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Retired Giants DE Michael Strahan “Concerned” About Brain Disease After 15 Years in NFL

January 10th, 2013 at 3:30 PM
By Dan Benton

Slightly more than eight months removed from his shocking and unexpected suicide, test results done on the brain of former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau have yielded concerning results. Scientists who conducted tests on Seau's brain announced on Thursday that the Pro Bowler suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease thought to be brought on by two decades of violence in the NFL.

Upon hearing the news, retired New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan gave some serious thought to his playing days and what the future may hold for him.

“Of course it [concerns me]. Personally I feel great but wonder if (one) day I wake up and that has changed. Just read about Seau's results and [it's] scary," Strahan told CBS Sports.

With safety now a primary concern league-wide, knowledge is rapidly being spread amongst players. No longer can an athlete say he was unaware of the potential effects from such a violent game. Thus, one must now choose between the luxury brought on by a successful NFL career and the potential medical issues that lay in wait long after retirement.

Still, Strahan doesn't think the decision is a difficult one to make, and has no regrets about his 15 years in the NFL.

"I don't think you have to make a choice," said Strahan. "Have yet to see anybody say they'd change a thing about playing. Loved every second but it's a crapshoot just like life."

Despite many advancements in helmet technology, the ability to prevent brain injuries remains elusive. For the foreseeable future, the aforementioned "choice" is one all athletes will have to make as they enter the NFL.

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Tags: Football, Junior Seau, Michael Strahan, New York, New York Giants, NFL, San Diego, San Diego Chargers

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13 Responses to “Retired Giants DE Michael Strahan “Concerned” About Brain Disease After 15 Years in NFL”

  1.  fanfor55years says:

    You’d have to be nuts to NOT be concerned.

    The league needs to do certain things:

    1) Put lots of money into helmet innovations (for ALL levels of play, not just the NFL);

    2) Start suspending for at least a year the headhunters who remain in the game if they make a helmet-to-helmet hit after a second warning;

    3) Insist that the teaching of tackling, starting at the Pop Warner level, is based upon using your shoulder, not your helmet. And don’t tell those of us who have been fans for years that such technique is not possible or is boring. Go back and loo at Ray Nitsche, LT, Dick Butkus and others and you will see classic, safe but violent tackling. It hurt when those guys hit you, but they didn’t need to go head-hunting to do it;

    4) Get high school officials signed on to throw kids out of games if they even hit helmet-to-helmet once, and then get high school athletic directors to agree on nation-wide suspension policies for a kid who does it twice (I think losing an entire season of tam eligibility would be sufficient to stop kids from doing it).

    There’s more, but those things could be done immediately, and should be. You can all complain about how pvssified the game is becoming, but I disagree. I remember lots of rock-em-sock-em play in the NFL that did not include the helmet-to-helmet hitting. That kind of stuff really started to come about in the Jack Tatum days and should have been stopped then. That guy was a very good player, but also a thug. And so are all the modern day players who still play the game to intimidate and consequently damage someone instead of just hurting them.

    Flame away, but I want my grandchildren to be able to be great NFL and Giants fans. I want the game to thrive. It won’t if a good percentage of the players know they’re risking an awful lot of bad years in exchange for short-term glory, and if their parents know that when their kids first want to take up the sport.

  2.  Krow says:

    It used to be called ‘spearing’ … and it was illegal. But somehow that all changed … or was forgotten. And there slamming, knock-out blows replaced form tackles.

    It wasn’t this way until I believe sometime in the 80′s. I think players like Jack Tatum and Ronnie Lott popularized it.

    This … the history of it all … might be a good topic.

  3.  Barbarossa says:

    I was actually having a discussion with a friend of mine the other day about the helmet issue and we came up with an interesting idea, why not remove helmets from football all together? Now bear with me I know this sounds crazy but if any of you watch Rugby you know that it is indeed possible to play a high speed physical game that involves large men tackling each other without giant smashing devices strapped to their head. It’s not difficult to make an argument that helmets are actually making our football players less safe rather than more, after all if you don’t have a helmet on you are a LOT less likely to tackle someone else head first. Removing helmets and emphasizing proper tackling (e.g. wrapping someone up low with your arms rather than leading high with your head/shoulders and trying to lay a big hit on them) could really do a lot to combat traumatic brain injury IMHO. Obviously the argument for removing or not removing helmets from the game is much more nuanced than that but I’m surprised that the idea hasn’t at least been discussed in NFL circles before. I’d be interested in thoughts from other people about this idea.

    •  fanfor55years says:

      They’ll never go without helmets but it’s an interesting idea. That issue has been thrashed out in women’s lacrosse for years. My daughter was a star player and used to get hit by glancing blows on her head as she weaved through defenders toward the goal. I’d ask why they didn’t wear helmets and was told that after studying the issue the powers-that-be thought it worse to don helmets and INVITE blows to the head because the women would assume they wouldn’t be hurting anyone.

      •  Barbarossa says:

        Thanks for the response, unfortunately I suspect you are right that they will never go without helmets, it would require too much of a sea-change culture wise to alter the sport that drastically. Plus I suspect that there is a very lucrative industry around designing and producing pads, helmets etc. and someone who is making a whole lot of money off those things would have some choice words for Goodell if they tried to ban helmets. Those guys at the top are always in bed with each other and have a lot of incentives not to shake up the status quo no matter how many people are getting hurt because of it.

    •  Grateful Giants says:

      I completely agree. I am a coach, I coach pop warner football, the beginning of EVER single practice we walk through a form fit tackle. Even if it is just one time, but every single practice I take one min to make sure the guys know what they need to do.

      You can not flag each time a helmet hits another, but you will def stop doing it after your eye gets popped out, or you gash your head on some dudes forehead.

      This game, is freaking football, every player signed a waiver that said, I ________ agree to play this game knowing there is a possibility of injury, head injury, or even death. Their mom signed it for them in pop warner and they have done it every year since.

      Stop trying to police this phantom, judgment call that they call “helmet to helmet.” fining people, and putting it in your pocket.

      Take the Helmet off, when the guy goes head to head guarantee he stops doing it. Goodell is trying to kill the NFL, I am convinced. I just feel like the man never played a down in his life. It stinks that players are getting hurt and they are finding this out years later, but if they were using proper technique, and not being so reckless with their bodies (ie. steroids too), these issues would be much less prevalent.

      •  Barbarossa says:

        I think you’re right that Goodell is address this totally the wrong way with a subjective penalty for helmet to helmet etc. hits. What they need to do is treat the disease not the symptoms. In this case the disease is the fact that players trying to massacre each other on the field. Because of all the pads and the fancy advanced helmets players feel invulnerable. Unfortunately their solution to concussions is to give the players a more effective weapon to inflict damage on each other with, and an attitude of well I’m protected so why not go balls to the wall and try to rock this guy I’m tackling?

  4.  Krow says:

    And it’s not just ball carrier tackling. That dirtbag Brian Dawkins made an entire career out of piling on with helmet spearing. Every running play he’d spear someone. Blockers … people in the pile. They loved him in Philly, but everywhere else he was pond scum.

    •  fanfor55years says:

      Yeah, Dawkins was in a long line of Eagles whom I could not stand and thought were dirty players. It’s not being “tough” to hit people when they’re down, or defenseless as was Ike Hilliard when the bum nearly killed him.

  5.  Krow says:

    http://articles.latimes.com/1992-12-01/sports/sp-1406_1_pro-football

    NFL Must Enforce Rules, Prevent Spearing Injuries

    The year … 1992

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