Hooray for Football, pt.4
Mike Webster, the longtime Pittsburgh Steeler and one of the greatest players in N.F.L. history, ended his life a recluse, sleeping on the floor of the Pittsburgh Amtrak station. Another former Pittsburgh Steeler, Terry Long, drifted into chaos and killed himself four years ago by drinking antifreeze. Andre Waters, a former defensive back for the Philadelphia Eagles, sank into depression and pleaded with his girlfriend—“I need help, somebody help me”—before shooting himself in the head.
Looks like Gladwell‘s getting his ideas* from this blog now. Or maybe I’m just part of the tipping point.
- Gladwell views head injury as implicit in the game of football, and I’m tempted to agree, but I also wonder how much helmets have to do with it. There is research showing that cyclists take more risks when they’re wearing helmets, feeling somewhat more immortal with the protection (anecdotally, I know I sure as shit do – at least until I frighten myself enough to take it easy). Which is not to say that cyclists shouldn’t wear helmets, just that it’s complicated.
Watching Gladwell’s slide show, I wonder how much the head-on attack style comes from having such a convenient battering ram in the form of that hard plastic globe on top. Would there be as much injury if they were wearing the old leather helmets (okay, I just wanted to button up that cool image of the football player – I don’t really think they should go back to leather)?
- That said, do rugby players (unhelmeted) suffer as many head injuries? I do not know. But helmets don’t help them, according to this study.
*Except with, you know, reporting and analysis and other stuff beyond my trademark lazy, blank ranting. By which I mean of course he isn’t getting his ideas here. But still. Hooray for football!