When the sky changes

This is about concussions. Again with the endless talk about concussions, but this will not go away. Players are suffering massive brain trauma as a result of repeated blows to the head.

Remember Priest Holmes? There was a stretch of just under two years when he was the best back in the league. The Chiefs were making it happen, and Priest was running the ship. But his recent account of the trauma that he suffered during this time, and the long-term effects thereafter have once again inched Pandora a little further open.

In an interview with Fox Sports, Priest recounts some of the immediate fall out from suffering a concussion: “”This color obviously isn’t going to be blue. It can be a color that can be orange. It can be red. The sky could turn green,” Holmes told Chris Corbellini. “There’s even an episode where you see a clear light, like light at the end of the tunnel.”

This sounds like someone recounting their experience on a spirit journey in the jungle of Costa Rica rather than playing a sport. He now continues to suffer serious headaches, early onset arthritis and migraines.

While Priest is not part of the massive lawsuit that the league is currently facing from former players, his case study will surely highlight the dangers of head trauma.

It has been said before, but it needs to be said again that the concussions are doing irreparable damage to the athletes and no one seems to care. The machine continues to churn out future stars with no end it sight as the tentacles of football seep into the lives of younger athletes every year.

Nike put on a showcase of top high school football juniors this past weekend in Oregon. The kids are entering their senior year of high school, and are already being flown around the country my major shoe companies to parade about and get some free gear. Pop Warner all-star showcases are surely just years away.

Everyone wants a piece of the ever-growing pie. But the game of football is not about to undergo a fundamental shift to the extent that the rules are changed permanently. It is part of the culture of so many communities. While it may result in the early retirement of a select few that do make it pro, the game is used as a social tool in the many ways that Buzz Bissinger have shown us.

This is where the discussion lies. Players are quite literally having near-death experiences during professional football games. They are suffering brain injuries so severe that many struggle to maintain any semblance of a normal life after they have up their cleats.

But do we allow the sport to continue in its form as a tool of social order and unity? Or force those who govern it to change it now, or be forced to answer the questions from their children when players start dying. Is it possible that the league could face a string of players dying off similar to that of professional wrestling? Well that is unlikely, but the substance abuse prevalent amongst wrestlers is what separates the two groups, they share an affinity for suffering massive head trauma

Some of the finest tuned athletes in the world, are covering themselves is rock-hard body armour and launching themselves into opposing players with a full head of steam. They often act as projectiles, launching themselves through the air in order to impose maximum effect upon colliding. They get hit so hard that the color of the sky changes for them. Their brain rattles so hard against the inside of their skull that their vision is distorted to the point of visual hallucination.

This is what we subject them to. That is why they get paid enough to live for ten lifetimes. Because they are not going to even get to live an entire lifetime themselves. When active players are asked about head injuries, they often find themselves struggling to find an answer. Most have surely experienced at least one concussion, but the competitive juices flowing inside of them, along with a certain sense of willful ignorance make it such that they continue week after week.

Until the sky changes color.