The family of Junior Seau has sued the NFL, claiming the former linebacker's suicide was the result of brain disease caused by violent hits he sustained while playing football.
The wrongful death lawsuit, filed Wednesday in California Superior Court in San Diego, blames the NFL for its "acts or omissions" that hid the dangers of repetitive blows to the head. It says Seau developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from those hits, and accuses the NFL of deliberately ignoring and concealing evidence of the risks associated with traumatic brain injuries.
Seau died at age 43 of a self-inflicted gunshot in May. He was diagnosed with CTE, based on posthumous tests, earlier this month.
An Associated Press review in November found that more than 3,800 players have sued the NFL over head injuries in at least 175 cases as the concussion issue has gained attention in recent years. More than 100 of the concussion lawsuits have been brought together before U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody in Philadelphia.
Mr. Seau committed suicide last year, and examinations of his brain later revealed that he was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is caused in part by hits to the head which injure the brain and can cause long term mental health issues, including depression.
There's also reports that at least two groups of former NFL players are now organizing class action lawsuits against the league, seeking compensation and arguing that the league knew the dangers of repeated hits to the head, but looked the other way to protect their business.
While I'm not a lawyer, and am in no place to judge the overall chance of success such claims stand in court, I do feel that there's a good chance that these kind of lawsuits are only a matter of time for hockey and the NHL as well. The deaths of Wade Belak, Rick Rypien, Derek Boogaard, have already brought focus to the potential risks players face- particularly enforcers. While other levels of hockey (the NCAA in particular) have cracked down on fighting, imposing immediate game disqualifications and suspensions for fighting, the NHL continues to make fighting (and the accompanying blows to the head) a part of the game's overall culture.
All of this (and I know it can't avoid stirring up the entire "fighting as an integral part of hockey" debate) leads me to question what the long-term impact will be on the NHL and business of professional hockey. Columnists, pundits, and even former players in the United States have recently (over the past couple years) started to openly question the future of football. They argue that as the risks become more clear, parents will choose to place their children in other, lower risk sports.
On top of this, there are those who argue that professional football and other sports that involve regular hits to the head (i.e., the NHL) currently find themselves in the position "big tobacco" was in during the 70's and 80's- ripe targets for a series of major lawsuits related to "what they knew, and when they knew it."
I love watching hockey. Millions of us do. But, given what I now know about brain injuries, and the long term damage caused by hits to the head, I can't help but cringe everytime I see yet another contrived fight between designated "enforcers." The gloves drop, the officials otherwise tasked with maintaining standards of play stand to the side, and the entire "ritual" unfolds, with two men who might otherwise have no issues with each other hitting each other in the face so that honor can be served.
It might be a part of the game. It might be tradition. But I can't help but wonder, if the damage it is doing to the men who bravely step up to the challenge is eventually going to bring down the rest of the game with it. In an era of expanding scientific knowledge about the brain and increased concern over safety, can the NHL really hope to avoid becoming caught up in potentially business crippling lawsuits?
Many people fight in the military to fight for your freedom many come in a bag or with limbs missing this in america and canada they are heroes.But as a soldier friend of mine who is from Kamloops told me it's their choice and most have no regrets.If you don't want to play physical sports don't play.Go to your public library and you can find many books written in the 1970's and 80's about brain trauma due to sport.It's nothing new COACHES WOULD FORCE YOU TO PLAY HURT THE LATE RICK MARTIN'S CAREER WAS ENDED DUE TO SCOTTY BOWMAN FORCING HIM TO PLAY WITH A BAD KNEE.
I was thinking about starting a similar thread after the results of Seau's brain examination showed signs of CTE. I suspect, if it hasn't been done already, Seau's name will be added to the class action suit pending against the NFL in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
True enforcers have slowly been going the way of the Dodo bird since the 2005 Lockout. That being said, if the NHL rules committee ever decided to eliminate fighting, and by eliminate I mean change the punishment from a simple 5 minute major to something more deterrant, like a game misconduct and automatic 1 game suspension, it'll be to pre-emptively protect themselves from negligence or wrongful death suits.
In hockey, I'm skeptical the brain damage is done mainly by fighting. The force of being checked and your head and neck whiplashed is much, much more than the force from a punch thrown from a guy on skates.
Two guys colliding at full speed does much more damage than a punch.
There's consensus getting punched in the head does some damage. But how much is an open question.
There's some data indicating soccer players suffer mild brain damage from all the headers.
What about the simple act of running? Does that mild shaking and jostling of the head from running do a tiny amount of damage with each jostle? There's so much we don't know.
Most humans lose cognitive functioning with age. This happens to nearly all of us if we live long enough. Any activity that involves rattling your brain seems to accelerate this process. By how much we don't know.
A friend's father got early onset dementia. He was 49. He wasn't an athlete, just a regular guy. What caused that?
If you were going to get dementia at age 70, but played pro sports and got it at age 65 instead -- is that a fair trade-off?
One theory is that the brain trauma destroys neural connections. But like a spider web, the web still functions despite losing some strands.
But the natural aging process destroys neural connections in all of us. For people who've had brain trauma when younger, they don't have the same reserve capacity as a regular person. So when the normal neural loss from aging starts -- and it starts in your 40s I'm sorry to say -- they hit the wall earlier. They hit the point where the brain can't recruit reserve capacity or route around damaged areas earlier than the rest of us and start displaying overt cognitive deficits.
It's a tough problem. Mainly we need a better understanding of the brain and what happens when it suffers mild and moderate trauma. It's increasingly clear that cumulative sub-concussive events can cause serious damage. But what is the limit of sub-concussive? How small of a force can cause damage? We don't know.
But fissures have formed in the once-pristine NFL edifice. More than 2,000 former players are suing the league over head injuries, and what they were and weren't told about the long-term damage of concussions. Junior Seau, among the greatest linebackers in league history, committed suicide last spring and was later found to have a concussion-related brain disease. Seau's family this week filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the league. A study released last week shows signs of an ailment similar to Seau's in five living NFL alumni.
"There's an uneasy feeling around the NFL, because although the league is arguably more popular than it's ever been before, there are also these glaring areas of deep concern about player safety on the field, and the players' health off the field and after their careers are over," said Michael MacCambridge, author of "America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation."
"I'm convinced that the NFL gets it, and is working very hard to make the game safer. But if you're a fan, you have to be concerned about some of the trial balloons that have been floated: an 18-game regular season is not just a bad idea for the people who play the game and watch the game, it's also totally out of step with the cultural mood of the moment. You want to believe that the owners are guided not only by revenue figures but also the greater good of the game."
Therefore, Roger Goodell, a commissioner who somehow almost makes Gary Bettman seem likable, goes out and talks at length about the NFL's concussion problem during his annual State of the League address, but anyone paying the slightest attention sees that it's all lip service. Nothing he has to say, or will force the league to do, actually does anything to change the culture that lends itself so readily to the problem. Hall of Famers like Deion Sanders saying that guys who get concussions are just milking it to keep drawing a paycheck just underscores the horrible problem the league has with how it views injuries in general. That the horrific Dan Le Batard story of Jason Taylor just about dying, and playing with a catheter so as not to miss a single game, didn't scare anyone into action tells you everything you need to know about the problem, and the NFL's myopic approach to the issue — which is to say, not doing anything — is troubling to say the least.
Again, the NFL isn't doing anything now, but it's at least getting some wheels in motion on the matter. Over the weekend, it announced a partnership with General Electric to develop ways to better protect against concussions, and detect whether they've occurred. Part of that includes contributions of $50 million over the next four years. In addition, the NFLPA finally pushed through its efforts to have independent neurologists present on sidelines during games to better assess whether players have suffered concussions during play; this after a PA survey found that 78 percent of NFLers trust their teams' medical staff "not at all," and only 43 percent consider their trainers to be "good."
So what does all this have to do with the NHL? It only scores to underscore how little the League is doing with regard to the rash of head injuries now being suffered league-wide, and to change the culture surrounding it.
The mandatory postinjury sideline concussion assessment tool, instituted for the 2012 season along with a baseline test done during physicals at the start of preseason, will now be used in app form by all 32 teams, a method that was tried by a handful of teams in a pilot program last season. The hope is that being able to compare the results of a baseline test and a postinjury test side by side in real time will speed diagnosis and help doctors and trainers recognize when a player should be removed from a game. The league also plans to have independent neurological consultants on the sideline during each game to assist the team physician in diagnosing and treating players.
The players union, which had pushed strongly for independent doctors to be on the sideline, said it was encouraged by the technological advance the new test represented, but it still had questions about how much power the independent consultants would have to make decisions about players. The union wants the independent sideline concussion experts to have almost exclusive authority in detecting concussions and administering tests, in part because it believes team doctors are often busy attending to other injured players, while the concussion experts are there for one reason.
The postinjury test is quick — it takes about six to eight minutes — and shares many elements with the baseline test to allow a comparison that might indicate a decline in function. Both include a section on the players’ concussion history and a 24-symptom checklist; players are asked to score themselves on a scale of 1 to 6 in categories like dizziness, confusion, irritability and sleep problems. Both note any abnormal pupil reaction or neck pain. There is a balance test and a concentration test, in which players, who are usually brought to the locker room to be evaluated, are asked to say the months of the year in reverse order, to recite a string of numbers backward and to remember a collection of words three times. Then they are asked to recall them again, without warning, at least five minutes later. The words and sequence of numbers may be changed from test to test, so players cannot memorize them from a previous test to mask concussion symptoms — a fact that has annoyed players, according to Dr. Margot Putukian, the director of athletic medicine at Princeton University Health Services and a member of the N.F.L.’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee.
On the postinjury tests, there is one different element: a series of five questions designed to test orientation and glean how confused a player might be at that moment. They are: Where are we? What quarter is it right now? Who scored last in the practice or game? Did we win the last game? Those questions, known as Maddocks questions, were developed in the 1990s by an Australian doctor who worked with players in Australian rules football.
The tests are far from perfect tools for diagnosing concussions. Some doctors are concerned the N.F.L. tests are trying to reduce concussion evaluation to ticking items off a checklist, a problem Putukian acknowledged, emphasizing the importance of having doctors familiar with the players evaluate them. ...
Last edited by LadyStanley: 02-27-2013 at 04:13 PM.
Something has changed. The broadcast I witnessed today I thought was really emphasizing the violent more physical aspect of hockey. The music was loud and tinny. The entire production felt garish. I watch a hit to the face not get called.
It was a pretty chippy game. Then when you get a comment like: "he bounced back wonderfully" it made me think of a rubber toy. This doesn't feel like the same hockey.
Touch screen tablet computers have given brain injury patients who have trouble speaking new ways to communicate at a fraction of the cost of speech synthesis equipment common just a few years ago.
The many medical uses of iPads and other tablet computers were showcased before some of the top brain experts in the nation, who gathered Friday for the Third Annual Santa Clara Valley Brain Injury Conference.
For the first time in over 15 years, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has issued a revision to their standard guidelines for sports-related concussions. Despite endorsement by the National Football League Players Association, they are not endorsed by North American pro hockey organizations.
It should be noted that while these guidelines were developed by a panel assembled by the AAN and are endorsed by other professional societies as well as the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), they have not yet been endorsed by any professional hockey league or hockey players’ association, including the NHL and the NHLPA, which use their own evolving protocol.
It should also be noted that the new guidelines do not address the disease widely associated with repeated head injury and found in the autopsies of former NHLers Bob Probert, Reggie Fleming and Rick Martin, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). According to review co-author Jeffrey Kutcher, MD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, this is because these are evidence-based guidelines, and CTE is “an anecdotal diagnosis” supported only by case reports at this point.
One thing I will say is the players who turn their backs to opposing players who are coming in for a hit along the boards just to draw a penalty, should get a game misconduct and a suspension, because those are the IDIOTS who get half of the concussions. I have NO sympathy for stupid players who do that and get concussions at any level of the game! This is the play that needs to be eliminated from hockey. It's a cowardly play and a disgrace to the game.