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The NFL's big headache

Man, is the NFL having a bad week. Or month. Or millennium. Ken Murray's story in this morning's Sun tells of the resignation of the doctor who has headed the NFL's concussion committee for all 13 of its years in existence. Here's the ESPN the Magazine story (subscription only, unfortunately) Ken refers to, which picks the ex-head apart for his lack of experience, his allegedly shoddy research and his apparent role as league rubber-stamp.

You don't need a subscription to read this follow-up by the story's author, written after the revelation last month that ex-Eagle Andre Waters, who killed himself last November, had suffered catastrophic brain damage likely due to all his concussions as a player. The scary part? According to this story, the NFL released a statement reacting to the Waters report that mentioned it "will begin studying retired players later this year.'' Later this year? No rush, I guess. Maybe you can study them posthumously easier than you can when they're alive.

(UPDATE: In a reader reply to this post, an executive with a Massachusetts medical lab passed along info about the mouthguard mentioned in the ESPN story that the NFL concussion committee appears not interested in checking out. It's the Maher mouth guard. Almost as good, he passed along a link to the original ESPN Mag story that you don't have to pay to read. Good job by the network to capitalize on the news - and to GIVE KEN MURRAY AND THE SUN CREDIT FOR THE SCOOP.)

For what it's worth, this topic came up with John Mackey's wife, Sylvia, the week before the Super Bowl, when she talked about her husband's jersey number and about the "No. 88 Plan'' of benefits for retirees with brain injuries that she got the NFL to buy into. She said she probably will never know exactly what injuries caused Mackey's current state of dementia - and does not plan to pursue it, or to sue anybody over it. "It's too late,'' she said. "I'm not trying to fight someone to get two or three million (dollars). I'm happy with what the results are now; I'll be happier when the results pan out for all the others ... (and) that their expenses are taken care of.''


The new co- chairman to the concussion committee David Viano is a biomechnical reseacher from Wayne state. They were the pioneers in forwarding a theory based in orthopedics and developed by Notre Dame team dentist Dr. Jack Stenger. Stenger's theory was the basis of the first story,"NFL won't bite", Peter Keating reported on that led to this multilevel story. The N.E.Patriots have the lowest concussion rate in the NFL, click on the "NLF won't bite" link on the ""Dr. Yes" page to find out more or go to www.mahercor.com Thanks to Peter Keating for his efforts and intuition in investigating this story. Parents, coaches, trainers even the U.S. Military should have this basic orthopedic information.

My father, Raymond L. Ramsey, "Rocket Ray", first played for three seasons in the old All-American Conference with the Chicago Rockets in 1947, Brooklyn in 1948 and the Chicago Hornets in 1949.

He was with the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League for five seasons, through 1953, before that team moved to St. Louis. He then played for three years in the Canadian Football League with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, finally retiring after the 1956 season. A long career of teaching and coaching followed, until that was interrupted by dementia.

Around 1990, my father was diagnosed with dementia "of the Alzheimer's type." Since that time, the burden on our family has been tremendous, financially, physically, and mentally. After my mother passed away in 2002, it has been an everyday battle to provide for him. Today, we received word from the NFL that my father qualified and was approved for benefits under the new NFL 88 plan. All I can say is that this plan has saved my father and my family from financial ruin. It has also guaranteed that my dad will receive the care he deserves.

To Sylvia Mackey and the other wives and key individuals who are responsible for this plan, a heartfelt THANK YOU! I cannot type the words that could accurately express my gratitude to you, and to the NFL.

Kelly Ramsey

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