While the whole sports world is keeping track of who did what during the national anthem, and who’s going or not going to the White House, maybe the biggest story of last week was actually the news about Aaron Hernandez.It’s big news not because he had CTE, or that maybe we should factor that in when deciding how “guilty” he really was (we shouldn’t), but because the lawsuit and investigation should shed some light on what happened to him.
In case you missed it, he had stage 3 CTE, at the age of 27.
One doctor said his brain was in the condition they normally see with 67 year old CTE sufferers.
Now, we don’t know what sort of things Hernandez went through outside of the NFL, and that’s why I want this lawsuit and investigation to go through. Remember, he only played parts of 3 NFL seasons. That’s not a lot of time on the field compared to many others who have since been diagnosed with CTE. Did he suffer additional head trauma in prison? Maybe. Or, rather, was the damage already done by the time he got to the NFL from youth and college football? Even if we allow that his behavior can be somewhat explained (But not excused) by CTE causing a lack of decision making ability, we could look back at his career at Florida and see some of the same sort of things. Was he already dealing with the effects of CTE in college? Should his family be suing the NCAA and the University as well for continuing to let him play football, not taking better care of hm, etc.? Maybe. Again, we don’t know what happened while he was in college, or the truth about what happened with the Patriots either. I’m curious to find out.
The reason I’m curious, is because the common argument we hear about football players is that they get paid a lot of money to take those risks, and they know what the risks are and make those choices. Can that argument hold water at all if we start to see CTE prior to any NFL games? Is playing college football and not getting paid beyond a scholarship worth the risk if it turns out that Hernandez may have been dealing with CTE during his Florida days?
One thing I know is that level of CTE didn’t just happen from three years in the NFL. There was plenty of head trauma occurring outside of that. Can we start to pinpoint where and when he may have had concussions and head trauma, and begin to understand what the game is really doing to these young men?
Will we like what we find out? Maybe not, but we owe it to every college and high school football player to find out.
Given the way ESPN and other media outlets, including the President, went all hysterical over kneeling, you;d think this was a coordinated effort to get the public to pay attention to anything other than CTE. But we shouldn’t forget this story. If anything is going to destroy the NFL, it’s going to be this.