The Cycle | February 05, 2013
>>> bowl with the city of baltimore still planning the party, a very serious football battle is being waged off the gridiron. in fact, the very fate of america's favorite sport hangs in the balance with attorneys and doctors piling on to the nfl over head injuries . chronic brain condition of cte is beginning to make the way in to the public conscious. it's the clearest evidence of brain damage linked to depression, memory loss, early dementia and even death. but the lawsuits don't fault the league, necessarily, for a lack of issue on the issue. the nfl accused of researching the long-term effects of concussions but then covering up the results to protect its bottom line. that's a claim the league vehemently denied. could the legal challenges change the game forever and necessarily a bad thing? bloomberg businessweek's latest cover story is " crunch time ." it's on news stands right now and paul bar vet the author and assisting managing editor. welcome.
>> you write in here that the very future of football is at stake here and i'll quote you. you say if science one day determines that merely playing serious tackle football increases the danger of brain disease it's conceivable that the nfl could go the way of professional boxing . that sounds pretty dire.
>> yeah. well, that's the fear. the science isn't quite there yet. but we do know that this repetitive jostling of the brain where the gray matter bangs in to the skull is seems to be causing long-term problems with a lot of nfl players. ex- nfl players.
>> i'm not sure that it was brain injuries that damaged boxing as much as pay per view killed boxing but let's keep going on the medical problems and the legal problems. football has several issues. culture of accepted risk. world of nonguaranteed contracts. you have to get back out there or somebody else will take your job. but key to the legal situation here is did the nfl give these guys the wrong information? and i think there is some evidence that they may have done that. there's a 2007 nfl pamphlet they gave the players saying research has not shown that having one or two concussions leads to permanent problems. roger goodall read it to players and focused on active players other than retired players showing much more cte.
>> do you think there's a base taos the lawsuit where the nfl will be in trouble for giving the players the wrong information?
>> there's a real threat here. it's a question of whether the nfl actively covered up what they knew. if they did something akin to the building materials industry did with asbestos or tobacco with cigarettes. it's not proved yet but i think it's seen as plausible and that's why i think there's a lot of pressure on the nfl to settle the litigation, set aside some billions of dollar s to deal with ex-players in the future.
>> this wasn't a concussion but reminded of redskins rookie rg-3, had a knee injury . there was a question of whether he should have been allowed to continue in the game and the justification basically was that he really wanted to play. and so he was allowed to make that decision. is it fair to put that responsibility on the players to decide for themselves that they should be going back in the game?
>> right. well, that wasn't as you said a brain situation but very relevant because it shows that the culture of staying in at all costs, of being the hero, is still very prevalent in the nfl and i think any adult let alone medical professional would say it should not be up to the 23-year-old punked up on adrenaline to decide whether or not he stays in the game and be the hero. i think that controversial decision to leave rg-3 in is something that will bear on how this whole thing is sorted out.
>> i wonder if there's steps taken in terms of tweaking or changing the game a little bit that could protect the players a little better. one thing that i jumped out at me, lou holtz , the coach, he said take the face guards off the hell mets. that way players can't lunge first and use the helmet as a battering ram and would go back to the fundamentals of tackling. i wonder if there's other steps that maybe the nfl and college should be considering.
>> well, that's a fascinating proposal. i was just end s&ping time with a college roommate over the weekend that's a high school football coach and said the exact same thing. taking the face guards off, a few more broken noses and less concussions. the safeguard of a face guard has this kind of, you know, paradoxical affect of turning the head in to a weapon. the nfl , though, is already changing the rules. the placement of the kickoff changed. they're more aggressive penalties being called so the nfl really does have the religion now and it's a question of whether they can resolve this body of claims by the 4,000 former players, set those aside. deal with them in a straight-up way and then move ahead to try to make the game safer.
>> paul barrett, thanks very much for injoing us.
>> my pleasure.
>> president obama weighed in.
>> some of the concerns we have learned about have to give parents pause and, you know, as i said before, i feel differently about the nfl . these are grown men. pop warner high school , college. i want to make sure that we're doing everything we can to make the sport safer.
>> so do you think we need to change the way the game is played in order to ensure player safety? peggy brand says, i think what the nfl is doing right now is a step in the right direction. i'm glad my son decided to stop playing in seventh grade. i probably want to ask him to stop. like us on facebook and join the conversation.
>>> up next, undaunted. from the home front to the combat zone . the author whose stories of military spouses inspired the hit series " army wives " brings us the real lives of women in uniform. [ male