Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

24 Sep 2013

Don't Settle

Sports On Earth's Patrick Hruby lays out the case for why former NFL players should keep fighting for the concussion lawsuit.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 24 Sep 2013

18 comments, Last at 26 Sep 2013, 3:33pm by akn

Comments

1
by Insancipitory :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 1:28pm

One huge problem the former players have with their suit is that, statistically, they live long and better than their peers in the population at large, including a much lower rate of suicide. So that if we were to unwind time, and give them all a redo on their lives without the NFL, as a group there would be fewer of them, and they'd be worse off. Maybe we're left with a larger societal question about how we treat the weakest among us, and the responsibilities of the most powerful when it comes to shouldering that burden.

2
by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 2:47pm

Curious what sources you have for the suicide rates? I have seen cited sources in articles in the New York Times and other pubs saying players suicide rates are 6 times the national average, but you seem to have seen data saying they actually have much lower rates... that's a huge discrepancy.

Also, how do you define living "better" than their peers? Arthritis and all sorts of other pain issues seem to plague retired players, so I'd be surprised if the general populace was worse off in those areas. And are their peers other retired athletes? People of the same age/race in similar income brackets? How "peer" was defined for them could seemingly make a big difference.

4
by Insancipitory :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 3:23pm

There was a NIOSH population study that was done on this (apparently multiple studies), I believe because of this lawsuit, which has been reported in numerous places, at least one of them Forbes. I've linked it in other comments I've made on this site and on this issue. As for your other remembered articles I'd guess they weren't normalized. Like most people I don't keep an annotated list of everything I read, so if I were to go find something, I would go about it like everyone else.

However:
In January, a second NIOSH report again found that NFL players were outliving their non-NFL cohort, partly due to lower cancer rates that could be the result of their lower rate of smoking. NIOSH also found that former players were at a decreased risk of dying from heart disease (with the exception of players who had a high body mass index). And the rate of suicide among NFL vets was 59% lower than in the general population. Overall, for the 3,439 ex--NFL players in the more recent study, NIOSH projected 625 deaths, using nonathlete mortality rates, but observed only 334

One might expect the "journalist" getting paid to research and present the available information on the topic would do their job. Maybe 'expectations' are the real villain here.

5
by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 4:01pm

Good info. That bit about "with the exception of players who had a high body mass index" is rather strange, given most every NFL player has an extremely high body mass index. (My BMI is higher than what they consider to be the ideal and I'm 5'10, 180.) Also, I don't see any mention of living better, just lower death rates, so if players could point to higher rates of things like early onset dementia they'd still have plenty of ammunition for lawsuits.

6
by TB (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 4:10pm

Here are some NIOSH links:

The 1994 study of former players showing lower death rates: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pdfs/nflfactsheet.pdf

An update that basically confirms the original: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pgms/worknotify/pdfs/NFL_Notification_01.pdf

An update specifically on neurodegenerative death rate (it seems to be higher for NFL players and in particular "speed positions"): http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-09-07-12.html

I've seen the 6x suicide claim, but I don't know what the original source is. Still, even if the suicide rate is higher, it seems odd to assume that the cause is the physical activity that players are involved in, but this is well outside of my expertise.

3
by RickD :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 3:14pm

The title made me think this would be an article about settling for field goals.

7
by Braddw54 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:11pm

me too

8
by Dean :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 5:24pm

This really should have come with an "Editorial" disclaimer. The author isn't even making a pretense of being unbaised.

9
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 8:23pm

Not clicking on link bebcuause pretty suure this .P Hurby guy is namby pamby who wrote article last year how he never going to watch NFL again. So, guy clearly has agenda . not interested in more anti-nfl stuff after that article from lastvyr which was targeted to NFL abolitionist types and other people easily swayed by the "playign football is bad" crowd.

10
by Dean :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:07am

I don't recall an article from last year, but yeah, the agenda is pretty brazen here. If one of our posters put this stuff in the comment thread, it would probably spawn a whole thread of class-warfare comments which would all inevitably get deleted for violating rule #1.

12
by David :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:53am

I don't get why Hruby having an agenda is such an issue for you and RJ. SoE is an editorial site, not a news reporting site, so having editorial/opinion articles is the norm, not the exception - why should they have to label this one? In what way could any article commenting on the settlement not be an opinion?

The article is actually worth reading because it's not very good. I'm more inclined to Hruby's point of view than not, but this article doesn't help. The settlement whinging in the first half is poorly written and full of "if"s and "could be"s.

The wider points about the NFL's culpability are more pertinent, but not directly relevant to the settlement. Yes, the NFL have sidestepped culpability in this suit, and by settling the suit, no further action will be taken on culpability. However, there are other suits ongoing, and there will be more in the future.

The truth is going to come out and, if it doesn't, it's because Mawae, and Fujita, and other ex-players want the money more than the truth. That's their choice, not Hruby's - easy for him to take a stance when he doesn't have any skin in the game....

13
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 11:16am

I'm not sure they can handle the truth.

14
by David :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 2:08pm

I dunno, Paul Pierce is getting on a bit, doesn't have the same pop...

11
by wr (not verified) :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:59am

I read on Hruby article (no longer remember subject), and decided I
would not waste my time with his agenda ridden nonsense anymore.

15
by akn :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 5:23pm

The author is also clearly lacking on his medical fact checking. Coming from a medical background, I see several mistakes, such as his description of Toradol (an anticoagulant?) and the costs of managing patients with chronic neurological impairments (2 million/patient!).

There's also a heavy amount of Cheney-esque cherrypicking of facts/information. For example, when he cited the Michigan study as having 5-19x the national average of depression/AD/memory disorders, he failed to disclose that the study only conducted a survey of self-reported issues, and did not perform any neuropsychological testing or even simple screening. The authors of the Michigan study even acknowledged how poor the data from that particular section of the study was:

"Dementia is much more difficult to diagnose in surveys than depression or IED, in part because it directly affects the respondent’s ability to participate ... We did not administer cognitive tests and did not conduct neurological examinations. The only information we collected about dementia was to ask the respondent (or proxy) if they had ever been diagnosed with “dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or other memory-related disease.” ... The vague category of memory-related disease makes the interpretation of this question somewhat difficult."

Overall, a pretty poor piece of writing, more like political propaganda than learned editorial. Mr. Hruby, please leave the medical stuff to the medical reporters.

16
by LionInAZ :: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 9:05pm

Without disputing your particulars, it's also amazing how badly 'people with medical training' get things wrong. My wife has gone through 15 years of medical professionals who can't handle the simple fact that she had a thyroidectomy and the consequences of that.

18
by akn :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 3:33pm

Without disputing your particulars, it's also amazing how well a patient's outcome is (in general) when treated by "people with medical training" compared to people without medical training.

If venting about your wife's unfortunate medical issues to a random on the internet makes you feel better, that's fine. But this is a football site, discussing an article about concussions and lawsuits. I had something relevant to contribute, so I commented. It doesn't mean I'm willing to defend or discuss the successes or failures of the medical profession in general.

17
by Alexander :: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 4:13am

I am going to re-iterate, that I think the players should take anything they can get. Their case is shaky, its like the smoking cases if the cig companies had never covered anything up.