By now you know that an analysis of the late-Chris Henry's brain showed signed of collision-related damage which may have contributed to his often-times erratic behavior. Henry was killed back in January when he feel from the back of a pick-up truck after a domestic dispute with his fiancee. Erratic behavior, depression, irritability, and moods swings are all signs of brain injury to do blunt force trauma. Many believe these types of brain injuries led to the untimely deaths of players like former-Steelers great Mike Webster.
The findings regarding Henry provide yet another slap across the face to the NFL owners, who repeatedly deny that concussions cause long-term cognitive problems. The solutions to the problems regarding concussions and long-term brain injuries are complicated, but they start with stronger enforcement of safety rules (such as longer suspensions for players who "spear," or increased penalties from helmet-to-helmet hits) and requiring all players to wear the special Revolution helmets that reduce the risk of concussions, like the helmet Peyton Manning wears.
The first step in solving the problem is for the NFL to stop acting like idiots and actually admit that there is a problem. Their repeated attempts to dodge this very important issue are likely a big reason why the NFLPA is not playing nice with the owners as they try to negotiate a new CBA.
However, as important as it is to address this problem, it is a major leap of exceedingly stupid proportions to use Chris Henry's sad death as a justification for Colts receiver Reggie Wayne to skip out of mandatory team practices (like mini-camp) in order to get a new contract, which is what 18to88.com's Nate Dunleavy did today on his site.
Nate's argument is that "Football is a brutal sport. Guys deserve every penny they can get. Never begrudge a player the right to get every dime he can. He's paying with his life and body."
Like everyone here, I understand and appreciate that football is a brutal profession. Then again, so is coal mining, law enforcement, teaching high school math in inner-city Detroit, and disarming roadside bombs in Iraq. However, unlike many professions on this earth that are dangerous, most football players very much enjoy what they do, welcome the hazards of the game the play, and get paid loads of money to do it. And, in Reggie Wayne's case, he has already pocketed a significant chunk of a six-year, $39 million dollar contract he signed back in 2006.
He signed this contract knowing full and well that the sport he was working in was dangerous.
For me, I have no problem with Reggie Wayne asking for more money. Anyone has a right to ask to be paid more. However, I do have a problem with Reggie Wayne not showing up for work because he wants more money. That's a problem, especially when the work he skips out on offers next to zero chance of him getting injured.
You signed the contract? Fulfill the obligation. Part of that obligation is showing up for practice.
Unlike coal miners, bomb disposal technicians, inner-city teachers, and Coast Guardsman currently cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (all of whom, by the way, likely signed contracts to do the work they do), people like Reggie Wayne are paid tens of millions of dollars to participate a game most people would play for free. Unlike most people with "real" jobs, when Reggie Wayne skips out on work, he isn't fired, demoted, or reprimanded. He's simply fined, and everyone forgets about it.
Yep, it's a rough life.
So, no offense, but Reggie is not going to get any sympathy from people like me when he skips out on work in order to complain about a $39 million dollar deal. Reggie Wayne is set for life right now (or, at least he should be). Asking for more now is akin to nothing more than plain and simple greed. Obviously, Reggie is completely within his rights to ask for more. But, let's not make this out to be the about someone asking for more money so he can take care of his medical bills. $39 mill puts Reggie in the top 1% of American money-makers in this country, to say nothing of endorsement money he gets from places like Sprint and "Got Milk?"
Reggie ain't hurtin' for green, unlike many other Americans who do far more dangerous work for far less pay.
The NFL is a contact sports league. Everyone knows the risks and they sign contracts fully aware of those risks. They are paid handsomely to play a game, while many others in this life work in far more dangerous (but more important) fields for the football equivalent of of "chump change." And using Chris Henry's tragic death as a justification for NFL players to shrug off contract obligations in an effort to make an additional $40 million on top of the $40 million they've already made is pure silliness.
Asking hard-working, dedicated professionals in far more dangerous professions to "understand" Wayne's actions, and to "appreciate" them, is close to insulting. If you personally sympathize with players who do this, I think your priorities are a bit screwed up. But, that's just me.
Nate's head was up his ass when he wrote that little segment today, and he should know better.
That said, I'll take this time to (once again) pimp Nate's book "Blue Blood." You should buy it because 1) I'm tired of promoting it, and 2) Because Nate's a good writer, and you just should. Unlike Reggie Wayne, Nate isn't making $39 million dollars blogging at 18to88, and he has a family to feed.