By Ken Reed
T.J. Abraham worked hard at football while an offensive lineman at Duquense University. He worked so hard that he got his “bell rung” upwards of 70 times.
After his football career ended, he worked hard at being an obstetrics & gynecology doctor, sometimes putting in 100-hour work weeks.
Today, the now 42-year-old is retired because his brain doesn’t work properly. His official diagnosis is neurodegenerative dementia but his doctors in Boston, Philadelphia and California believe it is very likely he is suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative brain disease linked to repetitive trauma to the head. (The average college football player experiences 800-1,000 blows to the head during a single season, according to Boston University’s CTE center.) CTE can only be officially confirmed via autopsy.
There’s no cure for Abraham. His condition (temper tantrums, memory loss, judgment lapses, etc.) is only going to worsen. Along with dealing with the pain of knowing he will gradually continue to deteriorate physically and mentally, Abraham is having to deal with the emotional pain of knowing he won’t be there for his kids as they grow up.
“My daughter asks me: ‘Daddy, is your brain getting better?’” says Abraham. “And my heart breaks because I know the answer is no.”
Abraham spends some of his time these days fighting to get youth football banned, despite the enjoyment the sport brought him as a player and coach.
“I do not want to see anyone lose what I’ve lost or experience this disease,” wrote Abraham in his testimony for a New York State Assembly hearing on youth football. “I strongly urge you to ban tackle football at the age of 12 and younger in the state of New York.”
Abraham is a young man who can’t remember his wedding or the birth of his daughter. He can no longer help people through his chosen profession. But he’s hoping his efforts to ban youth football will help others avoid his fate.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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