Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Jul 2017

Football's Silent Killer

FO alumnus Mike Tanier, now with Bleacher Report, has taken a hard look at the sickle cell trait that can make football so very dangerous, what teams are doing to manage it, and why players at the lowest levels of football are at more risk. It's a hard piece to read at times, discussing the deaths of players in practice; why the trait is more common in people of African descent, and the ramifications that racial gap has on athletes and doctors alike in the United States; the effect of high altitude, and why players with the trait face extra risk playing in Denver; and how the trait can be properly managed to treat the athlete safely.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 06 Jul 2017

5 comments, Last at 12 Jul 2017, 8:14am by Theo


by andrew :: Fri, 07/07/2017 - 4:04pm

I see that Dr. Casa is from the Korey Stringer Institute. As tragic as Stringer's death was, it is good to see that Kelci made good on her intent (using the settlement from the Vikings and the NFL) dedicated to helping prevent sudden deaths of athletes via the KSI.

That aside well written piece. I can't say it was enjoyable to read due to the subject matter, but well written.

by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 07/10/2017 - 4:53pm

Agreed. Not enjoyable, but needed and well-written.

by jtr :: Mon, 07/10/2017 - 9:43am

The Broncos 2011 Wild Card win over the Steelers (the infamous Tebow playoff win) is largely attributable to Ryan Clark being unable to play at altitude due to sickle cell trait. Watch backup safety Ryan Mundy (#29) on this play. What the hell is he doing? How does he end up five yards shallower than the corner he's supposed to be helping? How can a safety take himself all the way out of the play right at the snap like that? If the Steelers had their Pro Bowl free safety instead of a particularly clueless backup out there, there's no way they give up an 80-yard TD on the first play of overtime.


by Jerry :: Tue, 07/11/2017 - 3:46am

Yeah, it was too bad that Clark couldn't play. At this point, though, I don't remember who else (on both sides) missed that game because of injury. Ultimately, both teams play who's available, and we all live with the result.

by Theo :: Wed, 07/12/2017 - 8:14am

You might as well say nothing.
This article was about CST and the absence of Clarke was because of it.
At this point, this is still relevant.