I like Austin Collie. I root for him. I very much want him to return to form this year after his 2010 season was cut short by three concussions (two officially), which were sustained over a four week period. However, when I read interview transcripts like this one, which features Collie on radio station KHTK in Sacramento with host Grant Napear, I wonder if Collie is continuing to feel the effects of those concussions.
Take, for example, Collie's answer to Napear's question as to whether or not he's 'scared' after having so many concussions so early in his career.
Not really. If it was one of those things that I had a history of concussions and now I’m getting worse or more-and-more frequent then it would definitely be a worry of mine in the near future, but I’ve known players who play with 9 or 10 concussions and who have lived on to have successful careers and haven’t had any symptoms later on in life, so again everyone is different. Everyone handles each injury different and hopefully down the road it’ll be perfectly fine.
I'd like to know who those people are that Collie is referring to, because studies conducted by the University of North Carolina’s Center for the Study of Retired Athletes, one of most prestigious medical centers in the country, say Collie's statement is about as ignorant as one can get on the subject.
From a 2005 study, via emaxhealth.com:
A 2005 study conducted at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, for example, analyzed data from more than 2,550 retired professional football players. Sixty-one percent of them had experienced at least one concussion during their career, and 24 percent had had three or more. The researchers found an earlier onset of Alzheimer’s disease among these men than the general male population, and concluded that dementia-related syndromes may be initiated by concussions in professional football players.
From a 2007 study, via the NY Times:
The study, which will appear in the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, found that of the 595 players who recalled sustaining three or more concussions on the football field, 20.2 percent said they had been found to have depression. That is three times the rate of players who have not sustained concussions.
Former NFL players who suffered three or more concussions are five times more likely to have mild cognitive impairment and three times more likely to have significant memory problems than players who do not have a history of concussions.
This is all especially important to note because of the news that broke earlier today regarding the death of former Colts great John Mackey. Mackey sustained an incalculable number of concussions during his ten years playing. He was, at one time, considered 'the smartest guy in the room,' and yet he spent the last remaining years of his brilliant life in assisted living. He was suffering from frontotemporal dementia, which is a mental affliction similar to Alzheimer's disease. His communicative and memory functions were impaired, and he needed professional help just to get through the day. He died at 69 years of age.
69 is not old, folks.
Mackey's late life, and early death, is an example many turn to when people ask to see an example of what concussions do to former players. The frontotemporal dementia he suffered from didn't just appear out of the blue. He didn't 'catch it,' like a cold or something equally infectious. He got it because someone knocked his head more than three times on a football field, and he was proof that people do indeed exhibit negative symptoms after sustaining concussions.
I'll state again that I like Austin Collie and I root for him. That said, Collie's dismissive comment about the severe nature of concussions is exactly the kind of ignorant thinking that the NFL and the players union must stamp out. Collie comes off as insensitive, uneducated, and aloof. He should damn well know better. If he doesn't know any better, then someone needs to grab him by his nuts and make him have a one-on-one conversation with Sylvia Mackey, the wife of John Mackey. Or, he can talk to Teddy Johnson. Or Al Toon.
Or, maybe he can do a quick Google search on this thing called 'The Internet,' and he might learn a thing or two. It's not like there have been studies about concussions and NFL players going on for the last, I don't know, six years or so!
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