Like most folks, I've been half-following the news about David Givens filing a lawsuit against
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the Titans. He's alleging that the Titans didn't give him full information about a knee condition he had and encouraged him to play, which resulted in what seems to be a career ending injury to his knee.
I was trying, frankly, to ignore it. I mean, it's one thing to watch men go out there week after week and knowingly risk injury for my entertainment. But watching men who've had the truth withheld from them?
How can you say "they choose to do this" if they're not being told the exact nature of the choice they're making?
Then the other day I read this long article in GQ
about Dr. Bennet Omalu, who has examined the brains of ex-football players who struggled after their football careers with mental illness and died young.
They all had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is when a type of protein builds up in the brain and kills off brain cells in the regions that govern moods, emotions, and executive functioning. It's caused, as you might guess from the name, by chronic trauma, such as having your brains scrambled once a week every week all fall, sometimes clear through January.
Dr. Omalu thought that the NFL would be interested in his findings. He thought maybe they could change how players take off from the line of scrimmage to lessen the trauma to their heads. Or he thought maybe scientists could take his research and develop a pill that players could take before the game that might keep the protein from building up and sticking to their brains.
According to the GQ article, that's not what happened. The NFL at first set out to discredit him and even now they're still hemming and hawing about whether chronic traumatic encephalopathy is caused by football or maybe by steroid use.
But the crux of the matter is that, if the NFL conducts itself towards players the way it's conducted itself towards Dr. Omalu, we can't be sure that players are being given accurate information about the risks of playing the game.
And, if anything, the Givens lawsuit would seem to confirm that information that would change how players approached the game is being withheld from them.
So, apparently, we're not watching a bunch of guys go out there every week knowing the risks but playing anyway. We're watching guys who might have decided not to play or to play differently, if they knew all the facts.
The game is being kept dangerous for our entertainment.
And that makes me feel a little gross about watching at all.