Monday, February 4, 2013

What Football Does

As much as I enjoyed watching last night's exciting Super Bowl, i've become very ambivilant about watching the sport given all that's come to light about just how much the players are damaging their bodies by playing. Stories like Junior Seau's suicide, the concussion storyline in general, and Dan Le Batard's incredible story about Jason Taylor's tactics for staying on the field. LeBatard captures some amazing stories, but here's the money quote:

Taylor was leg-whipped during a game once in Washington. Happens all the time. Common. He was sore and had a bruise, but the pregame Toradol and the postgame pain medicine and prescribed sleeping pills masked the suffering, so he went to dinner and thought he was fine. Until he couldn’t sleep. And the medication wore off. It was 2 a.m. He noticed that the only time his calf didn’t hurt is when he was walking around his house or standing. So he found a spot that gave him relief on a staircase and fell asleep standing up, leaning against the wall. But as soon as his leg would relax from the sleep, the pain would wake him up again. He called the team trainer and asked if he could take another Vicodin. The trainer said absolutely not. This need to kill the pain is what former No. 1 pick Keith McCants says started a pain-killer addiction that turned to street drugs when the money ran out … and led him to try to hang himself to break the cycle of pain.
The trainer rushed to Taylor’s house. Taylor thought he was overreacting. The trainer told him they were immediately going to the hospital. A test kit came out. Taylor’s blood pressure was so high that the doctors thought the test kit was faulty. Another test. Same crazy numbers. Doctors demanded immediate surgery. Taylor said absolutely not, that he wanted to call his wife and his agent and the famed Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion. Andrews also recommended surgery, and fast. Taylor said, fine, he’d fly out in owner Daniel Snyder’s private jet in the morning. Andrews said that was fine but that he’d have to cut off Taylor’s leg upon arrival. Taylor thought he was joking. Andrews wasn’t. Compartment syndrome. Muscle bleeds into the cavity, causing nerve damage. Two more hours, and Taylor would have had one fewer leg. Fans later sent him supportive notes about their own compartment syndrome, many of them in wheelchairs.
Taylor’s reaction?
“I was mad because I had to sit out three weeks,” he says. “I was hot.”
It's difficult to enjoy the violent hits when you know what they are doing to people. And even harder when you're surrounded by your kids, wondering why you preach nonviolence 99% of the time and then clap when you watch over sized men barrel into each other at top speeds.

No comments: