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Is high school football an endangered species?

football100711_optBY EVAN WEINER
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY

It is that time of the year when school boards have to get budgets in place for the new school calendar and the 2012-13 school year. The people who do the budgets and the people who vote on the budgets probably aren't too worried about the 2012 high school football season, but there will come a time when school districts will have to evaluate the value of fielding junior high and high school football teams.

There is evidence that football is causing major health problems for former players later on in life. Some National Football League players have been quite vocal about post-career problems, which include depression, thoughts of suicide, family problems, bankruptcy, homelessness and for some, like Dave Duerson and Junior Seau, suicide.

Following Seau's death, a few former players went public with their post football plight on Dave Pear's blog. Pear has been fighting for years for the NFL to get medical benefits to pay for the injuries he says he suffered during his career. The injuries were numerous.

The comments should be noted by school boards and others with a passing interest in watching football whether it is Friday night high school contests or Monday Night Football featuring two NFL teams.

One-time Pittsburgh Steelers player Reggie Harrison, now known as Kamal Ali Salaam-El wrote, "Since we don’t have a crystal ball, we may never know what was going through Junior Seau’s mind. I have yet to entertain the thought of taking my life, but I can relate to the pain that a lot of us are going through. I take 10 methadone, 4 oxycodone and 2 ml of liquid oxycodone daily, and sometimes the pain still overtakes me. I just pray that I can hold on and lean on my fellow alumni if I feel that I can’t go on. My heart goes out to Junior and his family and I hope he has found Peace. I sure haven’t found it."

Former Los Angeles Rams player Rick Hayes responded to the former Steelers by writing, "Kamal, I believe we played against each other in the L.A. Coliseum during our Rookie Year in 1974 Pre-Season. I, too, have been in pain today following the news of Junior Seau, and I find myself wondering about the possibility of CTE being the cause. For the last month, I have missed two Brain Scans and MRIs because of fear and pain. Several months ago, I finally detoxed from a daily dose of over 1000 mg of oxycodone via the Subuxone method. I think of suicide almost daily. There were other pills too. I feel much better now but still question the pain and sleep disturbances.

In your note, I found the realization that these medications treat and cover our emotional traumas as much as our physical pain. And eventually, they stop working due to our Opioid Tolerance. I wish you, our fellow Former Players, and myself, a path through all this confusion. We are all one, but unfortunately the NFLPA is failing in providing us guidance and assistance. They are aware of our PAIN and ADDICTIONS. Now they are having SUICIDES thrown in their faces. When will they act truthfully and completely? The BLOOD is on the OWNERS and NFLPA’s hands."



 
Comments (1)
1 Friday, 11 May 2012 10:52
Bill Price
Health issues surrounding former NFL players are in the news right now because of player visibility in the media.The real issue surrounding the future of football lies in the origin of the brain injuries themselves. Catastrophic injury is not that common, however brain injury doesn't have to be catastrophic to cause all of the problems that we're hearing about later in life. Because these injuries are not always noticeable when they occur, and because the effects are cumulative over time, the future of football could very well be in jeopardy.

Young people are more susceptible to brain injuries than adults because the brain and the protective tissues around it are not fully formed. Thus, even mild injuries to youth players can start the long-term process of degeneration.

As Mr. Weiner has noted this is an issue that will likely be settled by the insurance companies.

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