* DISCLAIMER – This is not an opinion piece from a learned professional but a layman’s perspective on an important issue.
I had never been a sports fan growing up. I was more into the players and most especially the good-looking ones; David Beckham, Tom Brady, Raul, Cristiano Ronaldo, Cam Newton and the list goes. But I enjoyed watching those who loved the various sports watch their games and get amped up and excited. From the English Premiership League teams (Chelsea to Manchester United) to the New York Yankees etc. Growing up with a lot of brothers and their various individual team favorites only made it more interesting. Then I moved to the United States and was introduced to a whole new juggernaut called American Football, more commonly known as the NFL.
I admit that I knew little about the intricacies of the game, but I wasn’t exactly a novice; I mean who in the world hasn’t heard about the Super Bowl or at the halftime show? Players likes Warren Sapp, Tom Brady, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocincho, Michael Strahan were already somewhat familiar to me with their exploits all over the wires and social media. but nothing prepared me for the contagious energy of the game. American’s loove their football even more than the English and parts of Europe love their soccer. It doesn’t help that I have a spouse who lives, breathes and drinks this thing. Just as my brothers are dedicated to their individual favorite teams, my hubs and his cronies are die-hard, Titans, Giants, Steelers and Redskins fans. From sitting in on those Sundays, Mondays and Thursday games, to watching hubs play game after game of Madden (NFL video game) and watch him eagerly anticipate the new Madden release, to even finding myself watching and recording ESPN’s First Take to know what topics Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless are debating today (from Brady’s suspension to who’s a better QB, Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck) to then relay what I learnt that day to my spouse and feeling happy with myself when he gives me that ‘how do you know this stuff look’ on his face. After several months, I would say I wasn’t a rookie anymore.
I had come to love and respect the game even though I hated the fact that it would be virtually impossible to get my hubs to do anything on Sundays or while he’s playing Madden. I had come to develop an appreciation for the game, that is until I saw a Frontline documentary on concussion cases in the NFL and how the league denied the seriousness of head injuries that lead to some players developing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE despite the tragic deaths of some of its greats; Mike Webster, Andre Waters, Junior Seau to mention a few.
What alarmed me even more was that traces of CTE were found in two cases of teenage football payers who had also taken their own lives. There was another disturbing case of a 14 year old getting paralyzed from the neck down due to a defensive tackle on the field, I’m not sure if I like this game as much as I used to and I’m sure as hell not going to let my little boy play football, tennis is a safer option right about now. Despite my fears, I still couldn’t keep my eyes away from the screen when my baby daddy in my head Tom Brady and the New England Patriots won this year Super Bowl.
In the wake of next year’s Oscars race, action star Will Smith as decided to throw his hat in the race with an movie titled concussion based on the recent plight of head injuries in the NFL and how the league dealt with this issue. Smith plays the Nigerian doctor, Ben Omalu who discovered this disease while undertaking the autopsy of the late Mike Webster of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s been sold as a David and Goliath sort of battle, and boy it is sold! Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a Will Smith fan period; I think he tries way to hard. But this film however, I would go see this movie and I’m hoping his portrayal of our Dr Ben Omalu further drives home the seriousness of this disease and while we enjoy the game at its best we should think about the price these men and young boys are paying for our entertainment and maybe offer some solace to the distraught families that the deaths of their loved ones wasn’t in vain and other are taken heed and taken the necessary precautions.