Everyone knows a football isn't a contact sport; football is a collision sport. As the players become bigger strong and faster, the collisions become larger, louder, and more frightening. And who doesn't like it when a player gets lit up on the field? The player's brain doesn't appreciate too much. CNN carries the story.
Concussed players describe depression, cognitive troubles, and mood lability. Add these problems to the mood lability induced by steroids (or brain changes) and you have serious troubles. About the concussions:
"I'd [leave to] go see my kids for maybe 15 minutes," said Johnson. "Then I would go back home and close the curtains, turn the lights off and I'd stay in bed. That was my routine for two years.
"Those were bad days."
These days, the former linebacker is less likely to recount the hundreds of tackles, scores of quarterback sacks or the three Super Bowl rings he earned as a linebacker for the New England Patriots. He is more likely to talk about suffering more than 100 concussions.
"I can definitely point to 2002 when I got back-to-back concussions. That's where the problems started," said Johnson, who retired after those two concussions. "The depression, the sleep disorders and the mental fatigue."
Until recently, the best medical definition for concussion was a jarring blow to the head that temporarily stunned the senses, occasionally leading to unconsciousness. It has been considered an invisible injury, impossible to test -- no MRI, no CT scan can detect it.
But today, using tissue from retired NFL athletes culled posthumously, the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE), at the Boston University School of Medicine, is shedding light on what concussions look like in the brain. The findings are stunning. Far from innocuous, invisible injuries, concussions confer tremendous brain damage. That damage has a name: chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
We have referenced the synergistic effect of concussion with steroids, opiates, and other drugs (like alcohol) in producing bad outcomes...as with Chris Benoit. The CNN article looks at a wrestler:
In one moment, his dreams of a long career wrestling were dashed by a kick to his chin. That kick, which caused Nowinski to black out and effectively ended his career, capped a career riddled with concussions.
"My world changed," said Nowinski. "I had depression. I had memory problems. My head hurt for five years..." (CTE)
The Steelers appear plagued with concussion problems:
So far, the evidence of CTE is compelling.
The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, along with other research institutions, has now identified traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of late NFL football players John Grimsley, Mike Webster, Andre Waters, Justin Strzelczyk and Terry Long, in addition to McHale.
Grimsley died of an accidental gunshot wound to the chest. Webster, Long and Strzelczyk all died after long bouts of depression, while Waters committed suicide in 2006 at age 44. McHale was found dead last year of an apparent drug overdose.
"Guys were dying," said Nowinski. "The fact of the matter was guys were dying because they played sports 10 or 20 years before."
So far, around 100 athletes have consented to have their brains studied after they die.
Ted Johnson was one of the first to sign up. He said he believes that concussions he suffered while playing football explain the anger, depression and throbbing headaches that occasionally still plague him.
Johnson said he played through concussions because he, like many other NFL athletes, did not understand the consequences. He has publicly criticized the NFL for not protecting players like him.
The NFL's response:
In a statement, the NFL indicated that their staffs take a cautious, conservative approach to managing concussions.
While they support research into the impact of concussions, they maintain that, "Hundreds of thousands of people have played football and other sports without experiencing any problem of this type and there continues to be considerable debate within the medical community on the precise long-term effects of concussions and how they relate to other risk factors."
The NFL is planning its own independent medical study of retired NFL players on the long-term effects of concussion.
"Really my main reason even for talking about this is to help the guys who are already retired," said Johnson. "[They] are getting divorced, going bankrupt, can't work, are depressed, and don't know what's wrong with them. [It is] to give them a name for it so they can go get help."
Studies need to be completed on the effects of concussions, and on the synergistic effects of steroids, PEDs and concussions on the player's functioning. The players appear to be jacked-up into oblivion as they are knocked silly.