I respect Pete Prisco, the veteran reporter for CBS Sports. He works hard at his job, and never veers away from a controversial issue. This morning, I read a piece by Pete over at CBS Sports.com. He quotes former offensive tackle Tony Boselli, who contends the players in the recently settled head trauma lawsuit don't deserve to be compensated. What shocked me most about the article, is that Prisco agreed with Boselli... My respect for the long time sports writer took a hit, but it's the nature of his job. He's going to disillusion his readers from time to time, right?
My problem with his article, is the particularly craven way it came off. Little of the piece contained thoughts outside the the money being awarded to players, which is odd since the Prisco I've come to respect usually isn't so tunnel-visioned. Money, money, money... If you're quick to draw a line to practical realities, you may be right. The NFL is a business, and Chronic Trauma Encephalopathy (CTE) is a blight on the league. Tarnish is being rubbed away with $100 bills, and legal elbow grease puts the final polish on the NFL brand with "no admission of guilt" clauses. I get it, it's the way of the world, but what bugs me is Prisco laying down and accepting what amounts to an undervalued buy-off.
The NFL has set its hopes on football fans having the attention span of a fruit fly. They're splashing cash at a problem that's going to get worse if they don't increase the funds allocated for research. Don't think so? You need to remember the group of players covered in the settlement doesn't thoroughly include those who haven't experienced symptoms, which can be slow to reveal themselves. They've added the affected - and some future players - to health coverage, but what happens to players who've been signing enhanced medical waivers since the CTE issue started to crop up?
Look, I know the NFL regular season is about to start, and I'm as excited as any fan in the world. I love the game of football. I'm asking you to not let this issue slink away. The game needs knowledgeable people like you to be there when parents asks questions. I'd never dissuade anyone from playing football - not ever. But with everything I've learned to date, the key to making this game safer lies in two distinct areas, one of which you can help make happen directly. You need to be the voice of teaching the game of football to minimize potential brain injuries. Be the guy who stops by a local Pop Warner practice to make sure the coaches aren't teaching kids to tackle with their helmets. The future of the game of football is solidly based on how the next generation of players is taught to play. I can't stress this enough too. Next, keep abreast of the research, and SBNation is going to lead the way by offering the views of experts as their research unfolds.
Pete Prisco's article is a slap in the face to anyone who loves the game of football, and wants it to last forever. He took the short road; the path of least resistance to ingratiating himself with the NFL. The gist of his article, along with Boselli's opinion, is the players knew what they were getting into. That's all fine and dandy. But his short sighted view excludes the fact "what they were getting into" started when these player were seven or eight years old. There's absolutely no way to know when CTE damage barrier lines are crossed. For some reason, Prisco seems to think it all started after these players reach the age of consent, and that's simply impossible to determine.
If you haven't read Part 1 in my CTE series, I encourage you to take the time. My plan is to not attack the game of football, but to make sure you - the reader and NFL fan - are firmly and thoroughly informed so we can save the game we love.
Pete Prisco, I know in my heart you can do better than this...