Peyton Manning’s comments on the discovery of CTE in the brain of Junior Seau

Dear alumni:

Here is a link to an article in Sports that was written by Peter King on January 15, 2013.

In the interview, Peyton Manning says other than chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), there are other causes to be considered — namely, depression and post-career transition, both of which could have been major points of emphasis in the decline and death of Seau.”

In the article Peyton quotes Eric Hipple, who told him that “CTE certainly can exacerbate depression. But CTE has become a catch-bag for every problem now, and I don’t think it should be.” 

I disagree that CTE has become a catch-bag for “every” problem now.

When former players make blanket statements like that, they need to remember that the NFL is looking over our shoulder and is gathering as much rebuttal information as they can to defend themselves against the concussion lawsuits. If our case goes to trial, there is no doubt in my mind that the NFL will try to get a judge and jury to believe that it is depression and not CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) that are plaguing the former players that have filed suit. All they need is a few jurors to believe that “suggestion” and our ship goes down like the Titanic. Loose lips sink ships.

As I have stated before, there are approximately 15,000 to 20,000 former players that are still alive, but only 4,000 have filed concussion lawsuits. Obviously, not every former player feels that the concussions and/or sub-concussive blows they took to their heads are the reasons they might be experiencing the symptoms that accompany CTE or TBI.

Eric is a good advocate for retired players and I have a tremendous amount of respect for the work he is doing to help former players that have depression problems. He is one of the 4,000 players that have filed a concussion lawsuit against the NFL, so he knows a lot more about this issue than most players that have offered their two-cents – including me.

Eric is an outreach specialist with the University of Michigan’s Depression Center. You can get more information at this link: Professional Athlete Evaluation. At the bottom of the page it says you can learn more about this program by contacting the NFL Players Association. The NFLPA has a contract with the Depression Center to help former players and they have conducted research on depression. Here is an article on one player that received assistance:  NFL Players Association helps former Detroit Lions receiver Charles Rogers in his battle with marijuana, alcohol issues. If you need help with depression, please contact the Depression Center or the NFLPA.

If our case goes to trial, the issue of “what” causes depression in players will be examined very closely, but there is no dispute in the scientific research and evidence that is available that brain injury causes depression. Let’s leave it at that – and let the judge and jury sort out the facts.

Let’s not make the case any easier for the NFL by giving them ammunition shot out of our own mouths.

Neither Peyton Manning, nor Eric Hipple, to my knowledge, have specifically questioned the motives or sincerity of former players that have filed concussion lawsuits against the NFL, but the implication that CTE has become the catch-bag for every problem is not helping our case.

As it is, we will have an uphill battle proving that brain damage was a result of the concussions we sustained in the NFL.  Remember, CTE can only be diagnosed after a player has died and his brain has been dissected and viewed at a microscopic level.  The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) at Boston University School of Medicine has found that all 11 of the former NFL and college football players studied (post-mortem) have shown signs of CTE.

Waiting until someone dies in order to determine if they have CTE could change with new studies that have been conducted. I should note that the CSTE is currently conducting a study with the ultimate goal of developing methods of diagnosing CTE during life. They are looking for former players to participate. It is called the DETECT (Diagnosing and Evaluating Traumatic Encephalopathy Using Clinical Tests) study. You can help with this research by signing up at this site: Get involved and participate in research.

In the meantime, the best evidence we have are the symptoms we are experiencing (memory impairment, emotional instability, erratic behavior, depression and problems with impulse control) and the testimony of our doctors, wives, family members and friends.

With all that being said, here are Peyton Manning’s comments on the discovery of CTE in the brain of Junior Seau:

[With the ABC/ESPN report last week that Junior Seau’s brain contained evidence of brain disease caused by multiple hits to the head, it is now imperative, obviously, that the league do as much as possible for the mental health of ex-players — and that efforts continue to remove helmet-to-helmet hits from the game.

I also think, other than chronic traumatic encephalopathy(CTE), there are other causes to be considered — namely, depression and post-career transition, both of which could have been major points of emphasis in the decline and death of Seau.

This morning, I spoke with former Lions quarterback Eric Hipple, now an outreach specialist with the University of Michigan’s Depression Center. He’s a victim of depression himself, and his 15-year-old son killed himself in 2000 after suffering from depression. He was between sessions, he said, with a former NFL player who is depressed. That shouldn’t be a surprise, he said, given the results of a NFL Players Association poll of former players, in which 15 percent of 1,600 players polled said they have felt moderately to severely depressed since the end of their careers; the national average for men is about nine to 12 percent.”

“There is no doubt in my mind that CTE creates problems with some former players, and it’s a contributor to depression for sure,” said Hipple. “CTE certainly can exacerbate depression. But CTE has become a catch-bag for every problem now, and I don’t think it should be. Jovan Belcher happens [the murder of his girlfriend, and Belcher’s suicide], and everybody wonders if CTE did it. There is simply no data to confirm that CTE is the dominant reason for suicide.”

Hipple believes the transition from a football life to a civilian one is the most difficult one to handle.

“When players leave football, I’ve found almost everyone goes through a process of thinking, ‘What do I do now? What’s my identity now?’ Their support system was taken away. All of a sudden, the support system, the friends, the money, the identity, is gone. If I want to see a doctor, I’ve got to make an appointment; I don’t have a doctor available to me at all times. It’s pretty devastating when you get cut. Or you get injured, and you’re released. But nobody ever talks about it. It’s a traumatic event. Look at research on ostracism. Psychologically, it’s tough. That in itself can lead to depression.

“Then you get out in the world, and, let’s say you’ve been in the NFL for eight years. You find yourself competing for a job against people who have been in the line of work for eight years. You’ve been working hard on football, and now you’re way behind everyone when you go out in the field. Then you add the chronic pain, which some players have. And people saying to you, ‘You played the greatest game in the world? I would have done anything to be able to do that. What can be wrong with you?”

”Hipple’s advice to the NFL (and he has spoken to commissioner Roger Goodell about this): The day a player gets cut, debrief him — tell him about the post-career resources available to him, and emphasize mental health care; connect him to a post-career support system.

“I’m as mentally healthy as I’ve ever been, and it’s because of education,” he said. He wishes he could have had a chance to speak with Seau before his suicide last May — but he says he wishes he could talk to every former player to tell them there’s hope, even if a player has a brain injury, to deal with the depression that might be plaguing them.

CTE, Hipple believes, should be part of a mosaic of the post-career player issues. But it shouldn’t be the only thing experts study when lives go so tragically wrong.]


About Jeff Nixon

Jeff was a first team consensus All-American from the University of Richmond in 1978. He is 7th in NCAA history with 23 career interceptions. Played for the Buffalo Bills 1979-1984. Led the team with 6 interceptions in Rookie Year. Holds Bills record for 4 takeaways in a single game - 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Tied Bills record with four consecutive games with an interception. After 5 knee surgeries Jeff retired from pro football in 1985. He worked for 13 years (1988-2000) as the Youth Bureau Director for Buffalo and Erie County. He has worked for the past 11 years as the Youth Employment Director for Buffalo. Plays guitar and was voted best R&B guitar player by Buffalo Nightlife Magazine in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Posted on March 28, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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