Monday, December 3, 2012

NFL should follow Cycling

I'd bet that up until this weekend I was the only one of my friends who knew who Jovan Belcher was.  Now a lot of people know him because he's all over the news.  Jovan was the starting linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs that shot and killed the mother of their 3 month old daughter this weekend and then shot himself in front of his coaches at Arrowhead Stadium.  It's a horrible story and I was deeply dishearten to hear it.

I never met Jovan but he played for the University of Maine which is where I played as well.  And while my NFL experience was very brief (and many years ago) Jovan was the real deal. I think he was drafted late in the 10th round but still made the team and became a starter in his forth year.  Its a great story and to us UMaine guys he was a source of genuine pride that another one of our own was making a mark in the NFL.  So it was such a fucking bummer to hear about what happened.

It seemed off the mark too because from all reports Jovan was one of the good guys.  He was well liked, kept his nose clean, a team guy that worked hard and all that kind of stuff.  So on this level it was a real jolt.

But looking deeper into this I think there is way more to it.  Lets start with science and talk about something the fat cats at the helm of the NFL would much rather sweep under the carpet "concussions".   Playing linebacker is like running into a garage door 100 times a day.   Sometimes you lead with a shoulder but normally you have to lead with your head because your head is the scope through which a straight tackle is lined up & best delivered.  It works the best but the trade off is a high risk of concussion.   Ahh, forget I said 'high risk'.  If you play linebacker there is a 99% probability that you'll have a concussion or probably multiple concussions before you even get out of college.

Without getting too deep into it, one of the biggest effects of a concussion or multiple concussions, is depression and not just a case of the blues, we talking deep dark stuff and I have to think that this is what (at least in part, if not whole) led up to this tragedy with Jevon.

But like all things that might effect ticket sales and network contracts, the NFL will undoubtedly do its best to avoid talking about this or delay addressing it for as long as possible.....but I'd bet my right leg right now that depression, as a result concussions, will surface as the major contributing factor in Jevons horrible actions.

In the meantime I appreciate all that cycling is doing to clean up it's skeletons.  I think cycling is the only professional sport in the world that is moving forward in this way with transparency and in earnest.  I'm truly and authentically proud of this.  Our sport is leading the way and we should all be proud of it. 

Peace and roll strong!

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