Wednesday, 6 June 2012


I appeared on the Radio 5 documentary The Brain Game last night, and it's available (for a week, and within the UK only) on BBC IPlayer, you can link to it here. Mark Chapman hosted, with Yahoo Sports' Jason Cole and me as guests, and we discussed the sad fate of Mike Webster, which prompted the recognition of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) and the ongoing concerns raised by our growing awareness of the injuries football players carry with them.

Producer Simon Clancy assembled some fantastic interviews, including one with Webster's son, who spoke of using a taser on his father so he could black out and relieve his pain, with Harry Carson, who contemplated suicide and now would not want his grandson to play football, and with Ricky Williams, who while denying the longtime problem described what he does to give his body time to recover. We didn't discuss the possible uses of medical marijuana. Simon also had the famous audio of Saints' coach Gregg Williams telling his players to attack Frank Gore's head. It allowed me to point out to Mark a moment when I spotted what I thought was a deliberate attempt to injure a player during the Super Bowl we broadcast on BBC television last February.

It's a subject we could easily have spent twice the time on, to venture into other sports, into the legal ramifications of the various lawsuits against the NFL, and to discuss the various other factors which might play into the conditions of former players. It was also fascinating for me to put my own experience, in the limited context of high school and division III football, into the discussion; but at one point, as I searched for a word, I started to wonder if the 20 or so years of playing lacrosse and taking faceoffs might have added to some toll as well.

Have a listen; it's a good show.

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