how to trivialize a story with one word

Posted on February 2nd, 2007 by Scraps.
Categories: Media, Sports, Words.

ESPN is running a story about ex-New England Patriot linebacker Ted Johnson's concussion related health problems from a front page link with the headline "Ex-Pats linebacker blames Belichick for depression".

Within the story, we discover what "depression" means:

Ted Johnson said coach Bill Belichick subjected him to hard hits in practice while he was recovering from a concussion -- against the advice of the team's top trainer. [...] [A]fter sustaining additional concussions over the next three seasons, he now forgets people's names, misses appointments and suffers from depression and an addiction to amphetamines. [...] After returning to game action, the linebacker sustained more concussions of varying severity over the following three seasons, each of them exacerbating the next, according to his current neurologist, Dr. Robert Cantu. Cantu told the Times he was certain that Johnson's problems "are related to his previous head injuries, as they are all rather classic postconcussion symptoms." He added, "They are most likely permanent." Cantu, the chief of neurosurgery and director of sports medicine at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass., also said Johnson shows signs of early Alzheimer's disease. "The majority of those symptoms relentlessly progress over time," Cantu said. "It could be that at the time he's in his 50s, he could have severe Alzheimer's symptoms."

I wonder how many ESPN visitors see the link, roll their eyes at the idea of an ex-player blaming a coach for depression, and don't read the piece.



Comment on February 2nd, 2007.

But didn't he have the option not to practice with the concussion? If nothing else, he could have made some sort of league action against practicing.


Comment on February 2nd, 2007.

Technically, yes; but the coach is the Number One Authority that a professional player deals with. If a coach tells you to do something, you do it, or your career could be in jeopardy. Especially in the National Football League, which has the weakest union in American professional sports, and puts the highest value on being a Tough Guy.

RJ Johnson

Comment on February 2nd, 2007.

Frankly, I'm amazed no one has sued the NFL and the NFLPA on the grounds of unnecessary workplace hazards and unsafe conditions. I know I've seen studies showing the life expectancy of NFL players is something like a decade shorter than the average.


Comment on February 2nd, 2007.

Indeed, one of the things I always bring up when people speak of the health hazards of steroids is the fact that a career in football already does clear damage to a player's life.


Comment on February 3rd, 2007.

There have been quite a few stories during the run-up to the Super Bowl talking about what a terrible job the NFLPA has done helping ex-players get disability coverage. One thing I've heard almost every ex-player they've interviewed say is, "we knew the risks when we decided to play." So I think it would be difficult to sue on the grounds of workplace hazards since the hazards are well-known beforehand.

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