Will Political Division and CTE Kill New England’s Love of the Patriots?
Monday, September 25, 2017
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
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.
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.