EDITOR’S NOTE:Fourth & Goal’s Bruce Laird sent in his comments and observations after reading the recent ESPN article from last Friday, Mixed Messages on Brain Injuries.(Click HERE to read the post that includes a link to the article.)Bruce and Sam Havrilak were also unceremoniously kicked out of the Baltimore chapter of the NFLPA for their outspoken and proactive activities for retired players. Here are some comments and observations from Bruce:
Concussion coverage continues to take center stage in mid-season as ESPN keeps digging deeper into the contradictory position the League continued to take on the long-term damages of brain injuries from a career in football. Mark Fainaru-Wada reports on the findings of a joint ESPN Outside the Lines and PBS Frontline investigation. Dave’s concussion lawsuit attorney Jason Luckasevic was part of a discussion panel with ESPN’s Outside the Lines this past Friday – here’s the audio: .
. And here’s an earlier OTL video from back in February 2012 with background on the growing concussion lawsuits being filed: .
. Then there’s a very recent clip from ESPN discussing the “smoking gun” that could damage the NFL’s claims of ignorance about concussions even as the Disability Board unanimously approved three disability claims based on concussion injuries suffered by players – all while denying the majority of similar claims by publicly disavowing any connection of long-term damages from concussions and brain injuries. Hall of Famer Mike Webster is the most prominent of those three approved claims with a $1.8 million settlement to his estate after giving the NFL and its Disability Plan a sound beating in the appeals process. .
. And the article from Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada at ESPN: .
Today I was reminded again of the firestorm that followed a single comment I’d made several years ago: “I wish I never played football.” It was an interview I had done with Jeff Pearlman from Sports Illustrated back in December 2009. You can read the full article - clickHERE. ..
At first, I took a lot of heat from many other football players – active and retired – with each of them interpreting my words differently. Never mind the rants from fans and armchair quarterbacks! But over time, I received a lot of support from my fellow retirees who understand all too well what I really meant. In fact, this spring, Hall of Famer Lem Barney said much the same thing: ..
Hall of Famer Lem Barney wishes he’d never played football
Thanks to the folks over at Hulu, the documentary Blood Equity is now available for viewing online. Read our earlier post about the video – click HERE. (You can expand the video to Full Screen by clicking on the enlarge button in the upper right corner of the screen after the first sponsor clip finishes.)
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So producing a film about life after football for many of the old warriors should speak volumes. The documentary Blood Equity has been out since 2007 and is available on DVD. We haven’t heard much more about it since it came out but noticed it was playing this weekend Laemmle Sunset 5 theater in West Hollywood (read the story HERE).
At a time when former players are communicating more than ever and becoming better informed on the various issues involving “us,” I want to urge all players to take advantage of the available resources being offered. Regardless of where you stand on the issues of retired players there is one thing I emphatically know for certain. We all subjected ourselves to hits or blows to the head! Whether it was in practice or in games, we all were subjected to head trauma. Personally, I was diagnosed in 1990 with Post Concussion Syndrome. The date is significant because it was 2 years after I left football and was deemed to be a permanent condition. For almost 20 years now I know what I’ve been dealing with and I have my ways to manage it. Unfortunately, I know so many former players who never thought of the head traumas they sustained as a player but are now having serious neurological issues (depression, mood swings, sensitivity to noise/lights, forgetfulness, etc.) well into the next phase of their lives.
One of the presentations that drew a lot of attention during The Summit was from Bruce Laird of Fourth and Goal. Fourth and Goal has been in ongoing discussions with the NFL to use the NFL Alumni organization as a possible platform for advocacy of disability and pension reform. At the conclusion of The Summit, the group voted to continue moving forward without embracing any single organization at this early stage while encouraging and supporting all organizations that will advance retired players’ issues. (You can look at the evolving Summit blog by clicking HERE and you’ll find Bruce Laird’s presentation under the PowerPoints tab – or click HERE.)
Bernie Parrish has already voiced some of his strong opinions in no uncertain terms (HERE and HERE) and this is definitely going to make it a very hot summer topic. There’s no middle ground or gray area on this one. Do the retired players embrace an existing organization that has been looked on as another business-as-usual club for elite members or will they be embracing an organization that’s been reborn into something that can actually serve the membership at large with complete transparency and representation for each and every one of its members? Only time will tell and everyone’s watching closely.
More keeps coming out on the touchy-feely meetings that Commissioner Goodell has been conducting with the “Alliance” in league cities across the country. The first meeting held in Dallas ended with Disability Attorney being invited – and then uninvited – by John Wooten (read about that HERE) and as revealed in a series of interesting e-mails that followed the meeting (read about that HERE). Then a dull second meeting in Chicago and a more interesting one last week in Baltimore. The spouses of several players with dementia confronted the Commissioner outside of the meeting room about being denied a voice in the process. And then the New York Times backed it up with the revelation that it was the Alliance who decided to close the meetings to everyone except retired players (read about thatHERE and HERE).
Behind the scenes, there’s been a flurry of e-mails and phone calls between the retired players and some members of the “Alliance,” discussing and rationalizing the secret decision to keep the meetings closed. And lots and lots of backpedaling and finger-pointing. We’ve got one interesting exchange that came from Alliance member John Wooten trying once again to explain his way out of another ridiculous situation. Tony Davis’ response is first and Wooten’s e-mail follows at the end. Tony is expressing an opinion that the majority of retired players all seem to share. So why weren’t the other players even consulted before the Big Brother Alliance decided for them?
A number of months ago I told you all that Gene had actually stated to a group of his gangsters the following: ” We don’t have to worry about dividing those assholes because they have divided themselves.” Let’s not let him be proven right.
I also stated to all of you some months back that I was a “Bernie Parrish Man” all the way. That has not changed. Upshaw, the NFLPA and the NFL feared – and fears – Bernie more than it does any man alive. That’s a fact. The NFL even offered to negotiate directly with the retired players if someone could get Bernie to “go away.” Ha ha ha. Fat chance of that ever happening. No one can dispute the commitment that Bernie, Herb and Walt had before any of the rest of us even dreamed that we could really take these Gangsters…
Harry Carson was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame (HOF). During the ceremony, Harry took some time from his personal day of honor to point out the seldom-acknowledged contributions of the old players from the early days of the game. Jeff Nixon sent out a warm letter of recognition and we couldn’t agree more with him. BTW – Dave played in the Pro Bowl Game of ’79 with Harry.
After posting Dave’s application to Commissioner Goodell’s Alliance, we felt it was as good a time as any to follow up with an old interview Sports Blogger, Michael David Smith, had with Dave in 2006 for Football Outsiders.