‘More Than A Headache’

INSIDE SPORTS, More Than A Headache, 800x800

“As much as he’s accomplished, as hard as he’s worked, as much as he’s built his character, in record-breaking time it’s going downhill because of what’s going on… He doesn’t even know. He’s not conscious enough.”

“The mother of NFL player Tre Mason told Palm Beach County, Fla. sheriff’s deputies last month that her 22-year-old son has a “10-year-old’s mindset” as the result of head injuries sustained playing football.

“Tre is not himself at all,”

Tina Mason said on audio recorded from a PBSO dashboard-camera video recorded July 27, when Tre Mason fled from a deputy while riding an ATV west of the city.

“He’s not making good decisions.”

“The deputy says in the July 27 video that Mason was traveling at speeds that reached 125 km/h… The video shows Mason, dressed in white T-shirt and dark shorts, running into his mother’s home just before the deputy pulls into the residence’s driveway.

“While speaking outside the residence, one deputy tells another that Mason should be in training camp with the Los Angeles Rams, for whom he has played two seasons.

“But he’s (expletive) around over here,” the deputy says in the video. “His career is going down the tubes.”

“Rams head coach Jeff Fisher has said the organization hasn’t heard from Mason since the end of the 2015 season. The Rams placed the running back on the ‘reserve-did not report’ list when he didn’t show up at their training camp July 29…

Nov 29, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Tre Mason (27) against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 31-7. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
PHOTO: Aaron Doster – USA TODAY Sports

“A deputy tells Tina Mason her son should be playing football.

“No, actually he shouldn’t,” Tina Mason says. “There’s CTE and this head-injury thing. You can say he should be playing football, but this is not what it is.”

“CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including concussions. It was not known Thursday whether any clinical diagnosis has been made regarding Mason.

“Tina Mason tells deputies that her son’s mental state took a turn for the worse after the 2015 season.

“Clearly, we could see the change,” Tina Mason says. “Like, completely.”

“Mason rushed for a combined 972 yards for the Rams in his first two seasons after being drafted in the third round out of Auburn in the 2014 NFL draft. At Auburn, Mason rushed for more than 1,000 yards as both a sophomore and junior and helped lead the Tigers to the 2013 national championship game against Florida State.

PHOTO: Dilip Vishwanat
PHOTO: Dilip Vishwanat

Since the end of the 2015 season, Mason has had a series of run-ins with law enforcement, including a March 5 arrest in Hollywood, Florida, during which he was Tasered after refusing to exit his vehicle.

“On July 23, deputies went to Mason’s home after family members reported “bizarre and angry outbursts”. When deputies arrived, Mason threatened to call the White House and have them all fired, and made comments regarding ‘al-Qaida’.

“As much as he’s accomplished, as hard as he’s worked, as much as he’s built his character, in record-breaking time it’s going downhill because of what’s going on,” Tina Mason says. “He doesn’t even know. He’s not conscious enough.”

“Mason had been “admitted for evaluation” to a hospital July 23, after his mother had called deputies to her home in Lake Charleston, saying Mason had been acting erratically. Officers found him with a cut hand that day, prompting his trip to the hospital.”

–‘NFL running back who fled police on ATV has ‘10-year-old’s mindset’ due to concussions: mother’,
Jorge Milian, National Post Wire Services, August 26, 2016



Colorado Avalanche Captain Gabriel Landeskog (Doug Pensinger - Getty Images)
Colorado Avalanche Captain Gabriel Landeskog (Doug Pensinger – Getty Images)

“Colorado Avalanche Captain Gabriel Landeskog says it’s time to “stand up and speak up” about the effect of concussions in hockey.

“His piece for the Players Tribune website, titled “We need to Talk About Concussions,”
comes a few days after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman came under renewed criticism over the league’s position that there is “insufficient evidence” to link head injuries and degenerative brain disease.

“Landeskog recalled his own experience with a concussion in January, 2013.

“There’s just no way your brain comes away from that kind of collision unscathed,” he wrote.

“The now-23-year-old said the injury occurred in a game against San Jose when he was hit by Sharks centre Joe Thornton as he looked down to find the puck. He recalled that “everything went black” after the hit, though he eventually returned to finish the game, believing it to be the proper display of leadership in his early days as Avalanche captain.

“Landeskog recalled learning that all was not well. He awoke the next morning at a hotel in Edmonton feeling “like two cement blocks were pushing against the sides of my skull”, describing the concussion aftermath as agonizing. He remembers being unable to watch television for a week, bothered by lights and noise as he recovered at home.

“Landeskog said he wanted to speak up on the subject so that the younger ranks in hockey would “understand the complexity” of the concussion and its’ effects, urging that proper time be given to allow the injury to heal.

Colorado Avalanche Captain Gabriel Landeskog

“He spoke to a changing culture in the NHL with regard to concussions, with better awareness among players and rules that aim to keep players from returning to games after suffering a head injury. Still, he suggests that an undercurrent of machoism remains for an “invisible” injury.

“If we continue to keep quiet, it’s sending the message that taking time to recover is not right, or that it’s a sign of weakness,” Landeskog wrote. “We have to stand up and speak up.”

“The piece comes on the heels of Bettman’s controversial comments in response to the inquisition of U.S. politician Richard Blumenthal. Bettman wrote in a thorough, well-researched letter to Blumenthal {See below…} that

“a causal link between concussions and CTE has not been demonstrated.”

“Heeding the work of experts in the field, Bettman suggested that even when cases of CTE were found, “there is insufficient evidence” linking it to participation in professional sports or contact sports more generally.

“Blumenthal asked for clarification on the NHL’s seemingly “dismissive” stance on the subject in emails made public earlier this year.

“Bettman said it was “unfair” to criticize the NHL when it was only following the consensus opinion of experts. He lauded the NHL’s ongoing efforts to educate players on the risks of hits to the head, all the while noting that

“no medical scientific study has ever concluded that concussions suffered by players who have played hockey at the NHL level can or do cause degenerative ‘brain diseases’.”

“The NHL is currently facing a class-action concussion lawsuit.”

–‘We have to stand up and speak up’: Avs’ Landeskog pens letter on concussions in hockey,
Jonas Siegel, The Canadian Press, August 3, 2016



Gary Bettman (Darren Makowichuk-Calgary Sun-Postmedia Network)
Gary Bettman (Darren Makowichuk – Calgary Sun – Postmedia Network)

“NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman continues to refute the link between concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disorder that can lead to mental health issues and even suicide. Bettman made his latest statement on the matter in a 24-page letter addressed to U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who has been critical of the NHL’s position on concussions and CTE.

“(T)he science regarding CTE, including on the asserted ‘link’ to concussions…remains nascent, particularly with respect to what causes CTE and whether it can be diagnosed by specific clinical symptoms,” Bettman writes in the letter published by the ‘New York Times’…

“Bettman blamed the media for creating a culture of “fear mongering” around the issue and ranted against

“widely-publicized misinformation relating to a supposed causal connection between concussions and CTE.”

“At bottom, the science just has not advanced to the point where causation determinations can responsibly be made,” he said, adding that the NHL’s stance on the matter reflects “medical consensus” that “a causal link between concussions and CTE has not been established.”

“The NFL made the stunning admission — after years of refuting a link — while attempting to fight a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of former NFL players who suffered concussions while in the league. In April 2015, the court approved a settlement between the two sides and a year later, an appeals court upheld the decision that made the league accountable for upwards of US$1-billion in monetary rewards to the group of around 4,500 retired players.

The NHL, meanwhile, is currently fighting its own class-action lawsuit brought by more than 100 former players who suffered concussions and other brain injuries while playing. The plaintiffs claim while they understood their career choice could lead to broken bones and other bodily harm, they were not aware of the long-term effects of brain trauma associated with the game. The players are seeking medical care for themselves and roughly 4,300 living retired players.

“Bettman attempted to distance the NHL from comparisons to the NFL in his letter to Sen. Blumenthal, a tactic he’s used earlier, as well.


“In a subsection of the letter that appeared to be composed with the help of a legal team, Bettman argued football and hockey are very different and, thus, should not be compared in terms of injury risk. He made similar remarks in March, directly after the NFL admitted the connection between football and CTE.

“It’s fairly clear that playing hockey isn’t the same as football,” he said then.

“NHL Hockey Is Different Than NFL Football,”

he titled a subsection of his letter that appeared to be written with the help of an attorney this week.

“Until recently, the medical community’s discussions about CTE did not even touch about NHL hockey,” Bettman wrote.

“Indeed, researchers at Boston University’s CTE centre — the most publicized researchers on CTE in football — told the NHL (and me personally) that they believe that NHL hockey is a vastly different sport than football, making it difficult to necessarily relate or link hypotheses on CTE as between the two sports.”

“He added:

“Likewise, any suggestion that the NHL has been ‘dismissive’ of a potential causal link between concussions and CTE is simply not true.”

–‘Gary Bettman continues to deny link between concussions and CTE: ‘Hockey isn’t the same as football’,
Marissa Payne, Washington Post, July 27, 2016


Eric Lindros (Getty Images)
Eric Lindros (Getty Images)

“Hockey players often refer to them as “conkies”. They’re concussions, and they’ve plagued athletes in all sports for decades. A look at 10 of the most notable pro careers either ended, or severely affected, by concussions:

“Eric Lindros: Lindros is the hockey name most synonymous with concussions, but there are dozens of NHL players who’ve similarly suffered from head trauma. Lindros deserves immense credit for lasting 15 seasons despite more than 10 known concussions, but it ended — somewhat early, and due to the cumulative affect of his head injuries, in 2007 at age 34.

“Brett Lindros: Eric’s younger brother, Brett, was drafted in the first round by the New York Islanders in 1994, but suffered three concussions in just two seasons and was forced to retire in 1996; the younger Lindros was told at the time to never put on another pair of skates — he played just 51 games for the Isles, scoring two goals.

“Steve Young: Successfully filled some massive shoes, taking over as the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback after Joe Montana’s era. But three weeks into the 1999 season, he called it quits after suffering what was believed to be the eighth known concussion of his career.

“Scott Stevens: One of the most physically dominating D-men of all time, Stevens was known for, among other things, a devastating, concussion-inducing hit on Lindros in 2001. He suffered numerous head traumas himself, and was forced out of the 2003-04 season after being diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome.

“Keith Primeau: A 15-year veteran of the NHL and one of the leading forwards of his era, Primeau took the final of numerous concussions in his career and retired nine games into the 2005-06 season. He’s since become a leading proponent of the fight against head injuries in hockey.

PatLaFontaine“Pat LaFontaine: Had a 15-year Hall of Fame career, but doctors with the Sabres recommended he retire after a hit to the head from Penguins’ ‘enforcer’ {‘thug’} Francois Leroux in 1997. LaFontaine believed he could still play, and was traded to the Rangers where he led the team in scoring and notched his 1,000th career point. He accidently collided with teammate Mike Keane during a 1999 practice and suffered what would be his final concussion — he retired shortly after the incident.

“Nick Kypreos: Now a popular and scoop-breaking analyst for ‘Sportsnet’, Kypreos played for over a decade in the NHL, but was forced to retire shortly after a fight in which he fell and struck his unprotected head on the ice.

“Amanda Kessel: The sister of former Leaf Phil Kessel, Amanda never recovered enough to continue a starring role with the University of Wisconsin; she missed all of last season and announced this past August that she wouldn’t return to the ice this season as well.

“Kevin Kolb: Signed a two year, $13-million deal in March 2013 to quarterback the Buffalo Bills, but suffered a severe concussion in a pre-season game in Washington in August of that year. He was placed on injured reserve, then retired in March 2014 due to the lingering effects of three concussions.

“Taylor Twellman: Youngest player in the MLS to reach 100 goals, doing so at age 29 in 2009. The former New England Revolution star retired in 2010 after being unable to find playing time due in large part to previous head trauma.”

‘Concussions and the pro sports careers they’ve ended’,
MARK ZWOLINSKI, Toronto Star, Sept. 14, 2015


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