Tag Archives: Lou Gerig’s

Degeneration of the Central Nervous System

This is from the New York Times

Two months ago, Boston University researchers found that some deceased athletes who had been found to have A.L.S. in fact had a different disease that, the doctors said, caused similar degeneration of the central nervous system. That discovery, bolstered by data that suggested that N.F.L. players had been found to have A.L.S. at rates about eight times higher than normal, led the researchers to link the players’ condition with athletic brain trauma.

The N.F.L. and the players union said in a release that players with A.L.S., similar to those with dementia, do not “need to demonstrate that the condition was caused by their participation in the NFL.”

Asked whether the program implies a connection between football and the conditions, the league spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail: “It does not address the issue.”

You have 300 pound athletes who can run a 40 yard dash in under 5 seconds colliding in a very violent matter.  While there has always been speed demons (I was stunned when I heard that Deion Sanders ran a 40 in 4.1 seconds and Chris Johnson has had runs this season that have been 20% faster than other running backs covering the same ground), there are more big fast guys then ever before.  Look at the Pittsburgh Steelers o-line under Chuck Noll, they were all around 260 pounds.  Now there are linemen who are 100 pounds heavier than they are.  Even the “Fridge” is no longer considered to be that big of a lineman.  A couple miles and more weight added to the closing speed of any collision does a lot of damage and I think that is what we are seeing happen in the NFL.  Players are bigger, stronger and while equipment is better (especially helmets), it is also lighter.

I am not sure what you do about it other than widening the field (that won’t happen).  While the league is wise to crack down on helmet to helmet hits, how many concussions have we seen that came from hitting the turf really hard or just look at Mike Webster and see what can happen to those guys in the trenches.