I absolutely love this game of football…American football…the one where you can use your hands….the other one confuses me-I mean, seriously-a clock should never run upwards and it’s hard to like a sport where acting like a sniper shot you when you get touched is completely acceptable. Anyway, the game has revolved around my life-or should I say my life revolved around the game-for over 30 years now. Just like anything else you invest time into-you feel an attachment to it. You give so much to it, GIVE UP so much for it and it gives back. So when it’s time to break up with her, it’s near impossible. But there’s a certain time when the relationship is no longer healthy for you…literally.
CTE. Three letters that should scare the hell out of every person who’s had multiple concussions. CTE stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy and it’ll change your whole existence. For some like Jim McMahon, Tony Dorsett and Joe DeLamielleure, as well as former NFL All-Pro Leonard Marshall the signs are visually evident to all or to their family. For others like Mike Webster, Terry Long, Andre Waters, Dave Duerson, Ray Easterling, Junior Seau and recently diagnosed Jovan Belcher-the ending was tragic. CTE is no joke and should be taken just as serious as a cancer diagnosis. But sadly we don’t see it that way.
Football is a warriors sport and warriors don’t fear the future until the future comes and suddenly you can’t remember how to get home or what your wife’s name is. So when does the warrior drop the sword and shield and walk away from the battlefield? Better yet, when does someone tell the warrior his battle time is over? That’s the situation that Cardinal’s defensive end John Abraham finds himself immersed in.
On September 10th, Adam Schefter reported that after suffering another concussion on Monday Night Football against the Chargers, Abraham was contemplating retirement. It’s been reported that he has been suffering “severe memory loss” for over a YEAR!
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians stated on SiriusXM that he had a long conversation with Abraham and Abraham said his “heart wasn’t in it (playing football)”. With that information it would seem that retirement would be the viable option. Flash forward 5 day-Bruce Arians announces that John Abraham will be strapping up again and continuing his career. Arians said “I think the rest and sitting back this weekend at home, he missed it a lot. He’s more than ready to roll for down the stretch.” In the words of the urban poet Nate Dogg “Hold up…wait!” The words “severe memory loss” wasn’t enough to keep Abraham from returning? No and it only took one Sunday of watching the game to change his mind.
Most concussions DON’T result in loss of consciousness and chances are he will get another one. What then? How does his brain react when that happens? Abraham has a daughter. If he’s not going to fully consider his future then he needs to seriously consider HER future. What will life for HER be like if-God forbid-he suffers extensive brain damage? Question for the NFL…as unpopular as this may sound-at what point do you protect the player from himself? This may be the perfect opportunity to set that precedent.
Again, I completely understand the love, affection and dedication to this game. I feel it too. But if you have to choose between a short career and a short lifespan…I don’t think there’s much of a choice.
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