Herschel Walker – Et tu, Brute?

Dear Alumni:

Sorry if I come across a little harsh today. Maybe it has something to with the “Ides of March”. On this day in history, Julius Caesar got stabbed in the back by someone he thought was his friend. His famous last words were “Et tu, Brute?” or You too, Brutus?

I guess I’m just getting a little disturbed by some of the former players that have recently made comments to the national media about the concussion lawsuits against the NFL. They are stabbing us in the back.

In a USA Today article, Herschel Walker states the obvious: “Concussions aren’t always to blame.”

He says “We’re all crazy in some sense.”

We are not all crazy in some sense. But in some sense, he is “challenged”.  I prefer to use that word, because the word “crazy” can be very stigmatizing. Especially to someone who has a diagnosed mental disorder.

In his 2008 autobiography Breaking Free, Walker revealed that he suffers from dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as “multiple personality disorder”. He claimed that due to his disorder, he cannot remember the season he won the Heisman Trophy, let alone the moment. He also claimed that during one episode, he held a gun to his head and played Russian roulette with a loaded pistol. He stated he did not remember the event.

In an article posted on the Army’s website, [Walker told Soldiers that after his football career, he ignored his loved ones, who pleaded with him to seek help for his restless and troubling behaviors. One day, Walker even grabbed his gun in a rage to go confront and murder a deliveryman whom he said had wronged him.]

I am glad to hear that Herschel has undergone treatment for this condition, but I don’t think he’s the NFL’s best spokesperson on the concussion lawsuits.

I do not want to stigmatize Herschel. He has done some great work in the community to make sure that people suffering from mental health problems are treated with compassion and sensitivity. That is a true and noble cause.

Nonetheless, I can’t help but wonder if his condition may have been brought about by concussions he may have suffered in the past.

Two symptoms of brain damage, are memory loss and impulse control.

Forgetting things can be a problem, but putting a gun to your head, or in the case of Dave Duerson, Ray Easterling and Junior Seau – to your heart – is something that a normal brain usually does not consider. Unfortunately, those three men went one step further.

I pray that Herschel never takes that step. It is one impulse that can’t be corrected through counseling and treatment.

I don’t know when Herschel was diagnosed with the disorder, or if football had anything to do with his condition, but, if he hasn’t already done so, I would highly recommend that he get a free NFL neurocognitive assessment and that he keep the NFL Lifeline phone number 1-800-506-0078 on him at all times.

Players that are experiencing suicidal and murderous thoughts need professional help, and I encourage all my NFL bothers to reach out to anyone that you think may need to be counseled and treated.

In the article, Herschel says “The NFL has a problem. It has to determine the difference between (the effects of) concussions and depression. If players lose their money, or wife, or children because of what they’re doing, they’ll act different. But you can’t throw everything on concussions.”

The NFL does have a problem, but I don’t think we want them to determine the difference between concussions and depression. We already know what they will say.  We want the court (a judge and a jury) to make that kind of determination. And just for the record, one of the other symptoms of brain damage is depression.

It is important to note that there are about 15,000 players that played in the AFL and NFL that are still living. Many of them could potentially join the lawsuit.

The fact is, only 4,000 have filed suit, so obviously there are a lot of players that aren’t blaming “anything” on concussions. Good for them. They have the right to remain silent and they also have the right to join the fight, if they so desire.

What really bothers me is when former players like Deion Sanders and Herschel Walker use their celebrity status to fight against former players and make statements to a national audience that cast doubt on the reasons why players have filed suit.

The NFL and their mouthpieces would like everyone to believe that the former players that are suing the League are nothing more than greedy, money grubbing, looking for a payday, crybabies that “lost their money, or wife, or children because of what they’re doing.”

And guess what, its working! If you look at the fan comments on any blog that has posted articles about the concussion lawsuits, you will see that a huge majority of comments express that very same sentiment.

Those statements are not true, but remember we are raging against the machine: a well oiled, well financed and well “lawyered-up” group of millionaires and billionaires that have a lot of power over the message and the media. It is an uphill fight for retired players and it gets even harder when we keep getting shot by “friendly” fire.  Actually, some of the people we thought were our friends, were never on our team to begin with.

I don’t deny that there could be some dubious claims and that some former players in the lawsuit have a lesser degree of injury than others. But it is not my place, or Herschel Walker’s, or “Neon” Deion’s, or anyone else for that matter, to question the motives, truthfulness, or veracity of anyone who has filed a lawsuit.

What Herschel and Deion have said about former players – both verbally and in writing – almost border on defamation of character. A person can be sued for libel and slander for making false and defamatory statements about a person or a group of people. Those two are getting close to the edge and I’d like them to know that we have some very good lawyers in our corner too!

Like I said, the concussion lawsuit will be determined by a judge and jury.  They will decide on the merits and facts of the case and not on what some people think they know.

What many people do not seem to know, is that you don’t need to be knocked unconscious to have damage done to your brain. Researchers have discovered that it is the cumulative effect of “sub-concussive” blows sustained in hundreds of practices and games that probably does the most damage.

Now, back to Walker, Texas Ranger!

The article says that Herschel Walker just went to Capitol Hill as part of a delegation representing sporting goods manufacturers lobbying for funding for grants to schools for physical education. That’s a good and noble cause, but I can’t help but feel he’s being used by businessmen that are probably more interested in selling their products than they are in helping kids.

Herschel’s also working with the U.S. military in an effort to treat soldiers who had concussions. That’s a good and noble cause too, but why doesn’t he work with NFL players that had concussions and why doesn’t he support the former players that have filed suit to compensate them for lost wages, lost memories, health care costs and other problems that can be attributed to their head injuries.

Herschel has also fought in the MMA (not very good for the brain) and says “It’s time to get out, it’s a young man’s sport. My problem is I still think I’m young.”

Herschel’s problem is not that he thinks he is still young. His problem is that he thinks he can speak with authority on the issue of concussions and at the same time question the motives of players that have filed suit against the NFL.

Maybe I am crazy……….for thinking anything I have said here will make a difference. I hope for the sake of the men that have been damaged beyond repair, that someone will take this to heart and do what they can to continue to spread the word – the truth.

We have a big giant (the NFL) in front of us, and he will not go down without a fight. But remember this; it took only one rock for David to slay Goliath.

Just think what we can do with hundreds and thousands of rocks aimed properly.

Just start slinging…..my alumni brothers!

Jeff Nixon

Here’s the article:

Herschel Walker: NFL concussions aren’t always to blame

Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY Sports, March 13, 2013

Ex-NFL star Herschel Walker will lobby on Capitol Hill Wednesday for federal funding for physical education in schools.

McLEAN, Va. — One of the NFL’s greatest all-time running backs says the long-term effects of concussions are likely being exaggerated.

“Everybody blames everything on concussions,” Herschel Walker told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. “The NFL has a problem. It has to determine the difference between (the effects of) concussions and depression. If players lose their money, or wife, or children because of what they’re doing, they’ll act different. But you can’t throw everything on concussions.”

Walker, who suffered a concussion while playing at Georgia before he won the 1982 Heisman Trophy, works with the U.S. military in efforts to treat soldiers who had concussions. And he chronicled his own mental health issues in his 2008 memoir Breaking Free, in which he discussed dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as so-called multiple personality disorder.

The NFL and current and former players are trying to discern the effect of concussions. More than 3,500 former players are suing the league because they contend it did not protect them from long-term damage. Walker, though, says, “You can’t just throw everything on concussions.”

He adds that it’s not always possible to find a cause for unusual behavior. “We’re all crazy in some sense,” Walker said. “And everybody tries to throw solutions at things. But what if it’s just that you’re bad.”

Walker suggests drug and alcohol use might also be factors for players struggling after they’ve left the game. And Walker, who says he doesn’t even take Aspirin, is adamantly against drug use in and out of sports. He says he wasn’t aware of performance-enhancing drugs during his playing days, which included three seasons in the now-defunct United States Football League and 12 seasons in the NFL before he retired after the 1997 season.

Drug use in sports, he says, “Absolutely insults me. … Lance Armstrong is a jerk.” And in the country at large, “Marijuana used to be considered so bad. Now states are voting to legalize it. What’s next? Legalizing cocaine?”

If Walker, who lives in Dallas, sounds a bit like a politician, don’t be surprised: He says he’s vaguely interested in running for public office — although he says he doesn’t know if he’d run as a Republican or Democrat.

He’ll be on Capitol Hill Wednesday as part of a delegation representing sporting goods manufacturers lobbying for a continuation of federal funding for grants to schools for physical education as well as for new proposed legislation that would allow consumers to spend money from their health saving accounts on sports gear or other things that improve their health.

Walker, who’s helped with that lobbying since 2000, says he’s partly motivated by personal experience: “P.E. was my life in school. Without it, I wouldn’t be standing here. It gave me confidence when I was an overweight kid with a speech impediment.”

Walker, who owns a food company and promotions firm, is still in excellent physical shape and participates in mixed martial arts. He’s expects to fight his third — and last — MMA match on Showtime in June, although he says his opponent hasn’t been finalized. “It’s time to get out,” he said. “It’s a young man’s sport. My problem is I still think I’m young.”


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 30, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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