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NFL Scouting Combine, hypertension, and morbid obesity: Football is a tough career

It has to happen, and will academics or athletics win?

Football is a brutal game with some terrible consequences at the non-NFL level.

According to football researcher Matt Chaney, who writes, there were 29 football related fatalities along with another 193 which fall into a category that Chaney calls "survivor casualties". A good many of the 222 incidents that Chaney wrote about occurred on the high school level. Taxpayers pay for student-athlete insurance as part of a school budget. At what point does football become not worth it for junior high and senior high schools?

In 1905, when people who didn't like football were calling for the sport's demise, there were 23 deaths. In a 106 year period, football has not become any safer.

Congress wants the National Football League and the National Football League Players Association to come up with a human growth hormone testing procedure. Politicians are more interested in catching cheaters using illegal substances than the safety of football from youth leagues up.

Football is a tough way of life. Shilstone's concerns about hypertension and morbid obesity in 2003 seem to have not gained any real traction in a public discourse but they are real concerns. The concussion/dementia issue is gaining traction and the NFL will vigorously defend the football world at trial.

But meanwhile life goes on. I take a pill a day which isn't bad and workout. A lot of my 55-year-old contemporaries who played in the NFL would trade places in a minute but I would not trade places with them. I know the stories about memory loss, families being torn apart by the injuries suffered on the field, the poor medical treatment and mentality to get a player back in the game as soon as possible and depression from football battles. The surgeries to fix broken bodies and the wives who try and take care of busted up ex-jocks. I know of their fight for health and pension benefits from the National Football League and how their players association never looked ahead and demanded "Money Now" in labor disputes instead of down the road medical care. And I know many of them have no insurance and are dependent on the government safety net or SSI and Medicare.

That is the carnage of maybe the collateral damage of football.

Football junkies will be enthralled with a bunch of guys running around in T-shirts and shorts listening to carefully choreographed sound bites or watching video streams of Indianapolis scouting combine action. Then those same junkies will start to look forward to the NFL Draft which is really an illegal restraint of trade but is allowed because of the collective bargaining agreement between the owners and players.

You do kind of wonder if all of the NFL wannabe’s know what they are getting into and if they are getting the right information about their career choice in what is a high paying, hazardous field that could shorten their lives, give them brain damage, leave them with permanent injuries that will require later in life surgeries, not to mention in some cases the hypertension problems and the morbid obesity of some.

This is football from the Pop Warner level to the NFL.

Evan Weiner, the winner of the United States Sports Academy's 2010 Ronald Reagan Media Award, is an author, radio-TV commentator and speaker on "The Politics of Sports Business." His book, "The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition" is available at and Amazon and featured on Google books.


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Comments (1)
1 Wednesday, 22 February 2012 15:45
George Visger
George Visger’s ‘OUT OF MY HEAD: My Life In and Out of Football’ Is Third Title in Concussion Inc. Ebook Series
Published January 30th, 2012

The Concussion Inc. ebook imprint is proud to announce the publication of OUT OF MY HEAD: My Life In and Out of Football by George Visger.

Visger’s autobiography is one of the most amazing stories of the triumph of the human spirit in the annals of football, concussions, or any walk of life. A defensive lineman on the San Francisco 49ers’ first Super Bowl champions in 1981-82, Visger has lived with a shunt in his brain ever since — a consequence of the many concussions he sustained during his pee-wee, high school (Alonzo Stagg High in Stockton, California), college (Colorado), and National Football League career. Yet despite suffering from “water on the brain” and impaired short-term memory, he became a wildlife biologist, a prominent figure in the fight for fair treatment of retired players by the $10-billion-a-year NFL, and an advocate of the American football concussion crisis at all levels.

As a journalist writing about sports and society, I have met many interesting people, some of them prominent or famous. It is a rare privilege to know and work with a great humanitarian, and that is the best description of George Visger. OUT OF MY HEAD includes anecdotes about how all-pro tackle Joe Klecko terrorized the 1980 New York Jets training camp, and how legendary 49ers coach Bill Walsh’s management of an emerging dynasty included the employment of a malpracticing team doctor. But my favorite passages demonstrate Visger’s big heart and project his awareness of a world larger than sports. When, on Christmas Eve in 1980, he spontaneously handed out $50 in meal money to ten homeless people in his hometown of Stockton, his family and community were inspired to mobilize for an annual event feeding and clothing up to 300 needy street people. Visger’s professional life has ranged from bar bouncer to inner-city school teacher, and his accomplishments, as well as his struggles and his tenacity throughout them, have touched thousands.

OUT OF MY HEAD: My Life In and Out of Football is available on Amazon Kindle for $2.99 at this link: If you do not have a Kindle or a Kindle app on another device, you can order a plain PDF file of the ebook by sending $2.99 via PayPal to

The Visger book is the third title of the Concussion Inc. ebook series. The first, DUERSON, was published in November 2011. The second, UPMC: Concussion Scandal Ground Zero, was published in January 2012. For complete information on Concussion Inc. ebooks, go to

Irv Muchnick

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