If you’re a football fan and you haven’t been traveling to a remote corner of the world or living under a rock, you’ve heard a lot of talk about concussions in the past week. As word spread of the tragic death of Junior Seau, the obvious question arose: Was he suffering the effects of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)? His family has been asked by several organizations studying brain injuries to donate his brain for evaluation. One of the first to reach out to them was Garrett Webster, an administrator at the Brain Injury Research Institute, and son of Steelers Hall of Fame center Mike Webster, who suffered from CTE and died at the age of 50. As of this moment, Seau’s family are undecided.
What kicked the conversation into high gear was a radio interview on the Dan Patrick Show with Kurt Warner, who commented that he is worried about his sons playing football due to the risk of brain injury. He also wondered what the future would hold for him, given the concussions he has sustained over the years. Amani Toomer ripped Warner for undermining the NFL, after everything he got from the league. Cut to Merril Hoge on ESPN, who made some strong statements that riled the masses. Calling Warner out as irresponsible and uneducated, Hoge urged parents to be involved in their child’s sports program, interact with the coaches, and insure that their children get proper care in the event of an injury.
Toomer was simply out of line. Warner and Hoge were both correct in their comments, but each could have presented his point more effectively. Warner’s concerns are legitimate as a parent; as a well-respected player and analyst, however, he missed an opportunity to provide accurate information to the listeners and educate them. Hoge certainly should have been more diplomatic when discussing a colleague. Unfortunately, those who were turned off by his assessment of Warner missed the valuable points he made during the segment. Not only was Hoge’s career ended because a concussion was treated improperly, Hoge serves on the board of directors of USA Football, which has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since 2007 to advance concussion awareness and management. Hoge knows what he’s talking about, and he’s passionate on the subject. Warner and Hoge could both take a lesson from Aerys writer Patricia Hsieh, who presented her parental concerns eloquently in the context of valid science. » Continue reading “House Calls: Concussions 101″