Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – The whole thing is just an outcrop, I think, of our obsession with violence, whether it’s movies, whether it’s sports. We ask for this stuff and the NFL delivers it. We ask for it and college sports delivers it. This is exactly what the American public wants, and that’s the sadness of it. Now you’ve got a bunch of NFL players walking around like feral zombies who don’t know right from wrong, don’t even know who their family members are, waging these lawsuits. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: We have this latest black cloud that’s hanging over professional football, which comes in the form of a lawsuit filed by the Seau family on behalf of their dearly departed son Junior, who is now believed to have died of CTE, brain injury. Continual concussive blows to your noggin and not being properly diagnosed, you just keep doing it until you end up like Muhammad Ali or you wind up like Junior Seau and some other players, putting a gun into your heart and killing yourself so your brain can be preserved and studied. I don’t think this is going away.
Since I live here in New Orleans and this is where the Super Bowl is, this just rubs salt in the wound. It was the goal of the NFL, I think, to stop the impetus and stop the momentum, stop the inertia on the lawsuit by throwing up my city, the City of New Orleans, and the New Orleans Saints as sacrificial lambs so the NFL can say: No, we care about this brain injury stuff. Look, we practically shut the whole city of New Orleans football franchise down. We did everything we did to kill them. Had it not been for the herculean heroic efforts of one Andrew Brees, they would have lost all 16 games. We tried. We’re doing everything we can to snuff this out. The City of New Orleans bore the brunt of the NFL’s being the fall guy, the scapegoat for the brain injury lawsuit.
There are 3,318 former players now suing. The latest is now the family of Junior Seau. Congress will get involved with this. You know what that means. If you think people are brain dead or brain damaged from playing football today, just wait till the House of Representin’ starts micromanaging it. They’re going to bring an expert in on this. You say that the piece in The Atlantic, the way they’re talking about divvying up the proceeds, if there is a settlement, is not going to work and they’re using an incorrect analogy by using the 9/11 families. Can you explain?
AG: A lot of the argument is that the players know what they’re getting into when they step on the field; therefore, any kind of injuries that occurred within should be accepted as part of the hazards of pay and the lawsuit should be dismissed on those grounds. There are a couple thoughts. One is that by having independent neurological doctors on the sidelines for the concussion tests is that those doctors are supposed to see past players’ bluffing and take almost a parental view of the player and be completely independent of the team and player so as to protect their health in the future. You have to take that responsibility away from the players and teams in terms of diagnosing head injuries. I guess leg injuries or ribs or what have you would possibly fall under a different category. When you’re involving the brain, it’s a completely different set of circumstances and the lasting impact is far different than, say a torn meniscus.
In that sense, I think it’s hard to say players know what they’re getting themselves into. On one hand that’s correct, but the doctors are supposed to be independent of both the team’s wellbeing in terms of winning and losing and the players’ wellbeing in terms of I have to stay on the field because I need to get that next contract. An average NFL career is only three and a half seasons long. I think it’s kind of hard to argue that players know full well what they’re getting themselves into. When you’re knocked unconscious, you don’t know what’s going on.
Mike: How do you know what’s going on when you can’t see, when you’re on your way to the locker room on a gurney?
AG: The Atlantic article cites a commentator that compares it to the 9/11 firefighters. I just don’t think, in terms that they know that’s a risk when they gave their lives to save others. I just don’t think that’s an apt comparison. If you do make that comparison, then you say those firefighters’ families should in no way have a lawsuit or be receiving any kind of benefit or settlements which they have. I don’t buy that argument at all.
Mike: Here’s the issue, as I see it, with the brain damage and the helmets and the whole scandal or controversy. This has basically arisen from — I would say the public is just as culpable for this as the NFL is, although since the NFL is running the league they have the carte blanche to do something about it. This has basically been brought about by the gladiatorial lust of the American sports fan to see violent damage done to fellow men, whether it’s on the battlefield in Iraq or Afghanistan or whether it’s in the NFL watching one man fling himself down the field at 25 to 30 miles an hour using his head as a battering ram to take out or knock out another man. You can’t say you don’t stand up and cheer and go, “Yeah! Did you see that hit!?” You can’t say that ESPN and all the other sports networks haven’t glorified this. At one point in time, it was the highlight reel. Whoever got knocked out was the start of the day. Whoever did the knocking out was the bigger star. The entire sorry episode, which now leaves in its wake — this is the tragedy.
It now leaves in its wake thousands of men who have played the sport who were not apprised that they could wander around aimlessly in their later years depressed, half brain dead and all the other maladies that befall those who have suffered CTE, this concussive brain damage. There couldn’t have been full disclosure. They couldn’t have known this. Of course, the players say they did know. I just think it’s sad. If you want to have gladiators, then we ought to get about the business of gladiators. If you guys really want to cause some damage, take the helmets off. Let’s see how tough you are now, Jack Tatum. Let’s see how tough you are now. Any one of the headhunters that’s an NFL player today –
AG: Bernard Pollard.
Mike: Okay, Pollard, let’s see how tough you are with a leather helmet. Let me see you launch yourself now at that man with nothing to protect. Let’s see what a big, tough man you are now. The whole thing is just an outcrop, I think of our obsession with violence, whether it’s movies, whether it’s sports. We ask for this stuff and the NFL delivers it. We ask for it and college sports delivers it. This is exactly what the American public wants, and that’s the sadness of it. Now you’ve got a bunch of NFL players walking around like feral zombies who don’t know right from wrong, don’t even know who their family members are, waging these lawsuits. Could you not agree to say maybe it’d be a good idea if you didn’t create any more of these, or if you did at least you created them in the FZL, the Future Zombie League? If you play in this league and use your helmet as a battering ram, there’s a pretty good chance you’re not going to be able to put two and two together in 15 years. Here, we’ll pay you X-amount of dollars for your gladiatorial service. Thank you very much. Buh-bye.
End Mike Church Show Transcript