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For the Record

May 14, 2012

On Sunday, the Denver Post published an article and interview I did last week with sports journalist, Terry Frei. Over the course of our conversation which mostly covered the issues of injuries and concussions and the subsequent consequences of the League’s general attitude of denial at all levels. (A link to that article is at the bottom of this post.) At one point in our conversation, I told Terry, “The concussion issue, if not handled right, has the potential to end football.” (My emphasis.) What I did NOT say was that the concussion issue would end football. No sooner than Terry’s article was posted, then the other media and bloggers immediately re-wrote the story and started to misquote me. The worst misquote? NFL.com with this headline: Ex-player Dave Pear says concussion issue could end NFL. Not really what I said at all.
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Most of our readers know that my long battle has always been about legal and open access to OUR earned pension and disability benefits. And any resolution on concussions will need to address three separate groups of players: Past, Present and Future. (By the way, you might remember that this slogan used to be on all our NFLPA membership cards.) Each of the retired players who played will need to have direct access to their benefits that should include testing and treatments from their football-related concussions and brain damage, as well as access to assisted care and monitoring in later years. There is no doubt that most of the earlier players from the 50′s and 60′s were not given the safest equipment during their playing careers. It was even more about the money back then than it is today – just ask the men who played on the original hard surfaces of Astro Turf about the toll it took on their bodies and their heads. All for the savings the owners made from not having to maintain real turf. And they went on strike in the late 50′s and early 60′s not for more money but to make the owners pay for their uniforms and equipment.
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For the present-day players, the addition of independent neurologists on the sidelines certainly helps, along with better-defined rules to ensure that concussed players don’t return to the game unless cleared by experts (no more Dr. No’s). Many of the new rules are a good step in the right direction. Newer treatments such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) are being shown to shorten recovery while helping with healing to the damage that concussions leave behind. Even if owners are more concerned about profits, the ROI on getting a million-dollar-a-year asset back on the field in half the normal time makes pure business sense. And while the League is at it, a great PR move would be to allow retired players free access to these hyperbaric chambers when they’re not being used by the team.
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For future players, any improvements in the rules and knowledge gained from players past and present can only serve to provide them with a much safer game while still preserving the game of football as we know and love it. But if we’re going to save football, players from the past, present and future will need to work together in order to help protect each other first. Current and future players owe the retired players a priceless debt for the sacrifices they paid with their bodies and brains – as well as the long years of denial – to get to this point where there is finally a serious discussion on something that affects us all. The players of the future will surely also benefit from the way the game is shaped for today’s players.
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Ex-NFL player Dave Pear seeks to change league policy on concussions

By Terry Frei.
The controversy and concern over concussions in sports in general and football specifically have caught Dave Pear’s attention.
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The former NFL defensive lineman is one of the most activist ex-players, criticizing the league for not doing more to compensate its disabled veterans. He is a lead plaintiff in one of the major class-action lawsuits filed against the NFL over the concussion issue. His blog is considered influential and militant advocacy for former players.
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“The concussion issue, if not handled right, has the potential to end football,” Pear said from his home near Seattle. “If you look at the history of the game, (John) Heisman saved the game by inventing the forward pass. Now it’s come full circle.”

Read the rest of the article – click HERE.
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9 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. John Hogan
    May 15th, 2012 at 4:20 am #

    John Hogan

    Dave,

    Thanks for setting the record straight. Even if they misquoted you, it is ultimately very helpful that you are bringing attention to the issue.

    In my opinion, had the NFL been straight with players on the effects of concussions from the beginning – and not trying to hide the problem via “Dr. No” coverups – they wouldn’t be facing the problems they are now.

    I also think that if they had been doing “the right thing” with regard to health insurance, their disability plan and pensions, they would not be facing the lawsuits of more than 2,000 retired players.

    John Hogan
    Disability Attorney
    Retired Player Advocate

  2. Gregg Bingham
    May 15th, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    Gregg Bingham

    For 50 years now, I’ve experienced a consistent “hijacking” of the actual intent of my words by simply changing an adverb here or adjective there by the writer. You can call it hyperbole or hype or whatever you want. That said, we must always “read between the lines” and interpret their intent.

    And Dave – You tell it like it is and those whose “elevator goes to the top” DO get your point as it was well said!

    Keep pounding the table!

    Gregg Bingham
    Houston Oilers
    1973 – 1984

  3. henrietta watson
    May 15th, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Sid Watson

    Dave,

    You know you’re right when those who oppose you misquote you.

    Why they choose to do this is interesting. What’s their agenda?!!

    Henrietta Watson
    widow Sid Watson (1932 – 2004)
    Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins
    1955 – 1958

  4. Rick Hayes
    May 15th, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Rick Hayes

    The NFL’s New York public relations office conquest of America’s sports writers are in effect. Obviously excluding Evan Weiner and a select few others!

    Aloha,
    Rick Hayes
    L.A. Rams 1974
    UW Huskies 1969-1973
    UW Huskies

  5. Brian J. Nemeth
    May 15th, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Brian Nemeth

    I have submitted several times but no answer. I have two paid seasons. I was injured with paralysis of my left leg. Can I even vote with you guys or do you disown me too? I am getting operated 4 times to regain use of my left leg.

    I am sick of hearing about concussions. I had several – so what!

    Can you at least respond? I am not vested. Do not dump me too.

    Brian J. Nemeth
    1976 draft from South Carolina
    to San Francisco 49ers – so what!!!

  6. Thane Gash
    May 15th, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    Thane Gash

    Dave,

    I declined the new CTE Detect Study being offered. I’m not interested in having my spine tapped! Maybe the current players will submit for those kinds of studies.

    I had a C7 T1 neck bone fusion in 1991 while playing for the Browns. They refused to let me take part without my permission to the tap then.

    I wonder if any other headhunters were declined???

    Thane Gash
    Cleveland Browns 1988 – 1991
    San Francisco 49er’s 1992 – 1993

  7. Henry Bradley
    May 16th, 2012 at 2:52 am #

    Henry Bradley

    Brian -

    I am sorry to hear about your situation. I have a brother who is feeling the same way. I hear your pain and hurt that comes from both groups. I pray for you to be strong and know that I stand with you.

    Peace be with you and encourage someone else today.

    Henry Bradley
    Cleveland Browns
    1979 – 1983

  8. Karen Noble
    May 16th, 2012 at 6:23 am #

    All of you players that who quick to sign up for this class action lawsuit against the NFL better consider how much you will have to split up amongst yourselves vs. how much the attorneys will get for themselves and their law firm. Take a look at the Reggie White class action lawsuit and how little the players received vs. the attorneys.

    Why is a judge placing all litigants in class action status? Does he or she really think that class action is best solution for the players with regard to compensatory or punitive damages or does he just not want to hear the cases due to an overabundance of work for the courts? Players need to require that a fund be set up similar to the fund set up for the victims of 9/11 and not let any law firm get rich off the pain and suffering of players who were not made aware of the risk of football. This can be done before players allow any of the law firm(s) to go to court; instead, have them first negotiate terms of the fund and how much will be distributed to each player. Lastly, remember that you may usually have to sign away your future right to sue for anything pertaining to your injuries, so be certain that you receive enough to take care of yourselves for the future.

    Don’t let lawyers use up your dollars in litigation.

    Karen Noble

  9. Brian J. Nemeth
    May 17th, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    Brian Nemeth

    Henry,

    Thanks for the response. It’s the first time I actually conversed with anyone about us! We’re pretty good about sucking it up!

    Our wives must saints but I will not let mine work herself to death for my care. It has been going on for a while now. My stainless rods slipped and almost severed my spine. In 2002, I had them removed by a 49er surgeon and I almost died – literally – but it took two years to walk again. I can’t wait for my fourth. Thank God for Workers Comp. I understand the NFL owners supposedly put an estimated $1 billion a year on the Workers Comp system! How can a private business dump us all on a government system. Who allows it??? Anyway, they have been trying to disqualify me for years but I always fight it. I had one of the first lumbar fusions back in the late seventies and I’ve developed some pretty nasty diseases from it that aren’t even documented.

    Maybe we should have a blog where everyone can list injuries, surgeries, meds etc. so we can learn from each other because there’s no other way of obtaining info. Maybe Dave can set up a comment section about our treatment. It could help all of us!

    Brian J. Nemeth
    1976 draft from South Carolina
    to San Francisco 49ers – so what!!!

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