NFL proven dead wrong: Concussions cause clinical depression

Did Bill Belichick force Ted Johnson to play after Johnson suffered multiple concussions?
The NY Times yesterday had a very intriguing and, in many cases, disturbing article about a recent study conducted by the University of North Carolina regarding the correlation between NFL players with multiple concocussions and clinical depression. The study found that many retired NFL players who suffered multiple concussions during their careers have suffered from clinical depression after retiring. To quote the Times:
It corroborates other findings regarding brain trauma and later-life depression in other subsets of the general population, but runs counter to longtime assertions by the N.F.L. that concussions in football have no long-term effects.
For decades, the NFL has maintained that getting your brains knocked around in your head has nothing to do with any post-career mental illness you might suffer from. As stated, this is not what many in the medical community believe in, and it also runs counter to the all important measure called "common sense" so few of us seem to possess. Attention was first given to the possibility of concussions causing mental problems later in life after an autopsy was done on former Philadelphia Eagles safety Andre Waters, who tragically took his own life after battling years of clinical depression. This autopsy shocked many fans with its findings:
The pathologist from the University of Pittsburgh concluded that [Andre Waters'] brain cells had the appearance of an 85-year-old man with Alzheimer's disease. The pathologist also contends that the severe brain changes were caused by the multiple concussions Andre Walters had while playing football.
Again, this pathologist's findings run contrary to what the NFL has claimed for years: concussions do not lead to mental illness post-career. Two weeks following Waters' death and autopsy report, former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson came forward and said he suffers from clinical depression and that it is a direct result from multiple concussions suffered while playing for New England. Johnson went further, saying his coach, Bill Belichick, and the team physician knew he had suffered multiple concussions, and, against sound medical practice, made Ted Johnson play anyway.

I blogged about this when it first came out, and the Times article mentions Johnson's allegations against Belichick. There is no curse word that articulates the contempt I have for coaches like Belichick who would endanger a player's life in order to win a game. Forget the fact that Belichick is a jerk and conducts himself in an unprofessional manner. If indeed Belichick made Johnson play knowing he was not healthy as a result of multiple concussions, Belichick would then have violated the the new rules for the NFL conduct policy, resulting in a hefty fine, a huge suspension, and utter disgrace. The pathetic part about this is several Patriots fans dismissed Johnson's allegations as sour grapes. Such fans define the phrase "Kool Aid drinkers," and are in need of a 2x4 across the face.

The evidence regarding concussions and post-career depression is pretty damning. Even more disgusting is the NFL's pathetic attempts to save face, especially the team physicians that could really be the culprits here. One of the guys quoted in the Times article is a Dr. Henry Feuer if IU Medical Center. Feuer also is a medical consultant for the Colts. Rather than discuss the merits of the report (which there are many), this hack simply dismisses it as "virtually worthless."

Note to the Colts: Fire this Dr. Feuer schmuck.

Andre Waters
Between this NC study and the cases of Waters and Johnson, it's pretty much accepted now that the NFL was dead wrong re: concussions and depression, and that any moron doctor that tries to argue against the studies needs to be sent packing. At the very least, the NFL should re-evaluate its policies and not simply dismiss the findings of a reputable university. Obviously, this Feuer moron has a stake in this because (duh!) he works for the NFL. So, rather than do what a doctor is supposed to do and weigh data from all available sources, this prick simply dismisses the study because it happens to conflict with his meal ticket.

Sorry, but I wouldn't trust this guy to wash my car, let alone diagnose anyone.

The real bad guys here are the NFL who failed to objectively evaluate this very troubling problem with their players. Many believe Steelers HoFer Mike Webster suffered from mental illness which might have stemmed from the brain damage he suffered while playing in the 1970s. Webster died of a heart attack five years ago at the age of 50. And when I read stories like Ted Johnson's, it makes me feel nothing but utter contempt for punks like Belichick. Make no mistake, if I found out Dungy or any other coach sent a player out on the field knowing he wasn't fit to play because of previous concussions, I would stop rooting for the Colts.

I love my team, but I'm no blind, Kool Aid drinking homer. No sport is worth winning THAT badly, and if any coach (like Belichick) thinks that way, he does not belong coaching anything, including Pop Warner. Would you trust your kids to get coached by someone that would compromise their longterm health in order to win? Thought so. The health of the players is paramount over winning and losing. Don't share that? Then get out. Such a mentality is no different than raising pit bulls in your back yard and have them kill one another.

As a fan, I want answers for this, and I want the NFL to do a truly thorough re-evaluation of the policies regarding concussions and their correlation with clinical depression. I want the NFL to fine and suspend coaches and team doctors who put men at risk in order to win games. I want change. The NFL has some serious soul searching to do regarding this, and I think I speak for most fans when I say we want our players healthy and happy post-retirement, and anything that prevents that should be dealt with swiftly and thoroughly.

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