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Will Political Division and CTE Kill New England’s Love of the Patriots?

Monday, September 25, 2017

 

The National Football League has dominated American sports and culture for the past 25 years. An estimated 111 million Americans watched the Super Bowl last February, but the combination of mounting scientific data that football is severely damaging the brains of its players, coupled with a weekend of political division over patriotism and civil disobedience sparked outrage from all corners of America.

At Gillette Stadium, 17 members of the Super Bowl New England Patriots knelt during the National Anthem and were booed by Patriots fans. Many fans chanted, “Stand up” to the players.

Booing the hometown Patriots team has been unheard of for New England fans over the past two decades, which yielded seven trips to the Super Bowl and five championships.

Trump as Factor, But Kaepernick Came First

In the summer of 2016, then-San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick knelt down during the National Anthem. He said at the time, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

President Donald Trump blasted the NFL players who don’t stand in honor. At a speech on Friday in Alabama, Trump said, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now?'"

In response to Trump, Patriots owner Bob Kraft entered into the fray, just hours before kick-off on Sunday. 

"I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday. I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities. Their efforts, both on and off the field, help bring people together and make our community stronger. There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics," said Kraft. "I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal. Our players are intelligent, thoughtful and care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful."

CTE’s Impact on Children, Seau, Turner and Now, Hernandez

Hernandez on trial

Meanwhile, despite the building scientific data on the impact of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), Patriots fans seem to be immune to dangers to players.

Former Patriot Junior Seau committed suicide and it is believed that his depression was tied to CTE. Former Patriot fullback Kevin Turner died of CTE although he was suffering from ALS as well.

At the time, Dr. Ann McKee of Boston University said In a statement, "The severity of Mr. Turner's CTE was extraordinary and unprecedented for an athlete who died in his 40s. While he had typical cognitive symptoms and problems with impulse control associated with CTE, it also appears that CTE decimated the motor cortex of his brain at a young age, likely leading to his ALS symptoms.” 

This past week, the autopsy on once-convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez found that he suffered from severe CTE.  Hernandez committed suicide in his cell. His conviction was voided after his suicide as he had appeals pending.

"Mr. Hernandez had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Stage 3 out of 4, (Stage 4 being the most severe). This diagnosis was confirmed by a second VABHS neuropathologist. In addition, Mr. Hernandez had early brain atrophy and large perforations in the septum pellucidum, a central membrane,” said McKee.

Hernandez’s family have filed a lawsuit against the NFL seeking damages for Hernandez’s CTE.

A new study from researchers from Boston University on CTE found an association between participation in youth tackle football before age 12 and impaired mood and behavior later in life. The study appears in Nature's Translational Psychiatry.

Junior Seau committed suicide

The study looked at 214 former American football players, including 43 who played only through high school and 103 who played only through college. The average age of the former players at the time of the study was 51. 

According to researchers, participants received telephone-administered cognitive tests and completed online measures of depression, behavioral regulation, apathy and executive functioning (initiating activity, problem-solving, planning and organization). Results from former players who started playing tackle football before the age of 12 were compared against those of participants who started playing at age 12 or later.

"This study adds to growing research suggesting that incurring repeated head impacts through tackle football before the age of 12 can lead to a greater risk for short- and long-term neurological consequences," said Michael Alosco, PhD, lead-author of the study and a post-doctoral fellow at BU.

 

Related Slideshow: The 17 Patriots Players Who Knelt During National Anthem

Prev Next

Name: Devin McCourty

Position: Safety 

College: Rutgers 

Hometown: Nanuet, N.Y.

Salary: $47,500,000 Over 5 Years 

Prev Next

Name: Malcolm Butler 

Position: Cornerback 

College:  West Alabama 

Hometown: Vicksburg, Mississippi

Salary: $3.91 Million for 2017 Season

Prev Next

Name: Stephon Gilmore

Position: Cornerback

College: South Carolina 

Hometown: Rock Hill, South Carolina 

Salary: $65,000,000 Over 5 Years

Prev Next

Name: Brandin Cooks 

Position: Wide Receiver 

College: Oregon State 

Hometown: Stockton, California 

Salary:  $8,383,452 Over 4 Years

Prev Next

Name: Dont'a Hightower

Position: Linebacker 

College: Alabama 

Hometown: Lewisburg, Tennessee 

Salary: $35,500,000 Over 4 Years

Prev Next

Name: Lawrence Guy

Position: Defensive Line

College: Arizona State 

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Salary: $13,400,000 Over 4 Years

Prev Next

Name: Johnson Bademosi

Position: Cornerback 

College: Stanford 

Hometown: Washington, D.C. 

Salary:  $4,500,000 Over 2 Years

Prev Next

Name: Alan Branch

Position: Defensive Line 

College: Michigan 

Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico 

Salary: $8,450,000 Over 2 Years 

Prev Next

Name: Brandon King

Position: Safety 

College: Auburn 

Hometown: Alabaster, Alabama

Salary: $615,000 for 2017 Season

Prev Next

Name: Malcom Brown

Position: Defensive Line  

College: Texas 

Hometown: Brenham, Texas

Salary: $7,613,229 Over 4 Years

Prev Next

Name: Deatrich Wise

Position: Defensive End 

College: Arkansas

Hometown: Suffolk, VA

Salary: $2,975,883 Over 4 Years 

Prev Next

Name: Adam Butler

Position: Defensive Line 

College: Vanderbilt 

Hometown: Duncanville, Texas

Salary: $1,665,000 Over 3 Years

Prev Next

Name: Trey Flowers 

Position: Defensive Line

College: Arkansas 

Hometown: Huntsville, Alabama

Salary: $2,838,932 Over 4 Years

Prev Next

Name: Elandon Roberts 

Position: Linebacker 

College: Houston

Hometown: Port Arthur, Texas

Salary: $2,440,356 Over 4 Years

Prev Next

Name: James White 

Position: Running Back 

College: Wisconsin

Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Salary: $12,000,000 Over 3 Years

Prev Next

Name: Duran Harmon 

Position: Safety 

College: Rutgers 

Hometown: Magnolia, Delaware

Salary: $17,000,000 Over 4 years

Prev Next

Name: Jordan Richards 

Position: Safety 

College: Stanford 

Hometown: Sacramento, CA

Salary: $3,711,548 Over 4 Years

 
 

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