagnosed via autopsy.

Finnerty led Grand Valley State to three NCAA Division II national championships. He was briefly on the rosters of the Ravens and Broncos but never played in an NFL game. Finnerty was found dead in the Michigan woods after he went missing in May. The autopsy listed pneumonia as the cause of death, and said the pneumonia was exacerbated by use of oxycodone and by CTE.
 

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A federal judge said the NFL and more than 4,500 former players will settle their concussion-related lawsuits for $765 million.

A group of former players headed by Tony Dorsett, Jim McMahon and the family of deceased Junior Seau accused the NFL of hiding known risks of concussions so that players could return to games and league could protect its image. The NFL still denies any wrongdoing, but they avoid an extended and even costlier litigation process by settling. They also avoid letting the public know exactly how guilty they really were. The $765 million will be used for medical benefits, retired players' injury compensation and medical research. It's a monumental moment for a league that only recently began taking player safety seriously. Although the NFL got off relatively cheap, players will be better protected going forward.
 

Sven

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^^^^^
I'm sure Goodell and others will be sleeping a lot better now that the concussion lawsuit looks like it's settled. Here's a longer article from scout.com that provides a few more details:

The NFL has reached a tentative $765 million settlement over concussion-related brain injuries among its 18,000 retired players, agreeing to compensate victims, pay for medical exams and underwrite research.

A federal judge announced the agreement Thursday after months of court-ordered mediation. It came just days before the start of the 2013 season.

More than 4,500 former athletes — some suffering from dementia, depression or Alzheimer’s that they blamed on blows to the head — had sued the league, accusing it of concealing the dangers of concussions and rushing injured players back onto the field while glorifying and profiting from the kind of bone-jarring hits that make for spectacular highlight-reel footage.

The NFL has long denied any wrongdoing and insisted that safety has always been a top priority. But the NFL said Thursday that Commissioner Roger Goodell told pro football’s lawyers to “do the right thing for the game and the men who played it.”

The plaintiffs included Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon and the family of Pro Bowler Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year.

Under the settlement, individual awards would be capped at $5 million for men with Alzheimer’s disease; $4 million for those diagnosed after their deaths with a brain condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy; and $3 million for players with dementia, said lead plaintiffs’ lawyer Christopher Seeger.
Any of the approximately 18,000 former NFL players are eligible.

Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia announced the proposed agreement and will consider approving it at a later date.

The settlement most likely means the NFL won’t have to disclose internal files about what it knew, and when, about concussion-linked brain problems. Lawyers had been eager to learn, for instance, about the workings of the league’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, which was led for more than a decade by a rheumatologist.

In court arguments in April, NFL lawyer Paul Clement asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuits and send them to arbitration under terms of the players’ contract. He said that individual teams bear the chief responsibility for health and safety under the collective bargaining agreement, along with the players’ union and the players themselves.

Players lawyer David Frederick accused the league of concealing studies linking concussions to neurological problems for decades.

In recent years, a string of former NFL players and other concussed athletes have been diagnosed after their deaths with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Those ex-players included Seau and lead plaintiff Ray Easterling, who filed the first lawsuit in Philadelphia in August 2011 but later committed suicide.

About one-third of the league’s 12,000 former players eventually joined the litigation. They include a few hundred “gap” players, who played during years when there was no labor contract in place, and were therefore considered likely to win the right to sue.
 

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I'm sure Goodell and others will be sleeping a lot better now that the concussion lawsuit looks like it's settled. Here's a longer article from scout.com that provides a few more details:
Good stuff. As always though the devil will be in the detail of exactly what will happen to that $800 million, and also how it will be funded and protected from being frivolously wasted. Hopefully they develop a combination of a system of enhanced pension payments for former players, better insurance payouts for current players, and enhanced research and medical testing packages...
 

GG.exe

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I was aware of how serious concussions and cte are and their effects on the human body. But after watching this, it made me realize that in about 10-20-30 years football as we know it will cease to exist. Some pretty eye opening and jaw dropping stuff going on here.
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It makes you wonder why it is NFL owners think their product's value will stay constant or go up...because it won't. The sport will have to evolve and it's just about impossible to project in what way it will evolve that will cause it to retain popularity. The power of it, the speed of it...those are what cause the violent collisions, yet those characteristics are what audiences like about football. An improved helmet can only do so much. The collision with the ground is also a cause of head trauma.
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Yeah, it's marketed on the physical nature of the sport. I think the NFL is in their peak right now. But will be going down over time. Also, research into developing helmets and materials to help with concussions is BS. It's impossible. It's simple physics. Imagine being in a car going 50 mph and you hit a wall. The car stops but you are still going 50mph. Same thing with your brain. Your brain is surrounded by fluid and inside your skull. You take a hit to your head, no matter how much padding you have on the outside, your brain is still going to be absorbing trauma on the inside of your skull.
 

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GG - feel free to move this to a more suitable thread, because I'm not sure whether it fits here.

The NY Times today published a story about former UNC offensive lineman Ryan Hoffman who is currently homeless and suffering from various mental issues, including severe short term memory loss. Unsurprisingly (given it appears he didn't actually play in the NFL) he won't benefit from the concussion settlement the NFL reached with former players.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/08/s...-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=1&smid==tw-nytsports
 

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http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/08/s...ago-is-now-homeless.html?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

A Former College Lineman Now on the Streets, Looking for Answers, and Help
Ryan Hoffman, a U.N.C. Football Player Two Decades Ago, Is Now Homeless

MARCH 5, 2015

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Ryan Hoffman, with a sign reading, “Trying 2 Get Back On My Feet. God Bless,” panhandling in…



Lakeland, Fla. Hoffman, 40, has been homeless for more than eight months. He acknowledges addictions to alcohol and prescription medication.CreditÁngel Franco/The New York Times

LAKELAND, Fla. — With sunset minutes away, the man in the neon yellow knit hat took his usual spot here at a busy intersection. Across from a Publix supermarket and on the edge of a Circle K parking lot, he sat against a streetlight holding a worn cardboard sign with dirt-stained hands that could easily palm a basketball.

“Lost Job. Laid Off. Homeless.”

Here was the man I had been looking for.

At the urging of his family, I had tracked him down after a string of texts to several prepaid cellphones kept — and lost — by this man, who is plagued with short-term memory problems. For weeks, I had wondered what he would be like and how many details he could remember from his former life, which he had abandoned — or which maybe had abandoned him? — years ago.

And now, here he was, looking forlorn in the fading light, his big, blank blue eyes beseeching drivers for a dollar or two. Each time cash appeared through a car window, he sprinted there, retrieved the bills with a “God bless,” and just about skipped back to his spot by the lamppost. “I really don’t want to do this,” he said, “but I have to. Gotta eat.”

His life wasn’t always like this. Nearly 20 years and more than 100 pounds ago, this panhandler in the yellow knit cap, Ryan Hoffman, was a hulking offensive lineman for a college football team ranked in the top 10, a starting player renowned for his toughness and durability. Now his old Levis are so big that even a belt on its ninth notch can’t keep them from sagging below his hips.

“Look, I’m still in tiptop physical shape and can probably run a marathon,” Hoffman said, the words tumbling out of a mouth missing a tooth that was knocked out in a street fight. “It’s my brain that keeps me from being a productive member of society. I’m physically very strong, but I’m mentally so weak. Something is wrong with me. I don’t know what it is, but I used to be normal, you know?

“I’m confident — well, I’m pretty sure — that football had something to do with it.”

Football’s toll on its participants is well established. We know about dozens of former N.F.L. players who were left with severe brain damage from repeated blows to the head. Their stories often contain disturbingly similar details — depression, substance abuse, memory loss, dementia — and their brain damage was always revealed posthumously.

But there are many more former players out there wondering if they are football’s next casualties. Most of those players are not famous. Most never made a dime off the game. They are relatively anonymous men who played the sport in college and only later, for some reason or another, have found themselves struggling in life.

Photo

A plaque showing Ryan Hoffman in 1997, during his senior year at North Carolina.CreditÁngel Franco/The New York Times
Just like their N.F.L. counterparts, Hoffman and those former college players have been left to wonder: Did football do this? Are the hits to the head I took the reason for my decline? Or would I be in this condition even if I’d never played a down?

They might never know the answer, because a definitive answer may not exist.

Hoffman blames football for scrambling his brain, but at this point it is impossible to disentangle what could be football-related brain injuries from his subsequent drug use and possibly genetic mental illness. He simply cannot be sure. No one can.

He and players like him are faced with the same terrifying uncertainty as former pros. Yet none of them will benefit from the $765 million settlement the N.F.L. has agreed to pay to thousands of its former players, and few of them can expect much help.

Spun out of a college football system that makes billions of dollars for the N.C.A.A. and its member universities, these former college athletes are little more than collateral damage.

“Those are the players who are being left behind in this whole concussion debate, and unfortunately, for some of them, it’s a life-or-death issue,” said Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, the newly formed college players union. “But even if the N.C.A.A. paid a billion-dollar settlement, it may not be enough to help all the college players suffering right now. There are just too many of them.”

Making Sense of It All

Hoffman, 40, is about as far from the game as one can be. For more than eight months, he has been homeless. He has been stabbed. He has been shot. He acknowledges addictions to alcohol and prescription medication. He has served time in jail. He has sold his blood for $20 to $30 a pop, and has sold drugs, too. But sometimes even that is not enough to buy food; he once was arrested for stealing an eight-piece fried chicken bucket from a supermarket.

Once upon a time, though, Hoffman was a football star, a 6-foot-5, 287-pound left tackle at the University of North Carolina, the ironman on a team that went 11-1 and sent a half-dozen players to long careers in the N.F.L. In 1997, his final college season, he played nearly every snap. His position coach, Eddie Williamson, called him “the epitome of an offensive lineman:” physical, durable, driven.

But when his dream to play in the N.F.L. never materialized, Hoffman stumbled into the real world, and he has failed to right himself ever since.

The pattern of his downfall is not unique. It is football’s ongoing problem.

At the Sports Legacy Institute, which studies sports-related brain trauma and its aftereffects, more and more phone calls are flooding in from former college players (or their families) concerned that football has damaged their ability to live normal lives.

“They’re starting to connect the dots, because the players are literally watching themselves change,” said Chris Nowinski, one of the institute’s founders. Nowinski said he used to field the calls himself, but now needs help because of the volume.

Photo

An undated photo of Hoffman provided by his mother, Irene. “If Ryan can’t get help soon," she said, “I’m afraid we’ll find him dead on the side of the road.”
Hoffman’s sister and only sibling, Kira Soto, was the first person to make the connection between football and her brother’s radical changes in behavior. After seeing reports about chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease caused by repeated hits to the head, Soto researched its symptoms. Depression. Sensitivity to light. Memory loss. Impulse control. Aggression. With every sentence, she could feel her stomach lurch. She was reading a description of her brother.

“That’s exactly when I thought: ‘Oh, my God, football. Football did this to Ryan,’ ” she said. Their mother, Irene, felt relieved that the family finally had an answer. Their father, Chad, said that while mental illness runs in the family and could have contributed to Ryan’s decline, he also believes football has permanently damaged his son.

The problem is that it cannot be conclusive that Ryan has C.T.E. because not everyone with it exhibits symptoms of it, and because it can be diagnosed only after a person’s death. Hoffman’s family members fear they may learn the truth sooner than later.

“If Ryan can’t get help soon,” Irene Hoffman said, “I’m afraid we’ll find him dead on the side of the road.”

Promise, and Then Problems

Ryan Hoffman’s memory is flimsy. Just hours after I met him at a seafood place for lunch here in January, he told me that he was not hungry because he had just been to a great seafood place. He suggested I try it. But he does remember things about his life as a football player.

“You try to hold on to those memories when they’re all you’ve got,” he said.

Hoffman took up the game as a high school freshman and pushed through the hard hits and the headaches and the time he vomited several times on the team bus riding home from a particularly physical game. Soon the recruiters from the top college programs came calling. Nebraska. Florida State. Alabama.

Hoffman, with the help of meticulous research by his father, a management consultant, picked North Carolina. But what his parents did not realize was that Ryan was about to become another interchangeable piece in America’s football machine. Once he arrived on campus, he was just a number — in his case a Carolina blue 79 — but Ryan reveled in it.

“I thought I’d just play my sport, then make the N.F.L. and go live in some big mansion,” he said.

Hoffman recalled having only one concussion, during his junior year, but couldn’t remember the details. He said he might have had others, too, but never complained because he feared losing his starting position. He never thought about the possible consequences.

Yet by his final season, Hoffman said, he noticed that his mind had begun to warp, and that antisocial thoughts — punching strangers, drinking and driving — had begun to creep in. When Soto visited him that year, she also noticed something odd: Hoffman had lined up clear plastic bags around his bedroom, spaced perfectly apart, containing things like his keys and his notebooks.

“I asked him why he was acting so weird — why the Ziplocs? — and he said, ‘It’s the only way I can mentally remember where things are,’ ” she said.

Photo

Hoffman gathering his blankets from where he slept in between the doors of a closed restaurant in Lakeland, Fla. CreditÁngel Franco/The New York Times
“Looking back,” she said, “he probably felt himself losing control.”

Lost Without Football

Maybe Hoffman was too small to be a pro. Maybe he wasn’t fast enough. Whatever the reason, no N.F.L. team called Hoffman during the draft or afterward, and by the spring of 1998 his football career was over — just as it was for the thousands of other players that year (and in other years) who didn’t make the step up to the N.F.L.

Many went on to productive careers and happiness outside football. Some were not as fortunate.

After graduation, Hoffman moved into his father’s house in Florida, jobless and without direction. He struggled to sleep. He complained of headaches and dizziness and of hearing loud noises like shotgun blasts inside his head and of seeing flashing lights. In college, Hoffman’s worst offenses were speeding tickets and fishing without a license. Now he was getting into fistfights regularly, getting arrested, stealing, using marijuana, abusing Valium.

Doctors could not figure out what was wrong. They prescribed Xanax and Adderall, and diagnosed a long list of psychological disorders: depression, schizoaffective disorder, manic depression, borderline personality disorder, anger impulse control disorder.

His sister enrolled him in welding school and got him a job at a parasailing company. He worked in construction, then as a roofer, then at a mattress plant. He even fought in M.M.A., encouraged to do so by his father, who thought Hoffman’s growing anger could be put to use there.

Nothing lasted, including his marriage. Hoffman divorced in 2008, and his daughter and stepson moved in with a grandmother. His life was unraveling like a tattered old Tar Heels jersey.

“I didn’t have football anymore,” Hoffman said, “so I felt lost.”

Last summer, Chad Hoffman tried one last time to get his son back on track. He called in a favor from a friend to land Ryan an office job, but Ryan was a week late to the interview and then lost the position on the first day.

Exasperated, the father decided he could provide no more, either financially or emotionally. For so many years he had supported his son with money for doctors, lawyers and bail, not to mention cars that Ryan would crash and a room that Ryan would trash. Chad had long worn one of Ryan’s bejeweled bowl rings when he wanted to dress up, but now he ripped it from his finger and tossed it at his son.

“When you’re ready to join me on this, we can move ahead together,” he recalled telling his son.

Ryan Hoffman left and never came back.

Photo

Hoffman, right, with his girlfriend, Michelle Pettigrew, left, and a friend at a McDonald's in Lakeland. CreditÁngel Franco/The New York Times
These days most of his things are tucked into one corner of his sister’s garage: a red bicycle that he had put together from used parts; a worn duffel bag from the Sun Bowl, now filled with sweatshirts and socks; a scuffed laptop; his rock collection. His worldly possessions now take up barely 10 square feet.

He considers himself lucky some nights if he can find an abandoned home where he can sneak in with his flattened cardboard box and thick gray mover’s blanket and settle into a restless sleep. Other nights, he naps on the concrete porch of a shuttered business, or in a dark field, keeping one eye open for police.

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RECENT COMMENTS
Joe Swatzell

2 hours ago
Yes, it is indeed a sad story, but with a father who should be moderately intelligent (management consultant), doing "meticulous...

Carl Hultberg
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Well written story and a great basis for a movie. From the college football team to the homeless street team. But still a leader.

Leon Arie. A.
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Those cheap cell phones he keeps loosing maybe frying his brains with IFR.That is probably the reason he looses them subconsciously.A good...

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His family worries.

“How do you help someone you love so much, and who is so precious to you, who you’d give your life for, but who doesn’t want help and who can’t think straight anymore?” Chad Hoffman said, his eyes filling with tears. “Maybe you can’t.

“How did someone who had that much talent end up like Ryan? Maybe we’ll never find out.”

What Now?

How many parents of former college players are asking the same thing?

When I wrote last year about Rayfield Wright, the Hall of Fame offensive tackle, and his battle with early-onset dementia, more than a dozen emails arrived in my inbox from college players who empathized with him. Football had damaged their brains, too, they wrote.

But those players weren’t Pro Football Hall of Famers; most had been mere practice dummies or complementary players like Hoffman, comets who once dazzled on Saturday nights but quickly fizzled out and disappeared from view.

Hoffman, picking up a used cigarette in the parking lot and lighting it, said he was not jealous of those who made the leap to the N.F.L. that he could not. The rosters of his college teams are littered with players who went on to long pro careers. Dre’ Bly. Alge Crumpler. Greg Ellis. Vonnie Holliday. One of Hoffman’s old linemates, Jeff Saturday, went from Chapel Hill to Indianapolis, where he won a Super Bowl as Peyton Manning’s longtime center.

Saturday told me he was shocked to hear that Hoffman was homeless and aimless now because Hoffman had been so focused in college. Hoffman was elated to hear that Saturday remembered him.

“I’m proud of those guys who made it,” Hoffman said. “And, you know, maybe if I would have made it in the N.F.L., maybe I would’ve gotten paralyzed or something.”

Instead, he is paralyzed in other ways. Months after the police supposedly confiscated his identification last year, he has yet to apply for a new government I.D. Day after day he told me, “Yeah, maybe tomorrow I’ll go to the office to get one.”

Photo

Hoffman collecting $2 from a driver while panhandling in Lakeland.CreditÁngel Franco/The New York Times
Without an I. D., Hoffman can’t stay in a shelter, so he spends his days and nights looking for places to hang out for a while. His girlfriend, Michelle Pettigrew, lives on the street with him, and often snuggles next to him when he’s panhandling.

Hoffman has also befriended a 22-year-old high school dropout who told me he has a mental illness, is addicted to drugs and is occasionally suicidal. Hoffman said he feels a responsibility to keep Pettigrew and the young man safe. He is in charge of finding them a place to sleep every night. He said that duty gives him a purpose, but that he wants so much more.

“I really just want to get a job, so I can be a good father,” he said, wiping tears. “I don’t want my daughter to see me like this.”

Soto continues to seek help for him. At one point in 2010 she reached out to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who steered her to the University of South Florida. Hoffman underwent neuropsychological testing there, but his first visit there was also his last.

“Those doctors said there was definitely something there and that I should follow up with more tests, but I never did because I didn’t like them prodding,” he said. “I’m afraid they will tell me something I don’t want to hear.”

Instead of seeking regular medical help, Hoffman said he self-medicates, often by using his panhandling money to buy apple pie moonshine off the street or $2 Modelos from convenience stores.

He said he felt “like a king” at North Carolina because of how football players were treated. Now, when he needs a shower, he drops by a friend’s house, maybe once a week. For toilets, he relies on gas stations and McDonald’s. He is losing weight, week by week, and is down to 185 pounds. The dimple that once graced his face is all but gone, not that there is much to smile about.

His family lives about 200 miles northeast, a world away. Hoffman’s mother wires him $20 here, $100 there, mostly for new cellphones because Hoffman keeps losing his. She is desperate to keep tabs on him.

Before Christmas, she sent him a text message on his girlfriend’s phone: Where are you now? Don’t give up. Ryan, I can’t assist you if I don’t hear from you. Need to hear from you, Ryan.

Hoffman responded: sorry. depressed and its got best of me. might not make it. i quit.

His mother wrote back: Where are you? Don’t give up.

Hoffman: i need a phone. i’m miserable. i want to die.

CONTINUE READING THE MAIN STORY544COMMENTS
“Sometimes, I just pray that a meteorite hits me,” Hoffman told me. “I think about drinking until I die and just lay down. But I need money to get a drink, so I need to work. A little bit of me still thinks there’s hope. I have some issues, but I’m still viable.

“I just need a little help. I just don’t know how to get out of this myself.”

Inside that shell of a man — a player turned panhandler whose spotlight is now a dim streetlight — there is still that athlete who doesn’t want to quit.
 

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– Poor-fitting helmets _ Del Rio’s pet peeve when it comes to the NFL safety issue.

Del Rio said he believes he had only one concussion at USC and none in the NFL. He said he wore his helmet so tight he needed to use Vaseline to get it over his ears. He promised Raiders players would have proper fitting helmets.

“I played four years of high school, four years of college, practice and played 11 years in the NFL. Not one time did my helmet ever come off. Ever.”
 

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NFL found 25 failures to remove players from 2012 through 2014
Posted by Mike Florio on March 27, 2015, 8:35 PM EDT
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Earlier this week, the NFL gave the ATC spotter the power to stop the game action and insist on the removal of a player in distress. It gives the spotter unprecedented authority, but it definitely was needed.

According to the league office, film study revealed 25 occasions in the last three seasons during which players in distress were not immediately removed from play. (In a recent appearance on PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent inadvertently said that the 25 plays came entirely from 2014.)

Vincent specifically confirmed that Patriots receiver Julian Edelman should have been removed from play for further evaluation after taking a blow to the head in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIX. It nevertheless remains to be seen whether the ATC spotter will stop the action and remove a key player during crunch time of a postseason game.

NBC Sports Medicine Analyst Mike Ryan, a long-time NFL athletic trainer, explained during Friday’s PFT Live that it shouldn’t be an issue, because the spotter should at all times have player health and safety as the paramount concern. Still, if the spotter removes, for example, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at a critical moment of the Super Bowl and Brady ends up being fine, the spotter will need to be ready to withstand the criticism that necessarily will come from the decision to send Brady to the sideline for at least one snap.
 

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FDA clamps down on Taumark’s claims
Posted by Mike Florio on April 11, 2015, 6:25 PM EDT
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In 2013, a four-letter network touted a company known as Taumark. In 2015, a three-letter federal agency has essentially shut Taumark down.

According to Alan Zarembo of the Los Angeles Times, the Food and Drug Administration has forced UCLA researchers Gary Small and Jorge Barrio to stop claiming that their experimental brain scan can test for brain conditions like Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy. Through Taumark, Small and Barrio had suggested that injections with a radioactive compound followed by brain scans could provide early detection of CTE, dementia, and other brain conditions. The company reportedly found CTE in Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett.

But the FDA has found that this claim violates federal law regarding the promotion of unapproved drugs. As of Friday, Taumark’s website was taken offline.

When first launched, Taumark had the potential of detecting CTE, a condition that otherwise can only be determined by studying brain tissue directly, in the living. And it created obvious interest in the potential for football players to know whether and to what extent they may be susceptible to long-term cognitive problems.

This latest development shows how far science has to go, not only to understand what it means to have CTE but to find it in someone who is still at risk of further head injuries.
 

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Appeal of concussion settlement filed
Posted by Mike Florio on May 13, 2015, 6:11 PM EDT
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Former players who need compensation for the long-term consequences of head injuries have been waiting since August 2013 to receive their payments. They’ll be waiting even longer.

Craig Heimburger and Dawn Heimburger have filed an appeal of the court order approving the settlement of the concussion litigation against the NFL. Even if the appeal fails, the process of resolving the case and paying benefits could be delayed by another year, or longer.

“We are extremely disappointed and perplexed that an objector would file a notice to appeal the Court’s final order, even though this decision means thousands of retired NFL players suffering from devastating neurocognitive injuries, and those concerned about their future, will now be forced to wait many months for the immediate care and support they deserve,” the lawyers representing the retired players said in a statement.

“Final approval was granted by Judge Anita Brody only after objections were raised and heard at the fairness hearing in November and carefully considered by the Court. Ultimately, in an extremely detailed and thorough opinion, the Court overruled the very same objections that will likely be made in any appeal.”

The Heimburgers may not be alone in their efforts. The family of former NFL safety Dave Duerson, who committed suicide in 2011, said last month that they will appeal the settlement.

“With over 99 percent participation, it is clear the retired player community overwhelmingly supports this agreement,” the lawyers representing the former players said. “Throughout this settlement process, we have heard directly from countless retired players who are in dire need of these benefits, and their most common question has been to ask how quickly they can get help. For those who hoped to receive benefits as soon as this summer, this appeal is heartbreaking news. We look forward to offering a forceful defense of the settlement in the Court of Appeals.”

Regardless of whether the lawyers or any of the former players don’t like it, the procedure allows for an appeal to be pursued. And, as in any class action, it takes only one member of the class who objects to the deal to appeal.

It’s unclear which aspect(s) of the settlement the appeal will attack. As explained in the aftermath of the approval of the settlement, it arguably mishandles the CTE issue.
 

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I saw this on twitter this week. Former Giants Player who played for them in the Superbowl a few seasons ago. OD'd last year and was found to suffer from CTE

 

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The Snake’s damaged brain
Posted on February 3, 2016 by Matt Artz


Add Kenny Stabler to the growing list of NFL players to suffer brain damage. The New York Times reported today that Stabler had severe C.T.E, the degenerative brain disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head.

The story details Stabler’s cognitive decline before he died of cancer last year.

Here are a couple blurbs:


“There were days when I walked in the door and looked at his face, and I could tell,” Bush said. “He was sitting in his chair, because he was always waiting for me, and the news was on and whatnot, and he had his head laid back, and his eyes just scrunched up so tight that I used to think that would give you a headache in itself, just the pure pressure of squinting like that.”

Noise and bright lights became enemies. A lifelong lover of music, Stabler stopped listening to the radio in the car, choosing to drive hours in silence. He increasingly complained about the clanging of kitchen dishes and the volume of the television.
 

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Retired WR Adrian Coxson said Wednesday that he's still feeling the effects of the concussion he suffered in training camp last summer.

Coxson was signed as an UDFA out of Stony Brook by the Packers but suffered a Grade 3 concussion on the third day of camp and hung up his cleats when Week 1 rolled around. He's sought help from the NFL, but to this point hasn't received any. It may not be mainstream news, but it should be, and it's another case of how turn-the-other-way the league is about brain injuries.


Source: Adrian Coxson on Twitter
 

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I was just reading the article about George Atkinson's possible CTE symptoms. According to the article he's not doing too well and his mood swings are becoming more pronounced. I remember a lot of people used to joke about how he sounded drunk, and a commentator said he knew Atkinson and that Atkinson doesn't drink. Wonder if that slurred speech was an early symptom.
Rock climbing is only dangerous if you fall, where as the result is typically death. So, dementia wouldn't be a concern. You are going to take repeated hits to the head playing football.

Same with skydiving. It's only issue if the parachute doesn't work, which in that case, you're dead anyway.

Fighting fires. Pretty much the same thing. Whatever could cause some sort of dementia like CTE would likely kill them. Roof falling on them, etc. Smoke inhalation and some sort of lung damage is probably a more common issue with former firefighters.

Chasing criminals...again, how often do police take hits to the noggin? Typically if they do, and it's hard enough to give them a concussion, they get an extended paid leave and maybe an early retirement.

We're talking about a profession where participants receive one blow to the head after another and will likely get several concussions.
Just a guess...but don't be shocked if they start doing post-mortem cte tests on people who never played football and find out it is waaaay more common than anyone thought. Stabler had it and really...how many times was his head slammed to the ground behind that line? Not too often. I know he was sacked enough times to make it plausible he might have some damage and not saying football isn't dangerous...just sayin i'm interested to see the results of cte testing of non-football athletes.
 

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