A Quick Thought On CTE

I don’t think we have seen anywhere near the full picture of the consequences of a link between playing football and CTE yet. Sure, some players have ended their careers early and cited CTE as at least playing a part in their decision to walk away, but those players have no idea if they have the disease and they won’t know until after they die because scientists can still only test for the disease in a deceased person. You wanna know what could really change football forever? The day that scientists figure out how to test whether or not a player has CTE while they are still playing football.

Believe me when I tell you that I understand. I understand that the picture I chose to include with this article is beautiful. I understand that the same picture is also viscous and visceral and devastating…and that’s why it is beautiful. It represents what football players risk every time they step on the field. They put their health at serious risk to entertain us and they get paid exceptionally well to do so.

One of those serious health risks, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, wasn’t even connected in any way to the game of football until 2005, but since then CTE has become one of the biggest ongoing stories for America’s most popular game. Some have said that CTE threatens the future of football itself. The recent Boston University study that found CTE in 110 of 111 former NFL players brains has thrust the disease, which has been referred to as the ‘NFL’s boogeyman’, back into the spotlight.

Trying to argue that football and CTE are not related is becoming harder and harder to do for those who still believe that a link doesn’t exist. I am not one of those. I am a football fan though. I want to see the game continue to thrive and if that is going to happen then football can’t ignore the real implications that playing football has when it comes to players long term health.

We still know so little about CTE, but the little we know is enough to make at least some players wary about continuing to play. What happens when a test is designed for CTE in a living player? What happens when we have a better idea of when the disease starts and how it progresses? What happens when the science gets to a point where a player might be able to take a test in the middle of the season and know that three days ago he didn’t have CTE and now he does?

Maybe most players would feel the way that New York Jets safety Jamal Adams said he feels about CTE. When asked about the disease and player safety at a fan forum on Monday, Adams responded, “Literally if I had the perfect place to die. I’d die on the field.” I still think the vast majority of players would feel that way even if they knew that they had the disease, but there is not anyway to be sure until we actually get to a point where they CAN know that they have the disease.

What happens when a player can’t assume that it is someone else’s problem? When they can no longer hear stats guessing that up to ten percent of NFL players have CTE and assume that they are part of the ninety percent? It’s not the only factor. As we learn more we can make the game safer and learn at what age kids should start playing the game to reduce the risk of CTE. However, I think a test for CTE in a living brain is the next truly game changing domino to fall.

 

 

Tim Tebow is A Met

Tebow is signing with the Mets and once again I’m watching the two sides of the Tebow dividing line fly to the extreme sides that sports most polarizing figures have always pushed fans to take. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in the middle.

To say that it is offensive for Tim to play baseball is taking it too far. The guy loves to play sports and is still young enough to play them at a high level. Is he going to succeed playing baseball? I have no idea, but I’m not mad at him for trying.

If you think Tim Tebow playing baseball is a joke then you should direct your anger at the Mets for signing him. I don’t remember this kind of anger directed at Michael Jordan for ‘taking someone’s spot’ with the White Sox organization. Jordan packed stadiums everywhere he went on his baseball tour and that’s why he was in the organization…playing double A baseball…badly. The Mets to this point are going to have Tim playing in their Instructional League. Time will tell if Tim gets beyond that. I know if I were the Mets I would have him up just for the gate. That’s the honest truth.

You can also direct your anger at ESPN who tweeted out Tebow alongside other great two sport stars like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders. That’s a joke, and it’s something worth getting upset about. Jackson was one of the best baseball and football players at the same time. Sanders is a hall of fame football player and was good enough to play major league baseball. Tebow flashed for a season in Denver and has accomplished nothing in football since, and just signed to play in an instructional league. Tim, as far I know, doesn’t ask to be portrayed in that kind of light. He just is. Why? Because he’s Tim Tebow and his name alone draws attention from those who support and hate him.

Tim has never struck me as anything other than a likeable, earnest guy. He is a lightning rod for controversy that has nothing to do with anything other than a guy being likeable and earnest and people thinking he isn’t good at what he is likeable and earnest doing. It’s really funny when you step back and think about it, and if your opinion on Tebow is too serious to take a step back and chuckle about it…lighten up. It’s not that serious.

Oh and one last thing, baseball doesn’t need Tim Tebow so hush with that nonsense, but Tebow doesn’t need baseball either, which is why I think his interest in playing is earnest.