Friday, January 20, 2017

The casualty list grows

And now a new dispatch from the darkened backstage of our great national spectacle, pro football, where the NFL has allegedly gotten religion on the human destruction that is the game's most notorious byproduct.

Remember Mark Gastineau?

Not so very long from now, he won't.

In a rambling interview, the flamboyant Jets pass rusher from the 1980s revealed he's suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. He is 60 years old. And he lays it squarely at the feet of his NFL career, when he famously, and constantly, led with his head, unaware he was turning his brain  into squash doing so.

Concussions in his time were just something you rubbed dirt on and got back out there if it happened, after all. And they continued to be long after there was substantial evidence that repeated concussions were causing early-onset brain damage in former players -- because the NFL consistently denied that evidence, even when it was produced by the league's own studies.

Belatedly, the NFL finally did initiate some concussion protocols, and instituted stiff fines for helmet-to-helmet hits. And yet those protocols seem remarkably elastic. The playoffs have already produced several instances in which players took wicked shots to the head -- and then were sent right back into the game, sometimes having missed only a play.

Meanwhile, the leader of the New York Sack Exchange has become sad object lesson of the consequences of that.

The carnage goes on. Unabated.

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