By Ken Reed
Former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling killed himself in April. Late last month his widow, and the rest of us, learned that there were clear signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in his brain, a progressive brain disease linked directly to repetitive blows to the head.
“It was consistent with what my expectations were,” said Dr. Gregory O’Shanick, Easterling’s neurologist. “Without question, the only time you see this is with multiple concussions.”
Mary Ann Easterling had to deal with her husband’s deteriorating condition for years. Ray Easterling, 62 when he shot himself, began suffering from dementia and depression only a decade into his retirement from the NFL.
The autopsy report, while not surprising to Easterling’s wife, was still impactful.
“The extent of the damage to his brain made me very sad,” said Easterline. “It amazed me to think about what he dealt with every day inside his head. It left me a little speechless.”
The NFL is being sued by more than 3,000 retired players, or their relatives, in a class-action lawsuit against the league based on how the NFL has dealt with concussions and head trauma through the years.
That lawsuit, and recent research on brain trauma, has spurred the NFL to make changes in their safety procedures, in particular relating to head trauma. That’s all well and good — especially for today’s players — but it won’t help the thousands of former players who are struggling mightily with the repercussions of having given their bodies and minds to a league that historically has been more interested in wins and profits than the wellbeing of its employees on the field.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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