Seau Apparent Suicide Could be Watershed NFL Event

If it turns out that former Chargers great Junior Seau indeed committed suicide, and that he shot himself in the chest so that his brain could be examined for symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), San Diego will be in the center of a great controversy that could have a profound effect on the future of football. Seau is the best and most widely revered player who suffered apparent football-related brain damage, and appears to have taken his life at such a young age. If he had CTE, as tests may or may not later show, this event will be to football as Kent State was to the Vietnam War protest movement of the 1960s and early 1970s. Last year, a former star Chicago Bears player, Dave Duerson, committed suicide by a shot in the chest so that his brain could be examined. But Seau has a much bigger name.

The Seau tragedy is reminiscent of a great poem, "To an Athlete Dying Young," by A. E. Housman. The gist was that the athlete who died young was fortunate, because his fame would have evaporated and his life become humdrum. "Smart lad, to slip betimes away/From fields where glory does not stay," wrote Housman, speaking of "Runners whom renown outran/And the name died before the man." Seau's name will never die, but if it turns out he had CTE, his name may spark national introspection about the violence of the sport.

Publications such as the New Yorker and the New York Times have carefully followed the brain injuries -- and other injuries -- of retired professional football players. The current controversy about the bounties on injured players encouraged by the New Orleans Saints is a story that will not die. At the time of the recent National Football League (NFL) draft, Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith boasted that the team had picked a "mean, nasty man." When he uttered those words, I wondered if he ever reads the paper -- or the lawsuits against the NFL.


this is excellent Don...i wondered why he did it...and altho this may not have been the reason it may have been

and the poem

et all

To an Athlete Dying Young

The time you won your town the race We chaired you through the market-place; Man and boy stood cheering by, And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come, Shoulder-high we bring you home, And set you at your threshold down, Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away From fields where glory does not stay And early though the laurel grows It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut Cannot see the record cut, And silence sounds no worse than cheers After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout Of lads that wore their honours out, Runners whom renown outran And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade, The fleet foot on the sill of shade, And hold to the low lintel up The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead, And find unwithered on its curls The garland briefer than a girl's

. Alfred Edward Housman

it must be so difficult 4 these guys to leave such lauded careers...especially with brain damage...boxers have had to deal with these secquellie for years and years

Thank you for posting the entire poem, Nan. The poem appears tender and loving, but is actually a bitter commentary on life -- the truth that fame is fleeting and life after fame that has evanesced can be devastating. Again, the point of this posting is to alert San Diegans that Seau's death may become the center of a tornado as Americans debate the effects of its most popular -- and profitable -- sport. Best, Don Bauder

thank u Don...i also posted ur article (this one) on Facebook

Since he was a homegrown superstar, and arguably the most famous athlete to ever come out of San Diego (with Ted Williams) it is a DEVESTATING LOSS fo the San Diego Community.

I am stunned and saddened beyond belief.

Yes, it is a devastating loss. He was a great player. Best, Don Bauder

agreed Puppy!!!

i watched it on ABC at 11:00AM and cried and cried

You have the sensitivity to realize the potential impact of this tragedy, Nan. Best, Don Bauder

once again great thx Don...most loved Junior because of his intensity...his "take no prisoners" style on the field

my son Mike made a comment about how much HE loved Juniors intensity

i recently had a conversation with him about his stepsons just starting high school this year and playing varsity football...he's a brilliant honor role student and i ask Mike to think carefully about letting him spend 4 years playing tackle football

I would suggest soccer. Our two sons played soccer and it was fun for the whole family. Best, Don Bauder

while it is true that junior seau will long be heralded for his ability on the football field, let us take a moment to celebrate the heart of the man. easily recognized by the big, beautiful, sincere smile. endeared by so many for all that he gave back to the youth of san diego. the caring loving man who never knew a stranger.

let us also give thanks to his parents for raising such an incredible individual, a man in the end that any mother would be proud to call 'my son'. oh, the heavy burden she is carrying tonight - i can not imagine, i do not want to imagine.

junior, you left the world a much better place, your mark will long be remembered and honored.


Very well said. Seau was bigger than life. The police have determined that he did, in fact, commit suicide. Now the question is whether he had CTE or some kind of brain injury that might have resulted from the hits he took during many years as a college and professional linebacker. There is a huge amount of money riding on professional football -- not just for owners and players, but from merchandising of products, international advertising, and, perhaps most importantly, gambling. From its start in the 1920s, pro football has been pushed by gambling. I certainly hope that these monetary interests do not impede a thorough medical report, or conspire to cover up the results. We must know the answers to these questions. Best, Don Bauder

Yes, Junior Seau and Tony Gwynn (and earlier Ted Williams) provided so much to San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

This tragedy has many dimensions, but the one that always seems to miss the news and gossip is related (again multi-dimensional) to how we, as a society, tolerate the outrages of the culture which controls us.

The highly social, intuitively generous culture from which Seau was a nurturing one, and it has not come off well its collision with the one that dominates the US. Few of us are able to retain our social souls in that collision, so overwhelming is the pressure to conform, and if we do so, we remain mangled misfits, considered impertinent by the majority, and history is strewn with the carcasses of the uppity (fill in the blank) who dared to try to retain a loving way of life grown out of Nature, with mutual respect, cooperative rather than competitive. The dominant culture is so entrenched that it is accepted as the norm.

Psychopathologies have a way of erupting destructively once a critical mass is reached, and this can be expressed at many levels from the individual whose heart has been torn out by the high priests to the concentrations of power like the NFL and its asocial masters and the halls of governments. Such entities ultimately rot from within, when the parasites have consumed all or most all of the available prey and turn on each other. The disease runs its course much more rapidly in individuals, especially those accustomed to nurture, those with generous hearts and integrated minds.

Personal story: Many years ago, as I pulled myself up onto the rocks between La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores, a big hand attached to the jolliest face I have ever seen reached out to mine, and an arm of great strength hauled me out and thrust a cold beer into my other hand. The man and his companions were cooking fish in the coals of a small open fire, and offered to share it with me. I gratefully drank the beer and moved on, leaving these most happy men to their meal. A very great mistake on my part, but I had been so enculturated to independence that I lacked the grace of being to embrace their hospitality and join with them in honoring their highly social cultural traditions, a little bit of Samoa . . . and RIGHT HERE IN RIVER CITY!

I can guess at Junior's pain, and I feel it so very deeply that I can understand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that he endured while following his naturally hospitable heart. Oh, how he tried to fit into this snake pit (my apologies to snakes) of a rotting culture! It was too much. His murderers are many, slow torturers, living out their own personal hells, drowning in their own slime, rejecting every warm and welcoming hand extended to them, and so much poorer in spirit for it, the hollow ones . . . I wonder who just bought "The Scream" for a mere $125,000,000.00? Ironic coincidence? Go figure.

Brilliant, Twister, to think of that huge price paid for Munch's "The Scream" on the same day San Diego learns of this tragedy. "The Scream" is a magnificent piece of art. Seau was a magnificent player. But the culture that puts so much emphasis on a greed- and gambling-driven, violent game, while putting so little emphasis on great art, has to be put on the psychiatrist's couch. Incidentally, mea maxima culpa. I watch both college and pro football regularly. Best, Don Bauder

please blog this's way too brilliant to be JUST a comment

Don, this blog post of yours may be one of the best things you've produced, ever. And it is so brief for all its impact. Often the most significant events are not recognized as such, but if you are right about this being a sort of watershed for pro football, you will have spotted it before most anyone else. Today's papers are full of encomia to Seau, and they probably should be, but there is little mention of a larger picture of the "sport."

He was part of a culture that has a very difficult time adapting to or assimilating into the mainland culture. The Seau family has had its share of misery, with members going to prison, and others as victims of gang killings. But Junior was supposed to be the one who beat the odds and succeeded on mainland terms. And yet . . .


Actually, the UT did a good story this morning (May 3) on the possibility that a football-related head injury was behind this tragedy. I thought the UT would play down this aspect -- possibly ignore it -- although other media were emphasizing it so much that the UT almost had to cover it. If we learn that Seau had CTE, or had suffered some kind of brain injury, the spotlight will intensify on pro football, yes -- but also on Pop Warner, high school, and college football. They are all deeply inculcated in our culture and our economy. A lot of societal introspection may go into this controversy. Best, Don Bauder

Track who wrote the piece; see how long they last.

It was written by Janet Lavelle. I hope she doesn't go to the guillotine. Best, Don Bauder

The game could be made much less punishing with some changes that would not necessarily reduce interest. Replace brute force and hard hits with skill and it might actually benefit. Our society can be better for a deemphasis on this gladiator sport that sacrifices players, and an emphasis on those that emphasize sportsmanship and skilled play.

Agreed. I was talking about this with our oldest son last night. He was noting that there have been player deaths in soccer and many debilitating head injuries in hockey. I think there are fixes for each: there should be more substitutions in soccer. The player deaths my son told me about were heart-related, seemingly caused by exhaustion. Hockey glorifies violence -- for example, permitting players to fight because the fans love it. It seems to me that the fighting must stop, and there should be stricter rules to penalize some of the cheap shots, although I admit I know little about hockey. In football, equipment improvements might help somewhat. There could be some rules changes such as recent ones that protect quarterbacks. The trouble is that fans love the gore and announcers glorify it on the air. I remember several years ago when a quarterback suffered a very serious leg break -- highly visual. TV stations replayed and replayed the scene, zeroing in on the grisly shattered leg. If fans pay to see violence, how do you modify it? Your gladiator analogy is a good one. We have not made much progress through the centuries, have we? Best, Don Bauder

Sorry, equipment improvements will not help with brain and other injuries that are caused by the infamous "sudden stop."

Fan is short for fanatic. It's their fault--period. If you want to stand up, don't go to such games, don't watch them on TV, and don't buy the sponsors' products and services. Demonstrate against them all.

That's why I said "mea culpa" when confessing I watch college and pro football on TV. Best, Don Bauder

My dad saw so much combat during the war, the last thing he wanted in civilian life was violent sport as entertainment. He never took me to a football game, and I never asked. I've attended one football event in my live -- a preseason game at Chicago's Soldier Field. I was bored to distraction. I can't wait for the Super Bowl because it's the one Sunday every year that I'm guaranteed to have a quiet movie theatre to myself. Boxing boggles my mind. Why would anyone want to watch two grown men beat the snot out of each other? In my mind, it all became preordained the day they asked Scorsese what he thought of professional sports. "Anything with a ball, no good," was his reply. I winced the year they ran an ad before the Super Bowl reminding men that it was only a game and if their team lost, they shouldn't take it out on their wives. (I did consider overturning a few cars when Marty failed to take home a best director Oscar for "Hugo.") As much as I despise football, I find myself saddened by Seau's suicide. Admittedly, it was his decision to participate in a game so steeped in socially acceptable anti-social behavior. But if what I'm reading is true, we may soon be looking at a football-free future thanks to his suicide. Never have I been so happy to see political correctness rear its head, but let's face facts: if you outlaw football, only outlaws will have footballs. Many consider suicide to be the ultimate act of selfishness, but in this case Seau appears to have been playing the part of cautionary angel.

I said that Seau's suicide, if it turns out that he had suffered a brain injury, would engender intense introspection about this violent sport. However, I don't see a football-free future, at least in my lifetime. (I will be 76 this month.) Teddy Roosevelt considered banning football more than a century ago. The sport has very deep roots in our society. Best, Don Bauder

I often wonder what would happen if every young football aspirant were told, at the start of every season, that the greater his success in the game, the shorter his life will be. These big strong guys should not be kicking off in their 40's and 50's. Kids don't think that much about something that might happen to them twenty, thirty, or forty years hence. If they did, few would smoke. But when the desires of the public to see the hits and the occasional gore collide with the reality of what a NFL career does to one's life expectancy, something will give.

Good idea, Visduh. I have seen stats on the life expectancy of pro football players vs. the average person, but I can't remember where I saw them. The NFL certainly doesn't talk about it. Best, Don Bauder

Relax, folks. One ought not ban anything in reaction to one tragic act.

If we did, we'd have banned car traveling long ago.

It's a tragedy, and I pray for Seau and his family. I've been a fan of his since his USC days.

Like Mr. Bauder I watch football, but less and less as the years go by. I can't watch a game without hearing my dad's words ring in my ears, "Why do you want to watch other men doing things? Get up and do something yourself."

I don't foresee public opinion getting so aroused that there would be a ban. It isn't in the cards. Too much money is involved in the sport and too many people enjoy it. Best, Don Bauder

SEAU'S EX-WIFE SAYS HE SUFFERED CONCUSSIONS. Gina Seau, Junior's former spouse and mother of their children, told the Associated Press, "Of course he [Seau] suffered concussions." Greg Rosenthal of commented, "It would be naive to think Seau didn't suffer any unreported concussions while playing." Rosenthal reported that Seau spoke out against the rising injuries in pro football. He told, "Those who are saying the game is changing for the worse, well, they don't have a father who can't remember his name because of the game."

The autopsy today confirmed that Seau killed himself by a shot to the chest. There will be further tests that could take three months. The UT reports that the family will decide whether to donate Seau's brain to researchers studying repetitive head injuries.

What we need is brains that can override silly emotional attachments, not bans. Adults do not have to be forced to do the right thing. Need I mention that the definition of stupidity is continuing to repeat an action and expecting a different result? (Paraphrasing Einstein.)

Which Einstein? Albert, the legendary physicist, or Alfred, the great musicologist? Best, Don Bauder

Shucks, I been wun upped agin. It might have been the guy I buy my bagels from.

Einstein Bagels that go faster than the speed of light? Best, Don Bauder

Joaquin's papa is my kind guy. Joaquin, you should listen to your dad more. What does he say about your assertion that a ban on football is the same as a ban on cars?

Re: Joaquin_de_la_Mesa May 3, 3:12 p.m.

There ain't gonna be no ban on football or cars any time soon. Best, Don Bauder

It wasn't the huge price for "The Scream" alone. This was a multiple stupid irony. Two unnecessary and overpriced things juxtaposing, though I do recognize that the art has some value as a cartoon, and that football has value in terms of fun and physical fitness (unless doped). It is THE TRADEOFF that is the elephant in the room. And a grand misallocation of scarce resources. We do have OTHER CHOICES for the benefits realized from both. We CHOOSE to throw our young people to the lions. Such are the seeds of cultural disintegration. Yes, there are plenty of others, and mature individuals should take voluntary action to disintegrate them before they disintegrate US. Scream, scream, SCREAM!

ENOUGH! At long last, at long last, Mr. Bauder, have we no sense of DECENCY?

Or is that just another one of those things that raises a wink, an elbow nudge, a "knowing" smile amongst the gud ol' boyz?

Re: dbauder May 3, 9:30 a.m.

One obscenity is that The Scream should be in an art museum so the public can view it, rather than in a private collection of someone who can pay $125 million for one painting. Best, Don Bauder

Frankly, I don't personally give a damn. But then, I'm apparently in the minority.

There seem to be plenty of obscenities to go around.

Thumbs down on this whole mfrin culture.

Twister, you must do more wandering through art museums. That is a mood elevator -- especially if there is a string quartet playing as you move from room to room. It is a wonderful experience. Best, Don Bauder


listen to the wise fellow twister my lad

Visduh tends to make the most sense here; heshe might not be quite as radical as I am, but I tend to favor his approach to practical compromise. Unfortunately, I predict that his ideas don't have a much better chance of being taken seriously than mine.

Still, Visduh, it's OUR JOB to be radicals (or is it oxidizers?)

Re: Visduh May 3, 1:38 p.m.

PS: ". . . comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." --Menken

I happen to know that Visduh is a male although I have never met him. Best, Don Bauder

hey wait a minute...are u ignoring the anarchist part of my personality u wanker??!!

@ Twister

Well said, Scott. The elephant in this room is that people intuitively NEED social interaction, and they are wired for intense stimulation. "Our" culture deprives us of social interaction and intense stimulation. Football and other extreme sports, like masturbation, fill the void. Unfortunately, that filling interferes with fulfilling our potential.

Re: Scott_Marks May 3, 1:07 p.m.

Throughout man's existence, there has been adulation for athletic-like achievements. Roman leaders said all it took to pacify the masses was bread and circuses. In primitive societies, the strongest, fastest, and best-coordinated males were the most successful. Since I am not strong, fast, or well-coordinated, I am happy to be living in current society. Best, Don Bauder

Please don't outlaw masturbation! I won't know what to do with my hands.

There was some political candidate recently -- from Maryland? -- who crusaded against masturbation. She didn't succeed. Best, Don Bauder

u could always go see more movies dark theaters where no one could see..hheheheheheheheee

I assume they would porn theaters, where you would have company in your autoerotic adventure. Best, Don Bauder

Don, Seau's death is not the only casualty of the disease of fan-obsession for football; there is a long history and an accumulation of such events and evidence to which Seau's death could be the event that either tips the bucket over or strikes some leaks in it.

And people are getting smarter--or at least better informed and of a more independent mind, less tolerant of mere tradition (and they are finding other ways to let off steam and even redirect it. True you and I may be fertilizer by the time it happens, but we have only seen the beginning with "Arab Spring" and "Occupy."

Re: dbauder May 3, 2:52 p.m.

I fully agree that we have only seen the beginning of Arab Spring and the Occupy movements. Blame the grossly imbalanced distribution of wealth and income. I question whether people are smarter and better informed. Did you check the statements of the Republican candidates during the many months of campaigning? Best, Don Bauder

And people are getting smarter--or at least better informed

i watched the 2 parter on the banks involvement in the Wall St debacle this week..(.PBS Frontline)...if more people would watch this type of programming instead of football and the yellow "play to corporate America" news media on all the other channels maybe they'd be better informed

and do something about it

Trouble is, Nan, people don't WANT to know they are getting fleeced. In almost 50 years of financial reporting, I have found that scam victims are often in denial long after the miscreant has gone to prison. The same is true of the public; I have written a lot about the close -- often direct -- relationship of pro sports owners and organized crime. People just don't want to hear it, particularly if they are foolish enough to bet on games. Best, Don Bauder

SEAU'S FAMILY WILL ALLOW HIS BRAIN TO BE STUDIED. The Los Angeles Times has reported that Junior Seau's family will permit the former star's brain to be studied for evidence of concussion-related damage, according to Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell. This is positive news. All relevant evidence must be studied if the nation will have an informed discourse on the negative effects of violence in sports such as football and hockey. Best, Don Bauder

Thanks in part to you, Nan. Best, Don Bauder

As of this morning (May 5), the UT is quoting Seau's sister saying that the decision on whether to donate the brain for medical research has not been made. Best, Don Bauder

Even in the nadir of his depression, Seau was thinking of others; in taking his gift to us (his gifted self), he intentionally made his last gift his very brain. That's about as loving and heroic as one can get.

What do we owe our heroes? We owe them respect, and we owe them devotion. We owe them maximum energy toward understanding the part of them that they leave behind, their legacy.

Seau's legacy demands that his fellow sports "heroes" act heroically, not infamously infantile. Seau stood out as an example for young manhood in the process of becoming, an example of what "character" really is. It isn't football or any other sport per se that young people should embrace, but the principles of maturity and social conscience that Seau exemplified. Junior was victimized, pounded for profits, made the means for the ends of others largely or entirely lacking in character, maturity, manhood--as John Gardner put it ". . . the regrettable burdens of a free society."

Will "we" have a sports stand down? Naw, we ain't got the character for it. But will we gain from what Seau sacrificed himself for? A few, perhaps many, but not all. But that's the way it always is--the few lead the many. Be one of the former.

The few do lead the many -- eventually. Look how long it took the Vietnam protests to help people realize that this was a stupid and unethical war. I hope the Occupy message sinks in much more rapidly. Best, Don Bauder

Yes, Don, as P. T. Barnum was fond of saying, "People WANT to be humbugged."

But this is exactly why the likes of you and Seau give of themselves--so that others have an alternative, a direction in which to grow.

Let me tell you this. I have some inkling of what Seau was going through; mental illness is a horrifying thing. Actually having one's brain doing things that one's conscious self does not want it to do is scary enough that the fear feeds on itself--the depths of depression are not something someone who hasn't been there can understand at all. One knows that one's brain is out of control.

No one knows exactly what causes depression, but some hints can be gleaned from experience. In my experience, it has been exceptional people, not "common" people who spiral into the depths; Junior is not the only one. Intelligent and caring people tend to become depressed; they feel trapped and isolated. And they are. The culture which insists upon repression of the finest, most full-of-potential minds creates that kind of milieu, where actual stupidity rules and the bright, the perceptive are ignored--life becomes a dark dungeon of the mind, and it eventually becomes intolerable.

Millicent Lee walked into the sea . . .

Re: dbauder May 4, 11:46 a.m.

It's bad enough just getting old. You can't come up with words as quickly as when you were young; you can't remember names; you go into a room and then wonder, "Why did I come in here?" Those with CTE or other brain injuries suffer 100 times as much. Best, Don Bauder

Maybe the physical damage to Seau's brain can provide evidence that the chaplain can use to resign in protest--if he needs any further evidence.

Incredible irony, hypocrisy, self-righteousness, such are some of the elements of the atmosphere that Seau had to tolerate in life. When death has become the only solution, we all are complicit.

Re: dbauder May 4, 7:12 a.m.

The chaplain, if he is a sensitive person, may be conflicted. It depends upon the results of the tests. Best, Don Bauder

Heh, heh. Yeah, very funny.

People are better informed because they are more widely connected. The Internet, including Wikipedia (not entirely full of errors at least), and other small steps amongst the absurd are growing, slowly, perhaps, but when the critical mass is reached and exponential explosion of greater proportions will render the old ways to the dustbin, irrelevant. With any luck and a lot of determination, the babies will not be thrown out with the bathwater.

Re: dbauder May 4, 8:03 a.m.

As you point out, Twister, there is so much information out there. It's little wonder that daily newspapers, weekly news magazines, network TV, etc. are having deep troubles. Best, Don Bauder

When Junior Seau first signed with the Chargers, for millions. the mother of a football player, who met him, lamented to me, 'Now that young man will never finish his college degree.'. That seemed funny at the time. Her son quit the USC football team and graduated. I think of Ajax and Achilles, and the Greek saying, 'Count no man lucky before the day he dies.'.

All who love football loved him.

If nothing else, the controversy that is likely to be generated will wake up a lot of young people. As Visduh points out, the young should be told the risks before they plunge into football. Best, Don Bauder

Lament the death of a father, son and brother. And as such, his death is no more (and no less) tragic than the death of any other father, son and brother.

Hero worship sucks.

And sports stars really aren't heroes. They are talented entertainers. Wounded war veterans are heroes. Best, Don Bauder

I resemble that remark!

Possibly those with brain damage suffer more than a hundredfold. How much more is perhaps not as important as whether or not one suffers needlessly.

Re: dbauder May 4, 5:10 p.m.

Certainly, they suffer intensively. But that still doesn't make them heroes. Best, Don Bauder

Actual hero-worship "sucks" at all levels, as does any kind of mere mere worship. Heroism does not. Sports "heroes," in the vernacular, are men and women who have set a good example for the rest of us; they are more than mere "notables," who are infamous for their substandard conduct, which can set the wrong kind of example for the rest of us, especially the impressionable young . . .

Re: conanthequasilibertarian May 4, 3:44 p.m. Re: dbauder May 4, 5:57 p.m.

I guess we have a definitional difference here, Twister. To me, a hero has provided exceptional service to mankind. I would not put most sports stars (or movie and TV stars, or business and finance moguls, or politicians) in that category. Best, Don Bauder

And service with no expectation of reward for that particular service.

There was a story on the radio the other day about a mountain climber who scales peaks in hours when other world-class climbers take days. During an interview with one such other climber, Mr. Speed Climber was lauded to the stratosphere. If I had been able to ask the interviewee a question, it would have been "Exactly what good has his climbing done for others that he would warrant such praise for it?"

in the past there have been some financial and political heroes Don

"The young," especially children and adolescents (including those of advanced age) tend not to "wake up" in the face of evidence; denial always lurks in the culturally-suppressed mind, and is a convenient, if fallacious, hedge against reality, especially under peer-pressure.

I don't know why I continue to be astounded at the number of adults who would rather be told what is real than to decide for themselves.

"The young" need to know that their elders who can think "have their backs." Example rather than instruction, but close to it. It's an art to know when hold back and when to put the cards on the table. Example: Don't waste your life with cards at all. As Joaquin's father would say, "Get off your butt and get out there and DO something." Preferably that which is really IN YOU to do.

Re: dbauder May 4, 5:27 p.m.

Cognitive dissonance is ubiquitous. Best, Don Baude

Regarding newspaper troubles, yes, it is a shame that we are going to lose well-funded investigative reporting. Reporters may have to transform into "cyber-monks," devoted to truth and spreading it, and gratefully accepting a bowl of rice from grateful recipients.

On the other hand, newspapers could be transformed, but they remain incalcitrant, unwilling to adapt, blind to the possibilities of new media mixed with old, clinging to the the old model of paternalism. Today's "media consumer" shies away from being told, even, increasingly, the merely sensational. They want (and should have) easy and quick access, not only to the latest in "if it bleeds, it leads," but follow-through and history. The newspapers who clutch their archives behind "paywalls" defy their mission to be a true Fourth Estate. They cry that they can't make enough money, when there is vastly MORE money out there to be made--just not in the way they insist upon retaining despite the evidence.

Re: dbauder May 4, 5:14 p.m.

We can lose print editions of daily newspapers without losing investigative reporting. But such reporting will be tougher. Best, Don Bauder

Being a sports star doesn't make one a hero or a "hero," nor does being a wounded warrior automatically make you one. But we should shoulder our responsibility to protect them both--by not sending them out on the field for our amusement or for revenge in the first place, especially to crouch in a trailer five thousand miles away to slaughter "bad guys" and shrug off collateral damage self-righteously and indifferently just because we are insulated from having to look into the eyes of the ones we kill.

Re: dbauder May 4, 5:57 p.m.

I certainly agree that we could use less sports violence -- and far more importantly, we should send fewer of our young men and women into stupid wars. Best, Don Bauder

Conflicted? CONFLICTED? C O N F L I C T E D?

Le'ssee, "I can stand up against the hands that hand me my largesse, or I can find someplace where I can serve in good conscience." If this guy is conflicted over that, there just might be some conflict with some Commandment . . .

Re: dbauder May 4, 5:12 p.m.

That's the dilemma everyone finds himself/herself in. Should I go along with the status quo, as corrupt as it is, because it is feeding me and my family? Or should I stand up and fight, risking physical comfort? Best, Don Bauder

a friend and i were talking about this blog and she said


"What watershed moment? Are they going to end pro football? No. Will players keep getting head injuries? Yes. The only watershed moment will come when either players refuse to play or watchers refuse to watch. and that's not happening".

changes will be subtle...careful...with long conversations like these commentors are having here...but it takes a while for a tsunami of public opinion to squelch or modify a dangerous activity....

and i 4 one am hopeful that's attainable

The changes will be a long time in coming, but there is a factor few are talking about: insurance. If, say, the NFL loses lawsuits filed by ex-players and their survivors, and insurers raise prices extremely high, or back out, the sport could get into trouble more quickly than any of us now anticipate. Best, Don Bauder

Cigarette smoking has declined from what it was when I grew up choking with two smoker-parents . . .

Yes, cigarette smoking has declined sharply in the U.S. Education has played a role. So have lawsuits. And other factors. Best, Don Bauder

Talking with a friend this morning at breakfast. He suggested going back to leather helmets.

Sounds counterintuitive until you realize that the hard helmets allow harder hitting.

Yes, but players used leather helmets back when Teddy Roosevelt considered banning football because of so many deaths. Best, Don Bauder

wow Don...Teddy considered that??!!

wait a minute...u aint that old!!!

Yes, when Teddy was president in the early part of the 20th century, the many football deaths and injuries, primarily at Ivy League schools, worried him and thought was given to banning the game. I wrote about that in the Reader a couple of years ago. But, Nan, I was not alive then. If I had been, I would be about 107 years old. I only feel like I am 107. Best,, Don Bauder

u r 1 funny bastard matter how old u r

and u have a birthday coming up eh

Happy Birthday laddie

the Pooh in u will always keep u young 4 Nan

Yes, but the question is which alternative results in the least damage. I don't know, and I'd wager that no one does. That means it could be one of many alternatives in a disciplined examination of what should and should not be done.

Re: dbauder May 7, 10:36 p.m.

a pediatric neurosurgeon told me once that he'd had seen a kid that flew out of an open moving car door (driving at 45 miles per hour) not have any real head injury after rolling down the hard pavement

and another kid who fell from a standing position onto sand die with a head injury

it's hard to know isn't it

Again, it's the sudden stop. The operative word is "rolling," not bonking. I'll bet the kid had other types of injuries as a result of the energy being spread out over the rest of his or her body, which absorbed fractions of the total force.

You could be right, Twister. Maybe Nan remembers. Best, Don Bauder

But there seems to be agreement that repetitive head injuries afflict football players -- being hit over and over and over again, in games and in practice. So unusual occurrences such as you cite would not be so statistically relevant. Best, Don Bauder

Something like 1500 former NFL players have filed suit against the NFL, saying the league has not properly taken care of them post-football. There are many kinds of injuries, but many are brain injuries. Best, Don Bauder

I think it would be difficult to compare injuries in the era of leather helmets with injuries in these times. And speaking of comparisons, an interesting Bloomberg story today (May 8) quotes scientists saying that they still don't have enough brains of dead NFL players to come to definitive conclusions on certain topics, although CTE is definitely tied to concussions. That's why they hope the Seau family decides to donate Junior's brain to researchers. The family has still not decided, according to the article. Best, Don Bauder

The forces acting upon a body are complex, but if the pediatrician was implying that a single anecdote proved anything in general, much less in principle, I would get my kid away from him or her immediately!

A priori rejection of a proposition is akin to the denial epidemic that ravages the world. The Shrub used to say things like we don't have enough data to prove this or that if he wanted to resist. With all due respect to "scientists" who don't have enough dead NFL brains (izzat ironic, or what?) to come to "definitive" conclusions--HELLO?--there's something called theoretical foundations, based on pieces of an "unknown" from which plausible conclusions can be drawn. Just how many NFL players have to shoot themselves in the chest to provide “definitive” conclusions? That’s not a FAIR QUESTION?

There is no question that acceleration and deceleration forces that the brain can sustain without permanent injury COMMONLY occur during football games. If this is wrong, please refute.

Now, I have to go out into the garage and fulminate.

Scientists generally say they don't have enough data -- so they need another grant. Best, Don Bauder

actually they don't know exactly why some sustain killing head injuries and others seem to just zoom right thru the blow with little or no damage

as we all know the brain reacts to the laws of physic in exactly the same way as any other object does

it sits encase in a hard bony structure that is suppose to protect it and to some extent it does....however when the skull is hit the brain reacts and begins to flys back and forth banging inside the skull (it flys first toward the hit...the laws of physics u know)

that starts the damage...and every hit after that continues the damage

Again, the repetitive hits may be to blame, say scientists. It is probably true that some players are vulnerable, while others are not. That could be genetic. Best, Don Bauder

It does not take an Einstein (be it Alfred, Albert or Brothers) to conclude that getting whacked in the head repeatedly over the course of several years is bad for you.

We're so lucky that both Albert and Alfred Einstein did not get hit repeatedly in the head. At least, there are no signs that trauma in any way affected either's prodigious output. Best, Don Bauder

if twister dear

u had a child that sustained a head injury in any way at all u'd be GD lucky to have that pediatrician on board to help see him/her thru the episode and back to complete health


Amen. We have friends whose 8 year old was nearly killed by a freak blow to the head. Fortunately, he has made a complete recovery. Best, Don Bauder

Don what's up with the sorta news that the NFL is pressuring the Seau's not to provide Junior's brain 4 study???

is it true that money has been offered to Boston University and the Seaus by the NFL as a motivation not to do the brain studies????

Where did you hear both those rumors? On the day of the suicide, I discussed with my oldest son the possibility that the NFL might pressure the Seau family. He felt that the NFL would not do anything that blatant, only because it might get caught. The rumor about Boston University does not sound plausible. I can't see a research institution doing such a thing -- partly because it might get caught. Please post where you heard these rumors. Best, Don Bauder

i heard it on CNN or HLN Don...actually not heard but saw it on their ticker...a dollar figure was mentioned 4 Boston University...but they said that the NFL had been donating to them and that study area 4 a long time

it was also said that at the time of the autopsy a BU representative was there to take the brain but the NFL pressured the Seaus not to allow it's release

but after that initial news snippet i never heard another word about it again

thought maybe u had

Nan The NFL has been working with the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy since at least late 2009. At the time this was announced, the NFL said it was committed to providing at least $1million to the center. I know that the made that $1 million donation in early 2010 and I believe that they also made a subsequent donation sometime last year. At the time of the announcement in 2009, BU also said it had been working with the NFLPA to help encourage the players to participate in the research. The had already been working with NFL Alumni Association for a while, in hopes that retired players would consider participating in BU's work by offering their brains for study after they die. I seriously doubt that the NFL would have anything to do with pressuring the family of Seau or any other players family for that matter. And I don't think it was anything at all to do with being afraid they would get caught. The NFL has been activly ENCOURAGING players, both current and former, to participate in CTE studies, not discouraging them.

aaaaaaahhhhhhhh OK then must have been YELLOW journalism then...they put a negative spin on the NFL's involvement

as Emily Latella on SNL would say "nevermind"

aaaaaaahhhhhhhh OK then Nan. Your sarcasm has completely underwhelmed me.

Don't be so sure that it was yellow journalism, Nan. Best, Don Bauder

On the other hand, something like 1500 former players with injuries are suing the NFL over the absence of financial help. Similarly, former players are unhappy with the NFLPA because in negotiations it allegedly stresses salaries of current players and neglects the needs of retired players. Does the NFL really want the public to know about brain injuries of current and retired players? It says it does. But.... You have to look at economic motivation. Best, Don Bauder

Thanks, Nan. As I said, when I heard of the Seau suicide, one of the first things I thought of was the possibility that the NFL would try to make sure his brain was not examined. But that would be very risky for the NFL in such a high-profile matter. But the NFL is used to taking risks... Best, Don Bauder

i guess it was the info that a BU staffer was at the autopsy ready to take the brain and was denied it that made me think there might be some truth in it

Nan, I'm curious as to where you got the info that a BU staffer was at the autopsy. From everything that I have read, the only addition person who was at the autopsy was Bennet Omalu, who is a forensic pathologist who has studied CTE in NFL players. I believe that when the coroner's office ruled it officially a suicide after the autopsy, they said they were still waiting on the families decision regarding the dispopsition of the brain and that it wasn't until later that day they made the initial/now rescinded decision to allow to be studied.

"i heard it on CNN or HLN Don...actually not heard but saw it on their ticker...a dollar figure was mentioned 4 Boston University...but they said that the NFL had been donating to them and that study area 4 a long time

it was also said that at the time of the autopsy a BU representative was there to take the brain but the NFL pressured the Seaus not to allow it's release

this where i heard /saw it TomJohnston

If someone who has studied CTE was there, it's easy how to see how it was reported that somebody from BU attended the autopsy. I would sure like to know more about the family's decision-making process -- once it makes a decision. Best, Don Bauder

I haven't heard that a BU staffer was at the autopsy and was denied the brain. But it might be true. Best, Don Bauder

I'm curious Why that would be your first thought when the NFL has been trying to help advance BU's research? Are you that cynical or have you become so completely jaded that you simply can't believe that the NFL,or any other pro sports league, would do anything except something bad. Why is it you think they would do that in Junior Seau's case and not attempt to do so with Dave Duerson's or any of the other 14 former player's brains they have examined?

I believe that Duerson left a note specifying that his brain be examined by researchers. Am I cynical about the NFL and team owners? Yes, I am, for many sound reasons that have accumulated through the years. Best, Don Bauder

my first thought had nothing to do with the circumstances of Junior Seau's brain TomJohnston.

if u knew me u'd know that..i'm considered the Pollyanna of The Reader blogdom...i simply asked Don if he'd heard the same news i did because i know he's brave enough to give an honest answer and he's frequently in the know about such things

You are the poet, not the Pollyanna, Nan. Best, Don Bauder

in future consider carefully any negative remarks u might make about my character TomJohnston based only on ur ill considered opinions

i consider it "flaming" and neither i or The READER tolerates that

We all make negative remarks, Nan. This is a tough-skin blog. Best, Don Bauder

i must admit i rarely have peeps tossing word grenades my way Don..i'll try to follow ur lead and try to toughen up...hahahahahahahahaha

u know i have a strong anarchist attitude about politics...maybe i can call on it when i need 2

sorry i got miffed Tomjohnston...u just didn't realize i really wasn't saying anything negative about the Chargers or the NFL...i was only passing along something i'd heard to see if Don had 2 or if he could clarify it 4 me

and many news agencies have their hands tied about reporting certain kinds of stories

Yes, certain kinds of nuggets don't make it into the news. We try to put such stories on this blog. Best, Don Bauder

There are plenty of negatives to say about the Chargers and the NFL. Go ahead and utter them, Nan. Best, Don Bauder

nah...that's OK...i'm not one 4 complaining...but they can (as i've said many times before in one of ur blogs) head on up Highway 101 or interstate 5 anytime they want as far as i'm concerned

I think it is becoming more and more doubtful that the Chargers or any other team will be going north to LA any time soon. That didn't stop NFL head Goodell from going to Minnesota and warning the suckers there that unless they build a stadium, they could lose the team, perhaps to LA. It was a blatant shakedown. But the Minnesotans caved. Best, Don Bauder

I propose a new handle for you, nan: nan r kist !

here's one 4 u Duhbya...and ~~shush~~that delectable pooh 2

i'm just a sweeter kinder anarchist

I'm sold! Too cute - thanks 4 sharing!

Please forgive my ignorance,nan(being serious here, not sarcastic), but I have re-read all 3 of the comments I directed to you and I'm at a loss as you what you considered a negative remark about your character or what "word grenades I tossed your way. In fact, I don't believe That I even referred to your character at all. So if you could point out to me what you found offensive and an attack on your character, I would be grateful. Again, I'm not being sarcastic, I am serious with my request.

no worries TomJohnston

i was really just being oversensitive (i'm a poet and tend to be that way at times)

forgive me if i created any angst 4 u over this Nan

No angst, Nan. We've actually just gotten home from being on the road to various places the last 3 weeks or so and I just started catching up on things in general. Since 2 of my comments were basically just adding some info about the BU studies and what I had heard involving the autopsy, the only thing I could figure was that you didn't like my comment about your underwhelming sarcasm. And you really don't strike me as being that sensitive, so I was/am puzzled about those "word hand grenades". BTW, the reports have been circulating since last week that insomnia had been a problem for Junior for years, possibly as many as 10 yrs. I know that sleeping disorders can be common in people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. But I have read quite a bit on the BU studies since Seau's death and I don't recall chronic insomnia as one of the common symptoms of the individuals whose brains have been studied. And until or unless his family agrees to have his brain examined, which right now seems to be less and less likely, we will never know if, or what Seau brain traumas actually he suffered. At this point, it doesn't seem unreasonable that his suicide could be unrelated to brain injury. By most reports. he didn't display any of the other outward symptoms that guys like Dave Duerson, Ray Easterling, Terry Long or Andre Waters did. It's possible that the anxiety caused by the years of poor sleep, combined with the effects of years of misuse/overuse of zolpidem were responsible. The truth is, because there was no suicide note, no matter what test result might come, it's doubtful we will ever know the truth.

unfortunately Ambien will put u to sleep but won't keep u asleep...a mild antidepressant like Trazadone would have managed his insomnia much better with no side effects

few people commit suicide because of insomnia however

i agree that no one may ever get to the bottom of it

The key here is the phrase manage his insomnia. He wasn't managing it. Everything I have read says he was taking the Ambien without regard to how it should be used; basically he was misusing it. I wasn't trying to make it sound as if he committed suicide because of the insomnia. More along the lines that the anxiety from the insomnia combined with the side effects of misusing the other drugs for years any have contributed to depression and possibly suicidal thoughts.

we can speculate tomjohnston but in fact none of us will ever know (without a careful review of his brain tissue) what may or may not be the causative factors in Junior Seau's suicide

even then there's no perfect answer to what his reasons were to take his own life

Public statements are commonly made to mold public opinion, and the safe presumption until more actual information is at hand is that such remarks are made with a wink-wink, a blink-blink, and a nod. Don't forget that the "real" world is Alice in Wonderland where bad is good and good is bad and everything else is topsy-turvy. It's a Barnum and Bailey world . . .

That the NFL is donating millions to provide evidence that football is wrecking brains may be the wackiest thing I've heard from DB is many a moon . . .

It's called "scientific" window-dressing, folks! "Further research" is always needed after every study--that proliferating nest parasite, the yellow-bellied grantsnatcher, is far from an endangered species.

Re: nan May 12, 12:32 p.m. and subsequent comments

Good points, Twister -- another way of saying, "Don't believe what you read in the newspapers," particularly if the paper you read is completely biased. Incidentally, I still do not know whether the Seau family has decided to donate Junior's brain to researchers. If the family decides not to make the donation, there will be a wave of skepticism around the country that could make things even worse for the NFL -- engulf it in cynicism, in fact, fouling the league's own nest. Best, Don Bauder

hey journalist... thought i'd tell u about this premiering this summer on HBO

could be amusing

It's like Watt's "circle of sex" clock analogy. Really, really clever is at 11:59, and really, really stupid is at 12:01.

That which is most advertised is least to be believed. "Methinks the NFL doth protest too much," as Ole Bill might say.

You spoke of Ole Bill. Recently I learned that it wasn't he who said "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." As I recall, it was Congreve. Best, Don Bauder

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