Wednesday, September 4, 2013

14 comments Gregg Easterbrook Wants to Talk (Again) About Concussions

I kind of figured Gregg Easterbrook would write about the resolution to the concussion litigation in this week's TMQ. Concussions in the NFL and youth leagues are Gregg's favorite topic (what about the kids?), so it doesn't shock me he discusses this topic on back-to-back weeks in TMQ. The more he can stay away from actually discussing football, the better for his readers. Still the following TMQ is one of Gregg worst columns of the year because this is the NFL preview where Gregg uses haikus to predict each NFL team's record for the 2013 season and then immediately forgets what he predicted (unless he ends up being correct) and calls out other writer's bad predictions in a TMQ after the 2013 season is over. Gregg's shit don't stink, you know.

One thing I found interesting is I began writing this TMQ post on Tuesday and forgot to bookmark it. When I went back to find and bookmark TMQ this morning at 8:07am it was nowhere to be found on ESPN's front page. I had to go to my bookmarked link for Gregg Easterbrook's columns. This may be something that doesn't happen often, but in my one visit to less than 24 hours after it was posted TMQ wasn't on the front page of ESPN. Perhaps TMQ is falling out of favor with 

The NFL concussion lawsuit moved close to resolution last week -- see below for analysis -- 

You will wait for your analysis of the NFL concussion lawsuit and like it!

Football remains in a legal quicksand that has the potential to drag the sport under. The big concern has never been the NFL, which has only a small number of current and retired players, and can buy its way out of any difficulty. The issue is the 3 million youth players, 1.1 million high school players and approximately 50,000 college players.

Right, because the NCAA doesn't have any money to buy themselves out of any difficulty. Would someone please help the poor NCAA if they get sued?

Except for those who matriculated at football factories, most football players suit up for sponsoring organizations that cannot buy their way out of problems: youth leagues, public school districts and colleges whose athletic departments lose money.

Which also means parents who allow their children under the age of 18 to play football won't be able to sue these organizations and get a lot of money because these organizations also don't have a lot of money. In response to a lawsuit, these youth leagues and school districts would probably point out parents signed their children up to play football when they were under the age of 18 and all proper safety precautions were taken to ensure the children's safety, so the parents are at fault for allowing their children to play football.

If youth leagues, public school districts and colleges that are already in the red on sports start paying brain-damage awards, they'll stop sponsoring football. They won't have any choice -- insurers will drop them.

This is true as well. It's a kind of doomsday scenario Gregg is predicting, but that's all right.

A teen partially paralyzed at a Colorado football practice just won a $11.5 million judgment against his high school district, some school personnel and the Riddell helmet company. Last year, San Diego school district agreed to pay $4.4 million to a man who was a teenaged high school football player when he suffered a severe brain injury.

What these two cases have in common is that severe brain injury and paralysis occurred as a result of playing football. This is a different situation from a group of parents filing a class action lawsuit due to trauma caused to their children as a result of playing football when some of this trauma isn't necessarily manifesting itself quite yet. I simply think Gregg needs to understand that if/when a high school player gets paralyzed or severely injured on the field this is a different case (and a more surefire lawsuit) than a class action lawsuit claiming brain damage to a person who played high school football five years ago.

It's easier to look at Kevin Turner and decide his ALS could be a result of the repeated hits he took in the NFL, but if Kevin Turner stopped playing football in high school then it wouldn't be as easy to trace his ALS back to his brain injuries. There's a causation issue present in the situation where Turner hasn't been repeatedly hit in the head while playing football for a long period of time outside of high school. I'm sure it would occur, but I think it would be difficult for a class action lawsuit to begin when there isn't major injury caused while the child is actively playing high school or youth league football.

Sixteen-year-old Jaleel Gipson of Farmerville, La. died in May after an Oklahoma Drill at high school football practice...A week ago, Tyler Lewellen, a 16-year-old California high school football player, died from head trauma; two weeks ago, a 16-year-old Georgia high school football player died from a spinal injury sustained in a scrimmage.

Again, these are players who suffered very obvious injuries in the course of playing football. Regardless of the result of the NFL concussion lawsuit, these are very obvious lawsuits waiting to happen. Even if the players never sued the NFL, these types of lawsuits are going to happen when severe, life-changing injuries happen on the football field. It's more difficult to predict lawsuits caused by high school football when the symptoms from having played high school football show up over a decade down the road.

When the awful tragedy is a young person's death in a car crash, often there is no third party to sue.

Tell that to car manufacturers. I'm guessing they have experienced something different and contrary to this statement.

Sixteen-year-old Edwin Miller, a Maryland high school football player, died of heat stroke in 2009 after conditioning drills. In the immediate aftermath, his parents went out of their way to be conciliatory, including asking the team to attend his funeral in football jerseys. Three years later, they sued.

Yet again again again, this is a situation where a player died in the middle of a football activity. This is very different from what is being alleged by the players in the NFL concussion lawsuit. I'm not saying lawsuits alleging brain injury won't be filed, but many of these suits won't have quite the causation pointing back to football which the lawsuit from players' suing the NFL had. If Edwin Miller and five of his high school football teammates all were struck with ALS while they were middle-aged then perhaps a lawsuit could be filed, but it would be harder to trace the cause back to high school football. If Edwin Miller and five high school teammates all suffer from dizzy spells while still in high school and there is brain trauma shown when they went to the doctor, then that would be an easier lawsuit to win. The problem is brain trauma just doesn't magically show up immediately out of convenience for the purposes of a lawsuit.

Adrian Arrington, a former player at Eastern Illinois University, has sued the NCAA regarding his concussions.

Arrington is 27 years old. This lawsuit will probably be settled and the NCAA won't be hurt financially by it. Again, players who sue the NCAA will find the NCAA has deep pockets.

Last week, the parents of Derek Sheely, a Frostburg State University player who died in 2011 from a second-impact concussion sustained in practice, filed suit against the school and its coaches. 

Derek Sheely died as a result of a concussion from practice. This is very different than Sheely experiencing headaches 10 years after he stops playing the sport of football in high school.

For the youth and high school players who legally are children in the care of adults, assumption of risk does not carry the weight it does when cited by colleges or the pros. There may be many big awards coming. Awards in the millions per player harmed, not around $50,000 per retiree as in the NFL situation (see below). No public school system, and few universities, could withstand that.

I 100% agree that few public school systems could not withstand this, which is why most likely the lawsuits would be settled out of court. These won't be easy cases to win for the plaintiffs if/when these concussions lawsuits go to court. I'm not saying it can't be done, but tying ringing headaches to having played football in high school for three or four years 10 years after leaving high school is a little bit more difficult to do. That's all I'm saying.

Brain-injury lawsuits below the level of the NFL could make this question moot, if colleges and high schools stop playing. The threat of brain harm to players is becoming well-known; the threat of concussion litigation to the sport itself may be just as real.

It could happen, but I'm betting these lawsuits are settled out of court or changes are made to ensure the sport of football is as safe as it can be before high school and college football is eliminated forever.

Now --- still America's original all-haiku NFL season predictions.

Between the haikus of Gregg Easterbrook and Peter King, I am violently against the use of a haiku for any reason at all.

Wes Welker shown the
door; football gods will wax wroth.
The New England Pats.
Forecast finish: 10-6

Because we all know the football gods frown upon a team choosing to replace a player with a younger version of that player. The football gods expect teams to keep their players in perpetuity until that player is no longer effective, at which point Gregg makes up another reason why that team isn't succeeding.

Only castoffs are
allowed to play QB here.
The Buffalo Bills
Forecast finish: 4-12

I would love to know what Gregg thinks is the difference in a "castoff" player and an "unwanted" player. I'm guessing the only difference is that Gregg can use hindsight to see that a player succeeded in the NFL and will call this player "unwanted" even though he referred to the player as a "castoff" originally. Gregg Easterbrook bases nearly every comment he makes about a player on hindsight. If the player succeeds in the NFL after being cut, then Gregg will scold the original team for not wanting that player and call the player "unwanted." If that player doesn't succeed after being cut, then he is a castoff and isn't very good at football. As I always say, Gregg likes to wait 1-2 years and then tell us what a team should have done 1-2 years ago. He's brilliant when only considering his ability to use hindsight.

For years, TMQ has asked why the league charges for preseason games: fans do the teams a favor by attending. Now TMQ asks, why are there preseason games, period?

Money is the reason. It's two extra games of revenue for the owners. Are we done here?

The games are terrible; no one cares about the outcomes; good players get hurt, reducing the quality of the real games; ratings aren't much. Yes, owners like the added revenue from ticket sales and concessions. But money is not the NFL's core problem.

No, but cutting two preseason games from the owner's revenue stream would quickly become a part of the NFL's core problem. Money isn't the NFL's core problem, but good luck trying to get the owners to give up some of this money.

Now that the players are millionaires, do conditioning year-round and attend multiple minicamps, preseason games have no utility. Cut them back to two or eliminate them altogether.

That's a great idea. I would love to hear Gregg's idea on how to replace the NFL owner's revenue from the two missing preseason games. Perhaps these games would be replaced with two more regular season games if preseason games got cut back to two? Are two more regular season games really in the best interests of the player's health? Probably not, but Gregg isn't here to think of ideas, he is here to take a shit on everyone's else's idea without creating a solution to the problem.

Countersued those who
bought club's fake Super Bowl seats.
The Dallas Cowboys.
Forecast finish: 6-10

This has to be a joke because I did several internet searches and couldn't find any information on the Cowboys countersuing those who bought fake Super Bowl seats. Maybe I didn't search hard enough.

New York Times Corrections on Fast-Forward: In recent months the Paper of Record has, according to its corrections section:

• Said the asteroid that passed uncomfortably close to the Earth in February was 150 miles long; 150 feet is correct.

What's with all the hyperspecificity Gregg?

Admitted making the same minor error "at least 229 times".

That was a tongue-in-cheek correction and Gregg's lack of detail here makes it sound like the "New York Times" made the same mistake over and over 229 times. That's not entirely true. The "Times" has been referring to Tinker Bell as "Tinkerbell" for 229 years now and have never been corrected. So they have made the mistake 229 times simply because the correction was never noted by anyone until this year.

Miscalculated how old 37 is in gorilla-years.

This is an absolute lie. Go to the link (Gregg has such balls to provide a link and show how wrong he is, doesn't he?) and you will see the following correction:

An article on Tuesday about the death of Pattycake, the first gorilla born in New York City, misstated the relevance of the age 37 for gorillas. That age is the median life expectancy for female gorillas in North American zoos, not the median age of gorillas in North American zoos.

The "Times" didn't miscalculate how old 37 is in gorilla-years, but used the median life expectancy for female gorillas in North American zoos when they should have used the media age of gorillas (male or female) in North American zoos. They calculated the age correctly, but used the wrong median age. Not that I would expect Gregg to read the articles he links of course.

Said the original Woodstock festival was held at Woodstock, N.Y.; readers noted that Bethel, N.Y., is correct. Like wow, there's no one left at the New York Times who attended Woodstock.

And Gregg just began a sentence with "Like wow,". Between this and wanting to see more men shirtless in magazines I'm becoming more and more convinced Gregg is slowly morphing into a tweeny-bopper girl.

Cursed by football gods
since scapegoated Arians.
The Pittsburgh Steelers.
Forecast finish: 8-8

It seems Gregg can't ever understand that sometimes teams have to fire an offensive coordinator who has had some sense of success with that team. Bruce Arian is a head coach now, so I doubt he is complaining that the Steelers fired him. Plus, would Bruce Arians be cursed if he dared to leave the Steelers (assuming he was still the offensive coordinator) to become the Cardinals head coach? He would be a weasel coach leaving the Steelers team behind for more money. Plus, since Gregg has such a high opinion of Arians isn't it a good thing that he was scapegoated so he could go coach the Colts' offense and end up with an NFL heading coaching job?

But wait: lower-division North Dakota State defeated Big 12 member Kansas State. Towson defeated Connecticut, which was not long ago in a BCS game.

Kansas State was in a BCS bowl game just last year.

Then there was lower-division Eastern Washington at Oregon State, the latter a preseason ranked team. Eastern Washington posted 625 yards of offense, scoring a touchdown with 18 seconds remaining to defeat the hosts. This won't get the lasting attention the Appalachian State upset at Michigan received: West Coast games don't end until more than half the country has gone to bed. 

Great theory, but this game started at 6pm EST and was over by 9:40pm EST. So the whole "no one pays attention to the West Coast" theory doesn't work here. Otherwise, no one would have watched the LSU-TCU and Georgia-Clemson game either and those games were specifically scheduled for primetime to get the largest possible audience.

So I'm not sure why Eastern Washington over Oregon State didn't get enough attention, but it wasn't because the game was scheduled too late in the evening for East Coast viewers. The difference in Appalachian State over Michigan and Eastern Washington over Oregon State is that Michigan was a Top 10 team at the time they lost to Appalachian State.

Buck-Buck-Brawckkkkkkk: It was the very first game of the 2013 NCAA season, North Carolina at heavily favored South Carolina. The visitors trailed 20-7 midway through the third quarter and faced fourth-and-goal on the Gamecocks' 2. That cannot be the field goal team trotting in!

Let's be a little bit fair to Larry Fedora (head coach of UNC). Perhaps he should have gone for it, but if UNC team fails to score a touchdown here the game is over. UNC would be down 13 points and having just given South Carolina the ball. In this case, when Fedora kicks the field goal he gets points on the board and UNC has a quarter-and-a-half left in the game to come back. South Carolina jumped all over UNC early in the game but had not scored many points since then, so it was reasonable to expect a field goal in this situation, plus a stop for the defense, would put UNC right back in the game. It didn't work out that way of course.

TMQ wrote the words "game over" in his notebook, and the football gods showed their wrath by granting the hosts a length-of-the-field touchdown on the next snap, making the lead 27-10. 

I can't imagine how many times TMQ writes "game over" when the game isn't over.

You're the underdog on the road, you're behind late, don't settle for a field goal from the 2!

I look at it this way. UNC is on the road in an enormously loud stadium against a really good defense. Does UNC have a good chance of pushing this ball into the end zone given the crowd noise the offense would experience in this situation? I'm not so sure. 

League's best runner, worst
passing game. Net: home in Jan.
Minnesota Vikes.
Forecast finish: 5-11

The Vikings were 31st in passing yards per game and 2nd in rushing yards per game last year and they were not home in January. Merits a mention.

Peyton at Indy,
week sev'n. Ratings, anyone?
Indy Lucky Charms.
Forecast finish: 12-4

If Gregg insists on creating these haikus he could at least make them not feel redundant. Here is the one he used for the New York Giants:

Eli v. Peyton,
Week Two. Ratings, anyone?
Jersey/A Giants.
Forecast finish: 10-6

He uses essentially the same haiku for both the Colts and the Giants with the haiku mentioning Peyton Manning and the ratings this game will provide. If he insists on writing TMQ and filling it with haikus he could at least make them original or non-redundant.

The proposed settlement of the main concussion lawsuit against the NFL -- the supervising judge still must accept the deal -- has been widely interpreted a huge win for the league. Teams pay only about $25 million each, and well into the future, when money presumably will be worth less than today's. The $13 million or so each team owes up front represents less than 2 percent what the typical NFL franchise will realize in revenue in the period of the payments.

You can see why some people think the NFL got off easy in the deal. "Not true" says Chris Seeger as he wakes up from enduring another night of sleepless, sweaty nights over whether his firm will make the money they put into the ca---I mean, while worrying about whether his clients' children can go to college.

So the NFL got off relatively cheaply. But remember, the players might have received nothing.

This is the NFL concussion lawsuit analysis that Gregg promised us earlier. So I guess if each plaintiff in the case got $10 that would be a win in Gregg's opinion, because after all, they might have received nothing.

Had the suit gone to trial, it was far from clear the plaintiffs would prevail. Suppose a retired player had neurological problems: How could it be proven the problems stemmed from NFL employment, as opposed to college or high school concussions or falling off a ladder while cleaning gutters?

The irony here is incredible. Gregg just got done telling us that youth leagues and high schools could drop football because of lawsuits, while I countered by saying it is going to be difficult to prove causation if there wasn't an immediate, traumatic injury that occurred while that person was playing football. Now, when Gregg is discussing the players lawsuit against the NFL, when some of these players played 100+ games in the NFL, including preseason games and enduring training camp, Gregg is arguing the plaintiffs possibly could not have proven causation. Wouldn't this be much, much more true for lawsuits that are brought after a person has only played high school or youth league football? So why doesn't Gregg mention this causation issue when discussing the issue earlier in TMQ and why did Gregg state that school districts could drop football and the causation issue wasn't mentioned as a mitigating factor for potential lawsuits? Oh yeah, Gregg didn't bring it up because he was afraid it would ruin the point he wanted to prove. Gregg only likes to give his readers the information they need when it fits the point he wants to prove.

Often parties in a lawsuit reach pre-trial settlement in order to minimize risks -- the party with a lot of money eliminates the risk of a very large judgment, the party seeking money eliminates the risk of ending up empty-handed.

Which is exactly how school districts could keep high school football around even when there are lawsuits being filed against them for injuries alleged to have occurred on the football field.

Since players may opt out of the settlement and pursue their own lawsuits, many will face this choice: take a moderate sum now and move on, or spend years in bitter litigation that might lead to a jackpot or to nothing. On "Deal or No Deal," once a contestant got to a briefcase with a decent amount of money, the rational move was to stop. That is now the retired players' situation.

Gregg wants to know, if some of these players opt out of the settlement, then who will be their Howie Mandel?

For plaintiffs' counsel the outcome is marvelous. The NFL is covering their legal fees, and won't say how much was agreed to. That means the lawyers get their payday upfront, rather than waiting for years.

But...but...tossing and turning, night sweats, college, very wasn't about money. It was about the personal concern!

They just can't finish.
What will go wrong this season?
Atlanta Falcons.
Forecast finish: 12-4

The Falcons made the NFC Championship Game and lost to the team that Gregg is predicting will go 14-2 this season. The Falcons can't finish or they just got beaten by a better team in the NFC Championship Game?

Book News: Maybe, possibly, perhaps I will soon be mentioning again my upcoming book "The King of Sports: Football's Impact on America," which can be pre-ordered here. Yes, perhaps I will mention "The King of Sports" again.

Click on the link and then scroll down to the picture of Gregg. He looks like he just got done from a two day bender. He looks tired and haggard. Interesting choice for a picture.

Manning to Welker:
Both wandered in off the street.
The Denver Broncos.
Forecast finish: 12-4

To say Peyton Manning walked in off the street is just so incredibly misleading. It's not like zero NFL teams wanted Manning, but only a few wanted to pay $20 million per year for Manning.

QB shows more skin
than cheer-babes on calendar.
The S.F. Niners.
Forecast finish: 14-2

Gregg predicts the 49ers will go 14-2 and his haiku is only about how much skin Colin Kaepernick shows. Seems appropriate.

Next Week: During the preseason, TMQ uses "vanilla" material designed to confuse scouts from other sports columns. Starting next week, I will come at readers from all directions with complex sentence structures, exotic joke packages and quick-snap items. Real football will be back at last!

With the return of real football means the return of Gregg's terrible second-guessing, Gregg's terrible analysis, and Gregg's terrible understanding of the game of football. I can't wait. 


Snarf said...

Two things:

1) shouldn't Gregg love the preseason? It's all late rounders and undrafted guys fighting for roster spots?

2) doesn't the ability to preorder his book just scream creep?

Bengoodfella said...

Snarf, I would doubt Gregg watches a minute of preseason football because the quality isn't high. Which is interesting given the fact it's usually guys he adores during the regular season fighting for a soter spot.

Yes, that is creep to preorder a book before it comes out.

Chris Carlomastro said...

I went through and checked Greggggg's "predictions" for 2012 vs actual results (because i'm an asshole). He was off by at least 4 games for 9/32 teams. Some of the highlights (lowlights?) included STL going 2-14, Washington only putting up 4 wins, missing Minny by 7 games and of course- Philly going 12-4 and winning the division. Only off by 8 games there. I'm sure the football gods did something verily, or something about cheerleaders or cold coaches or punting or not punting or not blitzing or not running counters....I can't keep track.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, I am making my predictions today so I don't want to be cocky and rail on Gregg's predictions. But wow, he was off a lot. Gregg didn't do the "Bad Predictions" column last year, but in previous years I believe I had counted up how wrong Gregg was about each division too and he was usually fairly wrong.

I'm betting the Rams were cursed by the football gods for not drafting Griffin, Washington was looked on favorably for drafting Griffin and using a lowly drafted player as their star running back, Philly was cursed b/c they had highly-paid glory boys and a coach that was too chicken to go out for it on fourth down, and Minnesota...I don't have anything for them.

Chris Carlomastro said...

I've definitely been known to make some bad predictions myself, but i'm also not a highly paid glory boy football "expert". I mostly had to check because of his Bad Predictions columns in the past. I want to say you're probably right about the Eagles, Rams and Redskins; but I'll also put it out there that Adrian Peterson was only playing for himself, and since he dared to come within 8 yards of the record, the gods punished the vikings. He's like the Jared Allen of offense.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, my predictions are going to suck...maybe, though I do feel good about them. If that makes sense.

Yes, because Adrian Peterson ran for himself the football gods cursed the Vikings and had Christian Ponder get injured for the playoff game.

Also, Bill Simmons releases a two part power poll Thursday afternoon so I don't have time to write about it before next week. Thanks a lot Bill!

Anonymous said...

Big road underdog loses a game in which they were already trailing? FOOTBALL GODS

Anonymous said...

"Only castoffs are
allowed to play QB here.
The Buffalo Bills
Forecast finish: 4-12"

Aren't the two QBs for the Buffalo Bills E.J. Manuel and Jeff Tuel, two rookies? Meaning they haven't actually been cast off by anybody.

It's amazing how many little jokes Gregg throws in that are 100%, literally wrong. In order for something to be funny, there needs to be a hint of truth. There is no truth to calling Manuel and Tuel castoffs. Not to mention, one of the lines for this haiku is simply "the Buffalo Bills." Wow Gregg, did you stay up all night thinking of that one? Here's one for Minnesota: "the Minnesota Vikings." 7 syllables, don't spend it all in the same place.

The Steelers have been cursed for a whopping ONE YEAR for letting Bruce Arians go. Good grief, Gregg just can't think of anything to say about these teams, can he?

"Peyton at Indy,
week sev'n. Ratings, anyone?"

What in the flying hell is this? He tries to turn "seven" into a one-syllable word. What an absolute dumbass. Dr. Seuss can get away with this stuff since he's, you know, good and all. This is just sad. This is a man who had ONE IDEA for the Colts, and just HAD to make this line work. "Peyton at Indy/week seven Luck v. Manning/Ratings anyone?" Took me 5 seconds to readjust things and not brutally abuse the english language while doing so. I don't even have my own website or book deal.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, that's a good point about the Bills quarterbacks. Not exactly castoffs, but they are rookie QB's.

The haikus aren't even original and they are really half-assed. It's like PK's haikus. If you are going to do them, at least make them interesting.

I hope the Steelers win the Super Bowl this year (not really), but I would love to hear about Bruce Arians and the Steelers being cursed after that happened. Remember Gregg said John Harbaugh blamed Cam Cameron and that's why Camerson was fired, to transfer blame, but then the Ravens won the Super Bowl. Gregg's thoughts on that? Nothing, he doesn't bring it up b/c he hope we forget how he said Harbaugh transferred blame for the Ravens struggles and then Caldwell won a Super Bowl as the Ravens OC.

Why even force that haiku since, again, that's not even a good one?

Snarf said...

EJ Manuel is a highly drafted QB from a football factory, though.`

Bengoodfella said...

Snarf, but he is a castoff because Jameis Winston is now the FSU quarterback. He is an unwanted player!

Anonymous said...

football gods will wax wroth

To paraphrase Groucho:

Have Roth wax the gods for awhile.

Anonymous said...

football gods will wax wroth

To paraphrase Groucho:

Have Roth wax the gods for awhile.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, nice.