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 #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
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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