Let me first clarify and say that as I’m writing this, I’m whacked out on Benadryl. A few days ago I got bit by a nasty Horsefly right on my forehead (some say my forehead is so big its a five-head) that caused an allergic reaction which then turned my face into the “Elephant Man.” My kids and friends have all found it quite humorous.
What I found less than humorous was the report on the brain autopsy of former Bengal and Mountaineer Chris Henry. Henry had a troubled past and an unfortunate death. Yet, as I read the story, what jumped out at me was the amount of brain damage that he had and never had been diagnosed with a concussion. According to the report, Henry had the brain scan of an 80 to 90 year old man. And that certainly hits an unsettling note with every player that has put on a jock strap and helmet and lined up on Sundays. Including this one.
CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is a condition that two of my former teammates (Mike Webster and Terry Long) have been diagnosed with post-mortem. Due to the amount of hitting that was done back in the day, before the age of enlightenment all players from that era should be concerned. Live-go hitting was as natural a part of practice as breathing. Part of all this brain research coming out is that it’s the sub-concussive, every day garden variety head butts that seem to be the villan rather than the skull-whacking kill shots that check you into never-never land for a quick visit.
However you look at it, this research headed up by Julian Bailes and the WVU-affiliated Brain Injury Research Institute is very interesting and certainly needed. Look for Garret Webster (son of former Steelers great Mike Webster) who is also involved in the noggin-research to head into the Wolfpack Studios for a sit down chit-chat. Until then, keep your chin-strap buckled.