Sunday, April 21, 2013

What Would Pat Tillman Say About Concussions?

Originallly published April/2012:

The NFL is in a precarious situation now from former players accusing the NFL of not appropriately addressing the dangers of concussions.  The data is not on the NFL's side and it is looking more and more like a class-action lawsuit will eventually be tried in the courts.

Something will have to get settled along the way and it could be a huge one in favor of the former players.

It is looking more and more like this lawsuit will be similar to ones from years ago against cigarette manufacturers, who ended up having to attach labels describing cigarettes as 'hazardous to your health' and 'causes cancer.'

Ultimately, it is likely that future generations of players will be warned prior to signing any contracts of the dangers of the game to their health.

Could the law end up bringing down America's number one sport?

Probably not because there will be enough financially strapped males to sign off on the dangers in order to try and reap the unusually high wages that the NFL offers.

If the sport takes a big enough hit in the courts, though, the game may look different in the near future.

It may be that helmets and the playing surface need to go retro to save the game.  Both have developed into incongruous, synthetic materials that are no longer worthy of having a significant part in such a beautiful and exceptional sport.

The sport could go back to its roots and be played on natural grass with leather helmets (and optional goggles).  There wouldn't be anymore unnecessary reverberations to the brain caused by an assemblage of constructed helmet gear traveling down through the body to a cement ground under fake grass and then back from the cement ground through the body another time into the head again.

This is what Pat Tillman might say.  He was one of football's biggest fans as well as one of its most ferocious players.

Tillman, the intellectual that he was, would plead for football to be played as a sporting contest with durability, skill, stamina, anticipation and toughness as its hallmarks, but not violence.  

The artificial surfaces combined with the artificial helmet are a needless combination for this incredibly engaging and athletic sport.

Monday marks the eight-year anniversary of his unfortunate death due to an absurdly 'friendly-fire' episode high and deep in the mountains of Afghanistan.  Tillman had only just started his front-lines tour of duty.  It was 2 weeks after arriving that the tragedy occurred.

Afghanistan was Tillman's second tour, after serving one other in Iraq.

There has been a tremendous amount of material written and examined about the life of Tillman.  His life on the field and off has been analyzed in books, in the press and by Congress.

It may seem that there is nothing left to say about this great man who did the unthinkable, giving up millions of dollars to fight forces of Saddam, al-Qaeda and the Taliban for the security and future well-being of the United States.

His football exploits have been recognized many times over in video tributes, statues and being elected to the College Football Hall Of Fame.  But, had he survived, what he would have said about football's present quandary would have mattered.

After all, had he survived, due to what he gave up and the courage he gave, all subjects would have been listened to for his opinion.  He may be the only known person to volunteer to give up millions of dollars to fight the wars, other than Osama bin Laden.

The way Tillman played football, he probably was going to suffer from concussions in a similar manner to what Jim McMahon and others are showing to be going through.  So, in some ways, his premature death saved him from those agonizing moments.


  1. too bad for an injury.

  2. In a competitive sport like football, injury is inevitable. Athletes should be able to adapt easily to the different aspects of the game like the artificial grass field.

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  4. Tillman would have said that if you worked all your life, sacrificed and trained like a madman to get to the NFL, had a career, made millions of dollars playing a game that even the casual observer can see is clearly violent and dangerous, then to turn around and sue? That makes you a Hypocrite an Ingrate and a Pussy beyond belief. That's what Tillman would say.