I Pick Every NFL Game - Week 11

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Why did Brian Westbrook play last week?

Westbrook was knocked out two weeks prior; this comes on the heels of multiple studies detailing the impact of concussions on retired NFL players - and those studies come as part of a larger movement to more clearly recognize what role it is that concussions have played regarding extreme depression in retired athletes.  Malcolm Gladwell recently wrote in the New Yorker that the concussion evidence is such (and the impossibility of disentangling football from causing those injuries) that, in our lifetimes, we will see football as we know it disappear.  You'd think that in the middle of that, a high profile player like Westbrook wouldn't take the field two weeks after getting knocked out - a professional boxer, you know, a lawless sport like boxing - a professional boxer can't fight for at least 30 days after getting knocked out - but in the corporate NFL, 2 weeks go by and a running back is right in the game again. 

The evidence of brain trauma caused, really just by playing the game of professional football is stronger than the evidence of harm by (here it comes) steroids, I'd suggest.  The difference in interest the media has in talking about both subjects is titanic (well, to be fair, the media never cared about steroids in football, just baseball, and it stopped.  Once the Sports Industrial Complex drove over Barry Bonds for years guys like Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez largely got a free pass.  It's a better position we're in now, but forgive a Giants fan if he can distinctly recall every Bonds at bat having to include a disclaimer "remember, what you're seeing isn't actually happening" - but ARod just won a World Title and if the word steroid was uttered at any point during the Series I missed it) and that allows Westbrook, hardly an obscure player, to maybe have ended his career by playing last Sunday. 

Dolphins +3 Panthers (win)
Lions -3 Browns (loss)
Jags -8.5 Bills (loss)
Steelers -10 Chiefs (still alive in the suicide pools, and I've got the Steelers this week)(loss, and that ends my suicide dreams)
Colts -1 Ravens (win)
Pack -6.5 Niners (loss)
Vikes -11 Seattle (win)
Redskins +11 Cowboys (win)
Saints -11 TB (win)
Cards -9 Rams (loss)
Jets +10.5 Pats (loss)
Bengals -9 Raiders (loss)
Eagles -3 Bears (win)
Falcons +6.5 NYG (win)
Denver +2.5 SD (loss)
Texans -4.5 Titans (loss)



adwords said...

This from the guy that wants to see wrestlers dropped on their heads as much as possible?

Jim said...

Not as a matter of policy.

If you say, "is it harmful to have wrestlers take those types of head bumps"? The answer is yes. A concussion to a wrestler isn't any less hamrful than a concussion to anyone else.

As entertainment, football's fun, boxing's fun, and head and neck based suplexes are fun. I like the big quarterback knockout blow and the savage middleweight fight too. And I believe them to be harmful. They are harmful to those who do them - and I enjoy them. I like color in a wrestling match and think getting color is a crazy barbaric way to make a living. I've been watching the NFL my whole life and will continue to do so, but I'm persuaded that it is a terribly unhealthy endeavor. I also eat ice cream.

adwords said...

Then the answer to your question would be "Because you wanted to see Brian Westbrook play."

Jim said...

Nah, if my dollars drove the NFL they'd allow celebrations. And if what I felt was good social policy played any role in NFL decisions there's be no public money devoted to new stadiums (which causes more harm than concussions - but yet, everytime there's a vote on a new 49er stadium, I hope it wins). I don't matter.

None of this strikes me particularly problematic. If you put me in an actual decision making capacity where my will impacts policy then we have a different discussion. We might even have a different discussion if, within my unimportant little pulpit here, I was in someway dishonest, railing against violence while secretly enjoying it. None of that is occuring.

I work in corporate America, a machine which I believe to be for more ill than good. My cell provider is Verizon and my auto insurance is Geico - both which give to causes which I fundamentally believe cause more ill than good. My tax dollars go to fund wars that kill innocent people. We have lots of more direct harm that I cause the world than in recognizing that (1) concussions are harmful while (2) supporting the industries which facilitate them. If that's where we're going to put the bar, if we are going to stretch the connection between me and Brian Westbrook's brain in that type of attenuated way, to reach any type of morality my entire life would have to be restructured with a level of upheaval that makes anything I might say in the future not worth reading. Which would be one's prerogative, I suppose.

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