League of Denial: The NFL's Concussian Crisis

At this moment the above two hour special is being broadcast. It will be available for the rest of the week. Also, there will be other football stuff. For example, there will be one session on the pressure on high school football players in the USA. These will be broadcast at differing times during this week. Following this week I believe this stuff can be accessed by your computer

details : pbs.org/frontline

I viewed the documentary last evening and will watch it again today

This, fellow football fans, might indeed put a damper on how the game is played in the future. At the the very least, we may see some significant changes in equipment, helmets in the main.


Espérons pour les joueurs que ce documentaire aura plus d'impact que les procédures judiciaires en ont eues.

J'écoutais Étienne Boulay ce matin sur le sujet, et il parlait de ce qui se passe alors dans la tête d'un joueur. Il parlait des angoisses, de la dépression, comment la crainte de voir son poste perdu au prfit d'un autre joueur le poussait à ne pas dire toute la vérité aux médecins pour revenir sur le terrain le plus vite possible.

Lorsqu'on regarde comment les choses se sont terminées pour Boulay (retrait de l'alignement, fin de carrière à Toronto dans un rôle très limité, divorce difficile, après-carrière modeste dans les média), il est difficile d'imaginer la pression que cette situation crée pour revenir sur le terrain. Pour plusieurs d'entre eux, c'est un cauchemar non seulement de par la blessure elle-même mais aussi à cause de tout ce qui est en jeu pour eux.

Dire que certains reprochent à Calvillo de ne pas être sur les lignes de côté.

Just for you Niagara...


This morning on TSN 690, Darren Gill without really going into details said he is making sure to give all his support to his client Andrew Woodruff who is out for the rest of the season and whose future is possibly uncertain.

That’s nasty… Poor kid.

Terrible to see this young man essentially losing an entire season to concussion. I hope Andrew is able to make a full recovery, regardless of whether he remains an Alouette or not...

As the documentary indicates. " the human head is not made for football ". Translate this to hockey and, I know of a couple of NHL team enforcers, who suffered lasting brain injury from the many fights they endured. Its time for the NHL to forbid fighting. I saw Gary Betman last week on TV who clearly believes hockey belongs in the pro game. The NHL officials still stupidly retain fighting as a pert of their program. These enforcers are paid to fight, just as boxers re also paid to fight- this has already put premier NHL players out of the sport. I agree with jkm that there will likely be a growing need for new rules and better equipment in these violent sports.

This is a football forum, so I won't dwell on hockey, but in light of last night's troubling documentary, I will make this one comment on the NHL.

I stopped watching the NHL years ago precisely because of fighting and those who insist "it's part of the game". So-called "enforcers" are really nothing but goons, and fighting reduces the sport to hooliganism. What I admire in sports is athleticism, skill, teamwork, strategy... Fighting is inelegant and flies in the face of all of the above. A cheap shot almost took out the NHL's star - Sid the Kid. I believe it was King Clancy who coined the infamous phrase "if you can't beat 'em in the alley, you can't beat 'em on the ice". I couldn't disagree more.

We all enjoyed Crosby scoring the spectacular goal which gave us the gold medal, we all enjoyed Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, Bernie Geoffrion, Guy Lafleur... The goons will never be in the HOF. In other team sports like football, fighting is penalized and the participants ejected, as it should be. I watch the Juniors at Christmas because I can enjoy skill and raw talent - no fighting! Hello - NHL - are you listening?

Last night's documentary focused on head trauma in football. Can you just imagine the damage caused by boxing, fighting...?

So, I vote for no fighting in the NHL. Now, back to football and I hope for a big W on Monday.

The Toronto Star, letters to ed, have been getting letters lately re our distaste for fighting in hockey. I'm sure additional letters to editor would be welcomed.

With sorrow I just learned that Etienne Boulay and Woodruff have been victimized with s concussions. Like yourselves, I do hope they have a good and, lasting recovery. Both have given outstanding service to our football community!


I applaud you for a very well articulated piece of writing. :thup: I agree whole heartedly with everything you have said! I loathe the fights I see but lets face it works the crowd up into a frothing foaming feeding frenzy. It really is no different than seeing the local school yard bully square off with his victim while everyone else gathers around picking sides. The crowd WANTS to see blood. It is so hypocritical. No one wants to see someone killed with punch or a head smashing onto the ice after being knocked out but most everyone revels in seeing a guy's face pummelled with blood oozing down his face. There is something barbaric about it all and what's worse, the promoters of hockey have no conscience when it comes to cashing in on this kind of "entertainment". They try to justify by saying "it is part of hockey."
Interestingly I was just telling my wife the other night that one of the things that has really turned me off about hockey is the fighting. Fighting is NOT part of the game of hockey. If it had to be it would be at the International level and in the Olympics. It is not and yet we have been treated to some sensational and very entertaining hockey at those venues.

It blows me away how much apparent concern there appears to be about players getting injured and yet the league allows to guys to drop their gloves and with malicious intent try to knock the other out senseless. Insane! Thank goodness players in the NFL and CFL rarely get into the same kinds of scraps that we see in the NHL.

As far as concussions in the CFL and NFL are concerned I don't know if the NFL is denial or the CFL for that matter. I do know that a player's head can only take so much pounding. Whatever can be done to minimize this type of serious injury needs to be done.

Someone once said that some of the serious shoulder injuries NHL players suffer is ironically due to the high tech body/shoulder armour the players are wearing that is meant to avoid such injuries. While such "padding" was suppose to reduce the potential of serious injury, wearing such gear has actually aggravated the problem leading to even more serious injuries because it encourages players to crash into other players even harder. A parallel to this would be the high tech helmets football players wear. In the NFL and CFL the helmets are as high tech as they can be and yet by wearing such protection it encourages the players to continue to use their bodies as missiles with the head being the top of the missile.

[i]The human head is not made for football. Johnny agrees. Hockey, it ain't made for a species that walks upright... When hockey players talk, it sounds like they have had a major concussion, even if they never had one! These guys are dumb. They look and sound sub human. The dumbest athletes are hockey players. How can anyone look up to those cavemen? (Sorry to insult all of the real cavemen who died long ago...).

Hockey attracts a certain kind of primitive sub human. Did any of yous see Patrick Roy's first game as a head coach in the NHL? He was fined for acting like a lunatic. Just being himself it seems...

Football is very tough, but you rarely see cheap shots. You also never see a player throw the ball at another player's head. Hockey stick to the face: yup! Hockey stick smashed on some guys head: yup! It happens frequently. Two guys fight like animals and punch each other till you see blood; a crime if done on the street. Cool and fun if done on a hockey rink...

Hockey, big :thdn: :thdn: :thdn: :thdn: [/i]

You guys are smokin! :cowboy: The NHL is an embarrassment. When I hear that hockey is Canada's game, I don't exactly feel proud.

Correction on my earlier post. It was Conn Smythe who made that infamous quote. Ironically, the Conn Smythe trophy is awarded to the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Well, Conn, how many goons won that award - hmmmm?

Il faut un diplôme universitaire pour jouer au football. T’es pas obligé de finir ton secondaire pour jouer au hockey.

Dans le cas de la NFL, le titre du documentaire est bien choisi. C’est un état de déni.

La LCF a admis le problème et a changé ses protocoles médicaux. Ça ne vaut pas dire que tout est parfait, mais la LCF a pris le problème par le bon bout.

Cela dit, ce que Boulay a révélé est plus inquiétant. C’est le joueur qui veut retourner trop tôt. Il va mentir aux médecins pour retourner trop tôt. Peut-être que dans l’évaluation des joueurs en convalescence, l’entourage de ces derniers devrait aussi être impliqué, histoire de valider les réponses du joueur? Chose certaine, j’ai l’impression que les protocoles de réintégration des joueurs ayant subi ces blessures n’en sont qu’à leurs balbutiements.

I continue to believe that the primary causes of all the injuries in today's sports (whether football or hockey) are overspecialization and large rosters. Advances in training have allowed today's players to become hulking, lethal physical specimens who can inflict a lot of harm even in incidental contact. But what allows them to be these hulks? The fact that rosters are so large and there is a specialty player for every position. The long-snapper, the dimeback, the rush end, the fullback, the h-back, etc. Players don't have to worry about cardio; they can just concentrate on becoming the physical exemplar of their particular position. They gear their bodies to do one thing and overspecialize.

Force football players to play on both sides of the ball, as they did in the old days, and reduce rosters, and watch all these concussions and shoulder injuries disappear as players are FORCED to slim down and improve their cardio to play the game. No longer will O-linemen be able to tip the scales at 300 or 350 lbs, because that same O-lineman would have to line up as a defensive end on the other side of the ball and be part of a pass rush.

Similarly, in hockey, with 12 forwards and 6 defensemen, players can bulk up and concentrate mostly on interval training -- intense performance in short bursts (40-second shifts). Decades ago, when you had 9 forwards and 4 d-men, the game was slower, because players needed to pace themselves for bigger minutes every night. And you saw what separated the men from the boys when a Guy Lafleur would score a late-game goal by taking advantage of the other team's fatigue.

It's become a ridiculous game, not just because of injuries, but because the number of players on a team far out-strips the number of stars on given team. Pro sports need to be marketed around stars, the best of the best, not the frackin second-string linebacker coming in on pass plays or the fourth line playing "energy" minutes to give the stars a breather. I want to see the best athletes on the field or ice as much as possible. That's where basketball and soccer have it right IMO.

What you say is true, Lestaf. However, every athlete has to have a bit of fierceness. Boulay stated that a professional athlete is highly competitive, and worries about being replaced by another player.

Sadly, a career in sports is normally a short career. Athletes who endure for 15 years or more are the exception, not the rule. The possibility of a career-ending injury is always the sword of Damocles hovering above a professional athlete. While I think that professional sports salaries are utterly ridiculous, I can understand an athlete and his agent negotiating for the best salary because the athlete cannot count on longevity in his chosen sport.

The dilemma with injured athletes also extends to the ownership and coaching staff. For the coaches to retain their job, they must field a team with players that give them the best shot of winning. For owners, a winning team means continued revenue. So, this is the Gordian Knot where sports are concerned. How do you strike a balance with giving sufficient time to recover from a serious injury while fielding a competitive (and winning) team?

While the NFL (and to some extent the CFL) may have deliberately downplayed the seriousness of concussions, there has at least been a necessary first step in appreciating what concussions are. Sadly, this cost the NFL $675M. There could be further lawsuits down the road. At the very least, researchers should develop better helmets to help reduce the incidents of trauma to the head. As a football fan, I certainly hope that I can continue to enjoy my favourite sport while ensuring better safety to the players.

Voilà une réflexion qui a beaucoup de mérite. Il faudra beaucoup de courage à ces organisations pour l'admettre et retourner en arrière. On ne risque pas de voir ça de notre vivant.

Oh, I agree, LeStaf, it'll never happen for 100 reasons, one of which is the unions will never agree to fewer jobs (i.e. smaller rosters). But IMO we need to be honest about all the factors surrounding concussions and other injuries. It's not just equipment, player recklessness, or the speed of the game.