Connecting Concussion to Domestic Violence inside the NFL

by Michelle Sports X


“The film does a nice job of educating the public that this is a very complicated subject.” –Dr Stephen Bloom [ medical director of the Sports Concussion Program at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan 

It’s not as though I expected the commissioner of the National Football League to take me seriously when I took the time to write him a note and mail him a copy of my degree from Boston University, coupled with a copy of my certificate in advanced threat assessment and management, but I have to admit that deep down I was hopeful. Perhaps in the same way one used to sit impatiently by the phone wishing it would ring, I had a small glimmer of hope that I would one day hear from Mr. Goodell and he would be calling to invite me to share a Coca-Cola with him, and talk with me about how the National Football League has taken concussion injuries seriously, and share how it’s working hard to remain true to its commitment to maintain integrity. So far my phone has yet to ring, and it’s not as though I’ve gotten word from the NFL via Twitter (or any other form of social media), so it’s probably safe to say my letter might have fallen on deaf ears.   Maybe it’s buried somewhere in the executive offices on Park Avenue, perhaps somewhere with the video of Ray Rice knocking out his then fiancé, Janay Palmer [now his wife, Janay Rice].

Of course, it’s not as though I needed a personal response. My letter was not really about me and I would have been perfectly happy to watch how the National Football League focused on improving its stance on uncontrolled violence, and in particular domestic violence matters, from afar.

So how has the NFL done with getting its players to understand and practice the art of self-restraint off the field? According to several media reports, including one by Mike Rosenberg of the San Jose Mercury News, the NFL finished the month of September without any player arrests. Fast forward to December 21, 2015 and although arrest records seem to be down overall, suspended Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon just got arrested for a fourth time. Only to be fair, Blackmon’s arrests are for substance abuse and he claims that although he was drinking at a local bar prior to being pulled over in Oklahoma; he only had “just two drinks.”

When it comes to uncontrolled violence on the part of NFL players, perhaps more attention needs to be paid to what’s happening on the field, as well as, what’s happening off. For at the time of this writing, what’s trending in the NFL, according to ESPN is “more fallout from Odell Beckham Jr.’s suspension. “ Additionally, ESPN just reported that the coach of the Panthers “will no longer allow his team to bring baseball bats onto the field before games.” Wait, what? No doubt players were using the bats to hit balls, but it’s a pretty scary thought to think about what could happen if things got out of control.

So what are we to make of all of this violence both on and off the field by grown men who clearly should know better? As many of us look forward to the movie Concussion which makes it’s way into the movie theater this Christmas, many of us who have been following the National Football League closely, will see what we already know. Others might be awakened to what’s been happening inside the National Football League and perhaps many might make the same connection that I made back when I was a student at Boston University, about how the residual affects of brain trauma should not be under-estimated and most likely they are considerable factors that can lead to inability to control impulses thus resulting in acts of domestic violence.

Questions like how alcohol might affect those who play in the NFL and might have an impaired brain are just some of the questions researchers should be looking at to better understand how to look.


ESPN Online [ ]

Rosenberg, Mike [ on Twitter @RosenbergMerc, ]

Wenzel, Matt [ West Michigan doctor calls ‘Concussion’ movie an ‘a-ha’ moment for football players, coaches