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Benny Paper

In: Business and Management

Submitted By Nduwa
Words 2269
Pages 10
Benny Nduwayo
Peter Beyer
Eng Comp
26 February 2015
Mike Webster
Concussions have been a big problem since the day the NFL started. People did not know how dangerous football was until the crisis of Mike Webster broke out in the 90s. He played for Pittsburgh, played in the center, and wore number 52. By wearing that number he knew he obviously had to be the toughest player on the field. By playing in the center, there was no glory for Mike Webster. It was play after play while going in head to head with other players. Most guys play for 6 years or so, and then retire but that was not the case for Mike Webster. He played for 17 years in a dangerous game that he loved a lot. After he retired from the NFL, he was a different person than he was before he started playing in the NFL. Pam Webster recalled, “To see his brain declining years later was such a sad thing, because he was incredibly smart, and what I've said the boys have this gift that they see detail that no one else picks up on, and Mike had that gift.”
During a football game, sometimes Mike would see someone flexing, moving, and he would then draw them off to the side just by moving his body. He basically knew where everything was on the field. If you were to look for that in his old films when he was playing, you would see mike notice something like that play, and he would turn to Terry Bradshaw and tell him to change the play. Mike was the master of the game for sure. Mike’s ex-wife Pam Webster, said in League of Denial that she had more respect for Mike than any player on the field. Mike’s ex-wife really loved him even though she knew for sure that the NFL had changed mike forever. It is not crazy that Mike’s ex-wife believed that the NFL would change her husband. Mike Webster himself started noticing how much he had changed because sometimes he would feel good and not know what to do. He would sometimes realize that he had forgot to put on a jacket. Life became hard for Mike Webster after football.
Mike became the player that he was by working hard. He had great strength and great width on his body. Of course he was not born with it. Like everyone else Mike had to work hard to play as hard as he did in the NFL. Everything that Mike did to make it to the NFL came from not giving up his dream of playing in the professional football. He always went after what he wanted and that is what made him special. During training time, he was always there to help out anyone who needed help with an injury or wanted to get better with their workouts. To be honest, Mike was an amazing player and a great guy. To see someone as gifted as him lose his life over a game that he loved, is sad. This world does not always bring a happy ending for people.
Eleven years after playing in the NFL, Mike Webster passed away at the age 50. The autopsy showed heart disease signs. There was a lot brain damage. After retiring from the NFL, he had quite a hard time having straight conversations with people. In fact, in one live TV interview that was in League of Denial, you could tell that he sometimes forgot what he wanted to say next. For example, in an interview, mike got asked, “Aren’t you Mike Webster? Mike, I used to be”. He always started out good whenever he talked. It almost looked as if he was going to say something interesting but then he would pause in between a sentence like he was forgot something.
Bennitt Omulu, an expert Nigerian, brain doctor, stated in League of Denial that playing in the NFL for 17 years destroyed Mike. He looked beat up, drained, worn out, and looked like a 70 year old man. Bennett Omulu stated that if he did not know who Mike Webster was, he would have mistaken him for being a 70 year old man. In the autopsy room, Mike’s feet had cracks and he basically had to duct tape them. His teeth were starting to fall out so he super glued them. His heart was large and his forehead was attached to his scalp. He had a lot of scar tissue. In the autopsy room, there were also signs of a brain disorder shown. Mike Webster had signs of Alzheimer's disease.
The doctors had some issues with his brain. Mike Webster’s brain looked normal, but the doctors were expecting it to look different, and they wanted to know why it looked normal. Mike Webster’s whole body was so damaged that they did not know how he survived the whole time he was playing with his injuries in the NFL. After doing a lot research, the doctors found that Mike had a chronic disease. The doctors said that playing in the NFL caused his brain to get damaged. His brain was just damaged because he had way too many concussions in his career of playing in the NFL. The research on Mike Webster’s brain changed the NFL forever.
According to a December 2010 analysis in the Journal of Pediatrics. in U.S. hospital emergency rooms, 144,000 people at the age of 18 or younger are treated for concussions every year. Almost a third of these injuries happen while kids or 18 years old are playing organized sports like football, soccer, and ice hockey. 40 percent of pediatric concussions that are seen in emergency rooms involve high school students. Younger children have a slightly higher percentage of concussions seen in the emergency rooms. Concussions are most common in ice hockey, football , wrestling, soccer and other sports overall, and more boys suffer concussions than girls (The Editors). Sally Jenkins has stated that the “NFL has become a public health issue, and that’s not an overstatement.” The NFL is spending $45 million to sponsor tackle football for children. The league needs to stop encouraging kids kids that football is safe because it is not. They need to figure out a way to make football safer.
Sometimes coaches pressure their players to keep playing even if they are injured. Even the players themselves lie to their coaches that they are not injured in order to keep playing in a game. For example, James Carroll remembers his coach wafting a cracked ammonia stick under his nose and moving his finger in front of his eyes. James Carroll had been tackled down really hard. Apparently he was slow at getting back up on his feet, but he still insisted on telling his coach that he was okay to play. The coach asked him, who was the president, but his was not clear. The coach slapped him on the shoulder and told him to go back in the next play. Coaches need to start telling their players to suck it up and sit down if they are injured and if they see any sign of a concussion. A concussion over another concussion can cause some brain damages.
On a professional level, sometimes it is the money and the love for the game that drives players to keep playing with concussions. Mr. Coyne, 6-foot-3, played the defensive end and tight end for four years in high school. Coyne received 5 concessions from playing high school football and other sports combined. He was suppose to continue playing football after high school, but then he got a sixth concussion in a preseason practice during his freshman year in college. “His symptoms were so severe and protracted that he had to rely on an independent note-taker and take Ritalin for wandering attention for three semesters.” Coyne knew that he was finished with football. “Mr. Coyne, whose concussions came not just from football but from hitting his head on a pole standard during a high jump and from rough-housing in the locker room, said that this, his junior year”, in college. It was the first in which he felt he was free from concussion symptoms. He did not have to rely on extensive accommodations anymore (Hoffman).
The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council made an extensive report for sports related concussions in young people, with some recommendations that includes bolstering research, collecting data, examining injury protocols and educating the public. But what was interesting about the report was the way the report identified one particularly stubborn challenge. The report clearly states that we live in a culture of resistance, especially among high school and college athletes. High school and college athletes have a high chance of being told by their coaches to shrug off their invisible injuries and return to the field immediately. I have played soccer since I was 5 and I can say one thing, some coaches would do anything to keep their players in a game so they can win. Coaches need to understand that at a high school, college, and professional level, safety for athletes needs to be required. Athletes need to be taken care of when their injured in any type of way because any injury can almost always lead to some serious health issues for the future (Hoffman).
There was a point in Mike Webster’s life after the NFL, in 1991, where he went homeless for a while. He ended up living in a pickup truck after his 27 year marriage with Pam Webster ended. Mike became angry and increasingly confused. He sometimes was dangerous to be around especially around his kids. He would lose his temper quickly for the smallest things. Mike Webster’s life was falling apart and the bills of his house were so overdue. Mike Webster was losing his mind. He ended up prosecuting the NFL and drew up a disability claim because he knew he needed help. The NFL hired their own doctor, Edward Westbrook who then took some time to check to see if Mike Webster's case was true, that playing in the NFL caused his brain to damage. After doing some research, Westbrook agreed that his brain being damage was caused by playing in the NFL. This case concluded that playing in the NFL can cause dementia which ended leading Mike Webster to his death in 2002.
After his death, the NFL did not want to make the truth about Mike Webster’s death public. The NFL feared that if 10 percent of moms in the United States started believing that playing in the NFL can cause brain damage that would have been the end of football. The NFL was told by doctors that brain damage was a big issue in the NFL. For an example, Harry Carson went against Mike Webster multiple times during games. Harry Carson was a big guy and he was really strong. He was also a really good player. He is considered a New York Giants Legend. Just imagine how dangerous it would have been to go against Harry Carson during a game. That is not an experience I would have wanted to experience if I was Mike Webster. If a player gets a concussion during a game but then continues to play the whole game with a concussion that can damage your brain Even further. This is why the NFL should never forget that brain damage is a serious issue in football. Issues with the NFL and brain damage did not hit the media until in 2007.
To be honest, Steve Young had a good point on why having the knowledge to know that football can cause brain damage is great thing, by saying, "Holy cow, is this something that I need to really pay attention to?" And I think that's what I'm grateful for, is knowledge is power with anything. Steve Young also mentioned that, he believes if a lot people knew that playing football can cause brain damage, it would not be the end of football but rather a new turn for football because a lot families who have kids want their kids to be safe. Knowing this knowledge might end helping football to become a safer game for everyone. The life of Mike Webster was educational for the NFL because it made them aware of brain damage and brain safety.

Work Cited
Carroll, James. "Football Concussions: The Problem Lies at the Heart of the Sport - The Boston Globe." BostonGlobe.com. BostonGlobe.com, 7 Jan. 2013. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.

Jenkins, Sally. "How NFL Has Become the Coal Industry, and Why Congress Must Intervene." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 1 Oct. 2014. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.

League of Denial. Dir. Michael Kirk. Perf. Will Lyman, Harry Carson, Steve Fainaru. 8 OCT. 2013. Film. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.

Robert Graham, Frederick P. Rivara, Morgan A. Ford, and Carol Mason Spicer, Editors. "Sports-Related Concussions in Youth: Improving the Science, Changing the Culture." Sports-Related Concussions in Youth: Improving the Science, Changing the Culture. The National Academies Press, 30 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.

The Editors. "Concussion Is a Serious Problem for Child Athletes." Scientific American Global RSS. Scientific American Global RSS, 15 Jan. 2012. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

Wikipedia. "Mike Webster." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Feb. 2015. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.

Hoffman, Jan. "'Don't Tell Coach': Playing Through Concussions." Well Don't Tell Coach Playing Through Concussions Comments. The New York Times, 05 Nov. 2013. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.…...

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