Well done, Mrs. Fujita

This is quite good, from the wife of the Browns linebacker:

My husband could have lost his life to a staph infection. His NFL doctors and trainers were heating/icing/stemming his knee for a bursa-sac rupture and ignoring all the major signs of infection, while his body was screaming that something else must be wrong. He ended up in an emergency operation weeks after symptoms began. Following five nights in hospital isolation and many weeks beating back the infection, he was ready to play for the city we love and a team we built our life around. He would help them win the coveted Super Bowl Championship. Less than a month later he would be gone, feeling completely expendable and replaceable as if his blood, sweat and tears did not matter.

Now I know many don’t want to hear our complaints: we made our bed and now we have to lie in it. But what about the pro football players of tomorrow who have no idea what they are stepping into?  Boys who are playing football because they love it and have found something they are really good at? They see the pride on their family’s faces every time they strap on that helmet, but these young men have no idea of the pain they will endure or the true uncertainty of their career choice. They have no idea how long they will work or when their bodies will say “no” to the abuse. What these men need to know is that as they step on the field and risk major injury—while generating billions of dollars for this industry—the billionaires who write the checks are not looking out for them. They need to know that they are going to be lied to. They need to know that when they suffer an injury they will be told they should buck up and play.

But the day will come when they decide to walk away from the sport they played for the last 20 years of their lives. The sport which taught them to play through pain, to never complain, to never stop, to yell, to scream, to hit, to fight, to destroy the man in front of them, to work until they puke, to lay their body on the line every Sunday and just hope that they walk off that field and aren’t carried. That day will come when they leave this game—the game that used them and abused them, yet the game they loved so passionately.

Each man will walk away thinking that if his knees are to give out, hopefully it happens in the next 5 years before his health coverage expires. And if he has to cover himself with money from his own pocket, he will hope it doesn’t break him. Insurance companies aren’t looking to cover the 10-year veteran pro football player with the pounding migraines and ALS or severe depression that could be lurking just around the corner. His knees and back are sure to give out faster than the average person, and he may lose his mind due to all the concussions.

Read the whole thing.  I think it fits with Bill Simmons’ lockout piece quite well.

I’m sure you’ll be shocked by this, but I find myself siding with the NFL players during these negotiations.  I certainly don’t fault the players for playing hardball (I mean, it’s just their health and their livelihood at stake) and I don’t really get siding with owners.

If you think you’d play 16 (or 18!) games of NFL football for free (or practically nothing), I get that.  These guys are playing a games for millions (well, most of ’em make thousands) and now they’re complaining.  But siding with the owners? At least the players are making the physical and mental sacrifices.  Sure, they get compensated but what do the owners do? You think NFL players are rich? The owners are the guys who are signing their checks (with apologies to Chris Rock).

Yes, I want there to be NFL games next year, but I’d also like knowing that these men we cheer for on Sundays won’t be broken husks of themselves demented and living in squalor in 20 years.

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3 Responses to Well done, Mrs. Fujita

  1. Nick says:

    I understand both sides of the argument. And I lean in favor of the owners probably at 55-45.

    In one hand, it is a business and the owners are business men, and that’s what good business men do. Make deals to make them millions, or possibly billions, at the expense of their employees or working staff. So I can’t blame them for putting up a fight. It’s easy for us to sit back and say, “well they already have so much money already.” Well, yeah, and they want more. Who doesn’t want more money? I don’t care if you don’t ever need it or won’t ever spend it, you still want it.

    And as for the players, especially with Robert Gooddell coming out with all the new rules for the players protection for late hit, helmet to helmet hits, a hit to the quarterbacks head, a low hit on the quarterback, a defenseless receiver… and I’m sure there’s more, they just want to know that they are protected on and off the field. I can’t blame them for wanting the better benefits and treatment after retirement… but at the same time, they are making millions (yes, Ben, some ONLY hundreds of thousands). The league minimum last year was over 300K. And the league minimum is mostly for players that don’t ever see the field other than cases of injury. But they also need to realize that they got hired by a company to do a job. A job that they should be well compensated for in monetary value. They’ve played the sport growing up, they know the risk of injury… If they don’t want to take that risk, then I’ll sign a contract right now for the league minimum, have team trainers bulk me up, a team dietitian prepare and regulated what I eat and I’ll go risk serious injury to play a professional sport for a living.

    I’m confident that there will be an NFL season this upcoming year. There is too much money to be made without it. Let us not for get the number of people that would go unemployed without the NFL… I’m talking players, coaches, trainers, analysts, commentators, referees, ball boys, security guards, stadium vendors, stadium janitors, parking vendors, field crew, the people with stands outside stadiums selling t-shirts, and who can forget the black guy in Cleveland that plays his Sax after every game…..

    And that’s only a small bundle of people that will be directly affected if the NFL doesn’t play a game this year…. I won’t even get into the marketing value from tv time…..

  2. Ben says:

    I’m saying those people making 300,000 grand a year (pre-tax) won’t just be able to just sit on that money for the rest of their lives to cover their injuries. Point is it’s not like all these guys are millionaires who can just play in the NFL and then retire nicely. These guys don’t have guaranteed money and can be cut anytime.

    and from the concussion studies coming out (listen to the BS Report with Chis Nowinski), a lot of these guys (or ANYONE) don’t know the serious long term health effects by playing this game. Long term brain problems, early death, dementia… you could be taking 10-20 years off your life.

    and the hits and penalties… you can’t say you’re concerned about player health (as te owners do) yet also push for a 18 game season. just doesn’t make sense.

  3. Nick says:

    And I get that. I’m all for them receiving better long term medical benefits. I couldn’t agree more that there isn’t enough information about the future risks or the side effects from the physical play and that they should have better coverage for a longer period after, or even indefinitely.

    Those guys that only make that 300K pre-tax aren’t seeing nearly as many hits, especially dangerous game time ones from non-team mates. And it’s more likely that they won’t ride a bench for 10 years in the NFL anyway.

    I’d love to see an 18 game season…. BUT I know it won’t and shouldn’t happen.

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