FanDuel - WFBC

February 02, 2007

Ted Johnson's on the Injured List Years After Retirement: The former Patriots middle linebacker says Coach Bill Belichick and team trainers caused the debilitating mental problems he has developed after a series of increasingly severe concussions. "There’s something wrong with me," Johnson, 34, told the New York Times. "There’s something wrong with my brain. And I know when it started."

posted by rcade to football at 08:34 AM - 22 comments

Kind of an interesting take on this story: Most of the events in the book in terms of his time with the Patriots takes place in the 2002 season. It's not really mentioned that he played two seasons beyond that, nor is not a single mention made of the fact that Johnson was quoted in a Michael Felger column THIS season on Dec 20, 2006 as saying that if Belichick called him, he would've played this season after Junior Seau went down. He had said at the time he'd even ask for a bump in salary.

posted by yerfatma at 08:49 AM on February 02

This is a parallel article from today's Boston Globe online. Jackie McMullen makes no mention of Johnson's willingness to come back, but since Johnson probably knew that the team would never call, it was an easy thing for him to say in the Felger interview. It's an unfortunate fact of life in most sports that the machismo thing tends to push athletes into playing when they shouldn't. Ted Johnson is right when he calls for the NFL to adopt some policy on playing after suffering a concussion. I would also couple this with some sort of insurance for both the player (monetary award) and the team (extra draft pick?) if a player is forced into retirement due to restrictions on playing after a concussion. Of course, the league and the NFLPA can't seem to do anything about taking care of some of the less well off veterans, so why expect anything like this.

posted by Howard_T at 09:51 AM on February 02

As much as I call for personal responsibility in these situations, it's pretty tough to put the blame on a player who admittedly isn't thinking clearly. I'd like to see the AMA put pressure on the NFL (and all sports leagues) to adopt a waiting period for any player diagnosed with a concussion. Another solution is at least partially guaranteed contracts, which would then force teams to consider whether they really want to run a player back out there and take a chance on having to pay the contract of someone unable to play. I suppose the easiest way to stop this would be to threaten to tie up the head coach and trainer involved in any such situation and hit them with a large mallet until they also sustained concussions.

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:01 AM on February 02

Another solution is at least partially guaranteed contracts, which would then force teams to consider whether they really want to run a player back out there and take a chance on having to pay the contract of someone unable to play. Bingo!

posted by fabulon7 at 10:17 AM on February 02

It really is a crime that the pro sport most likely to inflict debilitating injuries on its players is the one most resistant to guaranteed contracts.

posted by rcade at 10:51 AM on February 02

It really is a crime that the pro sport most likely to inflict debilitating injuries on its players is the one most resistant to guaranteed contracts. For better or for worse, the non guaranteed contracts in football are ideal from an owner's perspective. They have the power to give contracts- and they want to make sure that they don't loose millions when players go down precisely because injuries are so much more common than other sports. It might not be fair (I don't think it is), but it makes perfect sense from a capitalistic standpoint.

posted by jmd82 at 11:09 AM on February 02

it's pretty tough to put the blame on a player who admittedly isn't thinking clearly. While I do agree with that (and think the contract point is spot on), wouldn't the logical conclusion to this line of thinking be that a reporter shouldn't rely entirely on such a player's statements?

posted by yerfatma at 11:12 AM on February 02

Does anyone know is helmet design has improved over the years so that a player's head is better protected from violent shock? When I played football, helmets allowed the shock of a hard hit to by and large transmit to my head. Before some joker is tempted to point it out, the helmet shock is not the reason why I am a caveman.

posted by Cave_Man at 03:41 PM on February 02

Does anyone know is helmet design has improved over the years so that a player's head is better protected from violent shock? riddell came out with the Revolution helmet a few years ago. among other design upgrades, it provides more protection to the jaw. a majority of concussions happen from hits to the side of the head. not every player is wearing this new helmet though. i think i remember reading that less that half use the revolution.

posted by goddam at 04:14 PM on February 02

In this year's Best American Sports Writing there are two pices that touch on this: one on Mike Webster's terrible final years and another on the increase in size in the NFL. It's such a shame that situations converge so that the same thing that has brought you so far and allowed you to develop such excellence is allowed to totally destroy you, too.

posted by dame at 05:11 PM on February 02

Helmet design has made leaps in the past few years, as goddam mentions. The Pats team dentist has some ideas too.

posted by yerfatma at 05:31 PM on February 02

Ted Johnson has something wrong with his brain and he knows when it started. So do I. A cumulative 1.25 GPA while in college. Now he is out of football and has no marketable skills.

posted by BlindAlvin at 05:32 PM on February 02

Fatty, that's a great link. The question it leaves me with is whether or not Ted Johnson used the Maher mouthpiece. If he did, then the entire idea is shot down. My guess is that he did not.

posted by Howard_T at 05:44 PM on February 02

Now he is out of football and has no marketable skills. Yeah, fuck that human being! He got his chance and he blew it. Apparently. What are you getting at? I kinda got lost in the schadenfreude.

posted by yerfatma at 06:03 PM on February 02

I can only feel sorry for Ted Johnson. I don't blaim Belichick or the trainers, though. If a man knows he's hurt, it's his choice whether he goes back in. Yes, the coach can get pissed, even threaten him with his job, but he can't make him play. That being said, I really feel for Johnson and the quality of the remainder of his life. I really like the idea of the partially guaranteed contracts.

posted by carolinared at 06:52 PM on February 02

I'd like to see the AMA put pressure on the NFL (and all sports leagues) to adopt a waiting period for any player diagnosed with a concussion. From USA Hockey Magazine: "The NHL has taken a lead in concussion evaluation, treatment and return-to-play guidelines. Every NHL player completes a cognitive skills test at the beginning of the season that serves as a baseline in case they suffer a concussion during the year. The NHL encourages teams to keep players off the ice until they regain the same level of mental skills they had before the brain injury."

posted by GOD at 07:10 PM on February 02

If a man knows he's hurt, it's his choice whether he goes back in. Nope. Not for concussions. Someone else needs to make that call.

posted by yerfatma at 07:29 PM on February 02

Nope. Not for concussions. Someone else needs to make that call. Exactly. a) If you read the article, part of his point was being in fear of his job if he didn't practice. Coaches and players put so much pressure on playing injured that some players will play at all costs regardless of repercussions. b) Concussions aren't as simple as, "Oh, I feel fine." It's not an understatement to say a player with a concussion can feel fine, but is still more susceptible to recurring effects than someone else because they haven't fully healed.

posted by jmd82 at 10:13 PM on February 02

I think concussions are really the next great frontier in sports medicine. Maybe there's just better reporting on this (in terms of reporting injuries by teams, not reporting in newspapers and the like), but they seem to be more prevalent -- and my guess is that with increased size and speed of these athletes, they will continue to become more likely unless appropriate steps are taken. In related news, Mike Matheny, one of those great game-calling and defensive catchers who can't hit for a lick (kind of like his replacement with the Cardinals, Yadier Molina), retired on Thursday after not being cleared to play due to concussions sustained last year as a result of taking foul balls off his catchers mask.

posted by holden at 09:50 AM on February 03

holden, this is supposed to be the place for concussion research, at least if you believe the people Yukon and I did a job for. Of course, they were from UPMC. And I ended a sentence with a preposition, so I might not be trustworthy either.

posted by yerfatma at 06:03 PM on February 03

Interesting stuff yefatma. Did you guys code the software, do the research or do something else? (And let's face it, stating "the people for whom Yukon and I did a job" sounds a little nerdy.) Incidentally, I was checking out your profile and noticed my Jon Lester prediction. I feel bad about that for two reasons: (1) it was announced he had cancer two days later; and (2) I think what I probably meant to say was that he would be a number 3 starter (which is usually quite a bit better than league average). Oh well. I suppose I'll stick by the Anibal Sanchez comment, although my expectation is that Sanchez will appear to be better (at least in the near term and putting aside Lesters recovery) on account of being in the NL and pitching in Florida. Good thing there are statistical methods these days to control for those things.

posted by holden at 06:56 PM on February 03

No, Yukon designed and I built the linked site. And you cursed Jon Lester. Teamwork!

posted by yerfatma at 09:17 PM on February 03

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.