The Chronic Crusade

MADISON, Wis. – A sort of “tradition” in sports medicine revolves around treating athletes with painkillers that can have damaging long-term effects, while also leading to the possibility of addiction.

But what happens when one of the most useful alternatives to opioid painkillers is illegal?

Cannabidiol, a non-toxic extract of marijuana also referred to as CBD or cannabis oil, has shown the ability to reduce seizures in young children, and has been heralded by several marijuana-friendly states as an agent that can cure myriad conditions, including chronic pain. However, the United States Federal Government in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration have deemed CBD oil an illegal substance.

Cannabidiol is considered a Schedule One drug (along with marijuana), which carries three factors: the substance has a high potential for abuse; the substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment; and it’s considered unsafe even under medical supervision. For researchers and scientists, the problem is that cannabidiol has shown such promise in the medical field that they’d like to study its effectiveness in other areas, but because it’s illegal to purchase in certain states (including Wisconsin), they are unable to fund studies on human subjects.

The Wisconsin State Assembly took a step towards easing that process earlier this month by passing a bill by a unanimous 98-0 vote that would allow legal possession of CBD oil for medical purposes. It does not, however, cover the legal transport of the substance, which must come from out of state due to a lack of legal dispensaries in Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker has yet to sign the bill into law but has said he supports the measure.
What could this mean for athletes?

Problem With Painkillers
Painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet have been used in athletic training rooms for decades. As some team trainers and doctors will admit, the process for an athlete to obtain those opioids has sometimes been effortless. It wasn’t until recent years that players and doctors have spoken out about the downsides to pain management. Some of the repercussions of using the drugs include vomiting, confusion, and addiction.

In 2014, almost 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids, while over 1,000 people every day are treated for misusing those prescriptions[1]. Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre outlined his struggles with Vicodin during a 2016 interview with Graham Bensinger.

“I don’t remember how the dynamics of [the addiction process] worked, but let’s say two [pills] gave me an effect I liked. After a month, two didn’t do anything, so you needed three and…then four and then so on.

“A month’s prescription was 30 pills or something, depending on what they prescribed for you. I was going through that in two days. So I was having to hustle [my teammates] – I’d ask this guy for pills and that guy for pills. I was going back around pretty quickly.”

The process by which Americans are prescribing these painkillers is part of the problem. In 2012, health care providers wrote out 259 million prescriptions for opioids, which is enough for every person living in the United States to have their own bottle. Americans are overdosing on painkillers at a rate of 46 people per day[2].

The Chronic Crusade
In an age where the legalization of marijuana has been a topic of debate for decades, more and more people are turning to the drug and derivatives like cannabidiol to treat their pain. While the spectrum of knowledge about CBD oil is very narrow at this point in time, researchers have found benefits for those suffering from seizures, certain cancers, and even bone fractures.
According to the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research[3], those who used CBD oil saw a faster recovery from bone fractures, which also healed stronger and were more resistant to future fractures.

But there are some downsides to cannabidiol.

While it can treat a variety of medical conditions, high concentrations of CBD oil may interfere with other medications the patient may be taking[4]. This happens when the oil interferes with the liver enzymes, making it difficult to break down other substances in the body. It’s also possible that the patient is unaffected by cannabidiol.

With the Wisconsin State Assembly passing the measure to legalize possession of CBD oil for medical use, a signature by Governor Scott Walker would turn that bill into law. Walker is in favor of the bill but said during a stop in Green Bay in early January that he’s not open to legalizing marijuana.

“I’m not interested in opening the door towards legalizing marijuana, be it overall or even for medical marijuana, because I think studies show medically there are much more viable alternatives.”

The State of Minnesota has legalized marijuana products on a medical basis, but it’s a lengthy process to obtain the drugs, ensuring fewer opportunities for abuse of the system. The first step to obtain medical marijuana or cannabis oil is to be prescribed at a clinic with one or more of the following conditions:

  • Cancer associated with severe/chronic pain, nausea
    or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • ALS
  • Seizures
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including
    those characteristic of Multiple Sclerosis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
  • Terminal illness, with a probable life expectancy of less
    than one year
  • Intractable pain

After diagnosis, the patient must visit a medical marijuana clinic to get entered into a database and wait for government approval. Once approved, the patient pays a $200 registration fee with the US Department of Health and is given an identification card. That card is then used for obtaining their prescription.

Upon receiving the identification card, Minnesota residents may then visit one of the three dispensaries in the state to obtain their 30-day prescription. For cannabis oil, the prescription generally comes in three forms: tablet, oil drops, or for use in a vaporizer pen.

It’s unclear when Governor Walker may sign that bill into law, but State Representative Melissa Sargent has authored several bills to pass full legalization in Wisconsin and predicts marijuana will soon be fully legalized.

“I believe that marijuana will be fully legalized in the state of Wisconsin in the next 10 years…It’s going to take a community of us. I’ve been working on this for almost four years and I’m only getting more and more passionate about it. As time goes by, I have more and more allies in my court.”

Part One: Introduction of marijuana and cannabidiol

Part Two: Debating cannabidiol as an alternatives to painkillers

Part Three: Ramifications of cannabidiol

Part Four: Future of cannabidiol in Wisconsin

 

The Chronic Crusade airs all week long on 106.7 FM / 1670 AM The Zone
Monday, Apr. 3 at 6 p.m.
Tuesday, Apr. 4 at 5 p.m.
Wednesday, Apr. 5 at 7 p.m.
Thursday, Apr. 6 at 7 a.m.
Friday, Apr. 7 at 6 a.m.

Cashing in on College Athletics

MADISON, Wis — In March of 2014, sports attorney Jeffrey Kessler filed an antitrust claim against the NCAA arguing that their current model of limiting compensation for student athletes at the cost of a scholarship is against the law.

The point of this lawsuit is not to provide an alternative for the NCAA or to receive damages, but to end its practice of unfair labor and allow players to be offered more. That opens up the door for the NCAA and the Division I football and basketball programs to decide how they want to compensate the players, but because Kessler isn’t seeking damages, the NCAA will likely have to face the lawsuit head-on.

University of Wisconsin athletes Nigel Hayes and Alec James are named as plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit and hope to bring change to the NCAA model. Sports attorney Jeff Katz of Patterson Law Firm in Chicago is one of a handful of subjects in the report to predict a bleak forecast for the outcome of Kessler’s litigation. Hear from Kessler, Katz, and former Wisconsin athletes Matt Bernstein, Reggie Torian, and Brandon Williams by clicking the link to the audio below.

Introduction

 

The Players

 

The Lawyers

 

Conclusion

 

You can also hear the report in its entirety on air Monday at 6 p.m., Tuesday at 5 p.m., Wednesday at 7 p.m., and Thursday at 7 a.m.

The next investigative report will focus on the effects of marijuana on athletes before, during, and after competition. Have a news tip? Email Eric.Rogers@MadCitySportsZone.com

Davis: All-Time Semi-Pro TD record starts with balance

He knelt down in the end zone with ball in hand, calmly reflecting upon himself and his 13 seasons of semi-professional football. As the whistle blew and the referee’s hands went up, it became clear | Reggie Davis had made history. He was now the sole record-holder with 122 career touchdowns.

 

There was no need to boast on the night of July 29 when the Madison Wolves receiver and Madison police officer hauled in two touchdowns in a 42-34 win over the Waukesha Raiders. The legacy Davis had built was a product of the heart he put into the game since he was a youngster.

Davis experienced unrest earlier in life than most. For many years of his childhood living on Madison’s east side, he witnessed his father using and selling drugs while his mother worked multiple jobs to help support Davis and his brother, Chris. His father’s involvement with drugs led to jail time but he began selling again upon his release. A drug deal gone wrong resulted in a strike to the back of the head, leaving him paralyzed on his entire right side. He’s been in a nursing home for the last 11 years.

Davis yearned for structure and consistency, something he found early on when he began playing football in middle school. He started as a cornerback and playing solely on the defensive side of the ball. But by the time he got to high school, he realized he was made to be a wide receiver.

“I noticed how big my hands were,” Davis recalled. “I had these big hands and then I was starting to realize how well I could catch the football.”

As a senior, Davis was named to the All-Big 8 Conference list, but he wasn’t done there.

He continued his education at the University of Wisconsin | Platteville, where he would be named to the All-Star Game roster his senior year and graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communications. Davis translated that degree into a radio broadcasting job as a disc jockey at WKPO | FM in Janesville.

Davis would pursue his football career in the semi-pros with various stints in La Crosse, Racine, and Milwaukee, all while driving back and forth from Janesville and Madison. He made his arrival back to the state’s capital permanent in 2004 when he moved in with his now-wife Andrea. He’d begin his semi-pro career the following year with the Madison Seminoles before the team eventually became known as the Madison Mustangs. At 28 years old in 2008, Davis had what he calls his greatest season ever: 32 receptions, 756 yards and 17 touchdowns. That despite playing in only 11 games as a part-time player.

2009 was perhaps the most physically-demanding year of his career. Davis played for the CIFL’s Madison Wolfpack, scoring 16 touchdowns in 13 games before also playing for the Mustangs in the same season. Davis would log 13 touchdowns in 10 games.

2009 was also a mentally challenging year for Davis, maintaining his relationship with Andrea while trying to join the Madison Police Department. A year later, he would accomplish that goal where he’s been protecting Madison’s west side ever since.

Davis found balance between the chaotic schedule of an officer and football player, which produced stability and further success.

In his seven seasons with the Mustangs, Davis would help generate five league championships, be named an All-American in 2009 and win three offensive MVP awards.

Michael Gilbertson (85), Ryan Aschaker (41), and Reggie Davis (81) on the sidelines late during an Ironman Football League game in 2010
Michael Gilbertson (85), Ryan Aschaker (41), and Reggie Davis (81) on the sidelines late during an Ironman Football League game in 2010

 

As he inched closer to the semi-pro record he would set in 2016, Davis learned what would become a very important term: anticipation.

“That’s what makes a quarterback good or bad,” Davis said via text message. “That’s why Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning are and were great because they threw the ball before [the] receiver made their moves.”

That anticipation guided him throughout his 13 seasons of semi-professional football, earning him all-star accolades in four different leagues (North American Football League, Ironman Football League, MidStates Football League, and Gridiron Football League).

As he reflected on his record-setting career on the football field, Davis realized the structure he craved is what created the opportunity to protect and serve.

“I got my job as a police officer because I played for the Madison Mustangs. When I got hired, they knew who I was because of the Madison Mustangs.”

However, the 2016 regular season is over for the Madison Wolves and they’ll begin the playoffs Saturday night against the Midway Marauders at Ahuska Park in Monona. In what could be Davis’ final game, the idea of retirement isn’t one he’s afraid to think about.

Is there another season in Davis’ future?

“I would say most likely not,” Davis stated confidently. “But it’s a playoff [game] and right now is time to just let it all loose and play every game like it’s my last.”

CTE Reaching More Than Just Football

By Eric Rogers
Apr. 28, 2016
MADISON, Wis. — During the airing of The Zone’s exclusive series “A Dying Tradition: Concussions and the NFL,” more has come to light regarding head injuries and the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Over the last few weeks, former University of Wisconsin and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland has been working with initiatives outside of football that allowed him to take his mind off concussions and the attention he’s brought to the effects they can have on long-term health.
Dr. Julian Bailes, M.D., the “Concussion” film doctor who we spoke with in our series, brought new information to light this week when he told the New York Daily News that former BMX rider Dave Mirra “may have had CTE.”
Bailes says CTE had not previously been discovered in BMX riders, but that repeated crashes over the course of a career could make it a possibility. MIrra suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound in February.
Also from the “Concussion” film, Dr. Bennett Omalu, will be receiving the brain of recently-deceased WWE star Chyna, who was found dead in her apartment earlier this month. The physical nature of her profession, along with a history of battling drugs, may have contributed to her death, although results have yet to be released.
One of the more recent high-profile NFL deaths is that of former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, who took his own life knowing there was something wrong in his brain. He suffered a gunshot wound to the chest.
Seau’s daughter, Sydney, was not initially allowed to speak at her father’s Hall of Fame induction due to “rule changes,” a decision that didn’t sit well with former Wisconsin Badgers, Denver Broncos, and 49ers defensive back Jason Suttle, For many of the doctors working with NFL teams, science has changed protocols for the better and research is allowing for better treatment of head injuries.
The same goes for the collegiate level. Dr. Alison Brooks, another expert featured in “A Dying Tradition: Concussions and the NFL,” says trainers at the UW can be trusted.Brooks was recently awarded with a $20,000 research grant for her work titled “Parent-Athlete Knowledge of Sport Volume Recommendations, Attitudes and Beliefs towards Sport Specialization.” Brooks believes the specialization of a single sport early in a child’s athletic career increases the risk of injury.
But there’s still work to be done as the medical field tries to learn more about brain diseases like CTE. Walker Williams, a former Badgers offensive lineman, says it starts at the lower levels of athletic programs.

Editor’s note: a special thank you to those who took part in “A Dying Tradition: Concussions and the NFL”

Dr. Julian Bailes
Chris Borland
Dr. Alison Brooks
Jake Current
Dr. David Kaufman
Jason Suttle
Walker Williams

Part 3 – Hope For The Future Of Football

By Eric Rogers
Apr. 27, 2016

“I believe Mr. Miller, in his formal representation of the NFL, has stated publicly and before congress that there is a relationship [between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy]. Furthermore, this CTE issue is not going away. A benefit to this debate, is that safety in sports has correctly become a national issue.”

Dr. David Kaufman, D.O., Professor and Chair of Neurology and Ophthalmology, Michigan State University Clinical Center
 
Dr. David Kaufman, D.O., Michigan State University Clinical Center, believes the NFL and vice president of health and safety Jeff Miller have identified and accepted that football can cause long-term brain health issues. Miller’s statements in March have brought public awareness to CTE, while the NFL’s research since the 2005 discovery of the disease shows improvements in the way current players are evaluated. Presently, there continues to be a rift between some of the league’s former players, with science and prevention remaining in no man’s land.
 
Dr. Alison Brooks, M.D., University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public health, feels the advancements in science haven’t answered the question of how to prevent long-term brain damage, but have merely uncovered a broader sense of how many players are affected. Her solution for prevention of CTE is to develop a test that can diagnose the problem before post-concussion syndromes reach a chronic state.
   
Former UW football players Jason Suttle and Walker Williams agreed that the NFL, among lower levels of football, have not provided enough advanced warning to its players about the potential dangers of participating in the sport. Additionally, both believe players have been sent back into a game even after suffering a concussion. Kaufman theorized that trainers and doctors who are not with the team on a frequent basis may miss some of the warning signs.
 
“…one of the early findings in concussion is personality change,” Kaufman said. “Unless you know the student-athlete well, it is quite possible an ‘independent’ doctor may miss this subtle clinical finding signaling a concussion. That would be regrettable.”
 
The American Academy of Neurology released its findings in a study[1], claiming over 40 percent of the former NFL players tested had developed traumatic brain injuries. Those players had been in the league for an average of seven years and accumulated an average of 8.1 concussions during their playing career.
 
Williams hadn’t even reached the NFL yet when he made the decision to walk away from football, having accumulated a diagnosed four concussions (all in college). Had he known during high school what he knows now about the sport and risk of head injuries, he wouldn’t have participated in college football. At 41 years of age, Suttle is already experiencing some short-term memory loss and says he may consider donating his brain in an effort to bring more knowledge to the topic and make the game safer.
 
Dr. Julian Bailes, M.D., Northshore Neurological Institute, believes the trend of players taking an early retirement will continue despite advancements in scientific knowledge. A lack of solutions by those same scientific communities make the NFL’s job tougher in earning the trust of its players, while players like Suttle want what’s best for their health.
   
Will we ever reach a point of total transparency?
 
Williams says the only way to get to the bottom of what he perceives as a cover-up by the NFL is to threaten its revenue by avoiding televised games and not purchasing NFL products. Suttle’s solution is to begin with the doctors who treat these athletes.
 

“Today, there’s still somewhat of a cover-up. But the good thing is, they’re going into independent doctors that evaluate players on an everyday basis. And especially during the games, they evaluate players and they’re not paid by the team’s that they’re working for.”

 
While the doctors I spoke with work towards developing the proper tools to diagnose and prevent CTE, they all believe more research is needed to generate solutions for this and other trauma-related diseases.
 
“Ongoing effort is needed to find ways to make this sport safer,” Dr. Kaufman said in an email response. “I feel privileged to be part of that effort.”
 
In the meantime, Dr. Bailes and Dr. Brooks are supporting efforts made by collegiate and professional football teams and their medical staffs.
     
This has been a Zone exclusive multi-part series…A Dying Tradition: Concussions and the NFL.
Has your family been affected by concussions? Tweet us using the hashtag #ADyingTradition and we’ll have a follow up article on MadCitySportsZone.com

As heard on The Sports Section | Part 3 Full:

Full interview | Dr. Alison Brooks:

Sources:[1] https://www.aan.com/PressRoom/Home/PressRelease/1453
 

Part 2 – Why Are Players Leaving The Game Of Football?

By Eric Rogers
Apr. 26, 2016

“Would I have still decided to play football at the collegiate level knowing what I know now about head injuries and knowing that I’ll get this amount of head injuries? No, I wouldn’t.”

Walker Williams, former University of Wisconsin offensive lineman, 2012-2014
 
The University of Wisconsin has had its share of football players walk away from the sport due to the possible long-term effects of head injuries. Walker Williams is the latest in a trio of young linemen to leave the Badger program just this offseason. Coincidentally, Arthur Goldberg announced his decision in March alongside Williams, while Hayden Biegel (his brother Vince is still on the team) left a few months earlier.
 
But Williams said head injuries aren’t an isolated incident at Wisconsin. Having played football his entire life, Williams predicted a concussion-filled playing career for all of those who participate in the sport.
   
Dr. Julian Bailes said teams at all levels of football are becoming more thorough in diagnosing concussions and have better systems in place to help those athletes recover properly. He said there are no medications currently prescribed to players suffering from concussion-related head injuries and that the uncertainty of future treatment of diseases like CTE and early-onset dementia have caused players to question the benefits of continuing their playing careers.
 
“It seems such that there’s a trend for more players taking an early retirement because of health reasons, and particularly concerns about chronic brain injury,” Bailes said during a phone interview last month. “So I think that’s happening, yes.”
 
While playing for the UW, Williams never felt any pressure to step back into the game while dealing with a head injury, but he said it has happened at lower levels of football and he was certain pressure exists at other universities. There’s no documented percentage of collegiate or NFL players stepping away from the game due to long-term risks, but former UW and NFL cornerback Jason Suttle isn’t confident his son should follow in his footsteps.
 

“I have a boy and he loves football. I’d be fine with him playing football, but honestly, I’d push him towards golf; I’d push him towards baseball; I’d push him towards these non-contact sports just because of the possibility of CTE”

 
On one hand, the NFL and Jeff Miller, senior vice president of health and safety, appear to have accepted the dangers of playing football and the possibility of brain diseases like CTE. At the same time, there isn’t uniform trust by former players at either the collegiate or professional level that the league is being transparent about the risks of these brain injuries. According to Suttle, comments[1] made by NFL owners at this year’s winter meetings provide some doubt as to the league’s priorities when it comes to acceptance of the effects of CTE. Colts owner Jim Irsay compared the risk of playing football to the risk when taking aspirin. Williams backed up Suttle’s viewpoint, saying “just because they’re on the books saying there’s no risk, doesn’t mean there’s no risk.”
 
In 1994, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue created the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) Committee in an attempt to learn more about concussions and the effects on NFL players. His decision to appoint Dr. Elliot Pellman, M.D. to lead the committee was met with criticism because Pellman has admittedly put players back in the game after being diagnosed with a concussion[2].
 
In December of 2015, an Outside the Lines report claimed the NFL had pulled $16 million out of a seven-year concussion and brain trauma study because the league didn’t believe the researcher assigned to the study was objective. The NFL responded to that report by calling it “inaccurate[3].”
 
Dr. Alison Brooks, MD, conducts most of her work with the University of Wisconsin in conjunction with the women’s hockey and men’s soccer programs. She says the UW is partnering with the NCAA and the U.S. Department of Defense as part of a $30 million multi-part study to help better understand CTE and perhaps find biomarkers to determine in living subjects whether or not they’ll develop post-concussion syndromes.
   
Both Suttle and Williams believe there’s a level of dishonesty happening in the NFL and Williams said a full admission wouldn’t spell the end of the football empire; there would always be players willing to participate in professional football.
 
Both former players also said the amount of revenue the NFL makes off its players is another reason they feel the league isn’t being more up-front about the potential long-term health effects. Telling players the entire truth about CTE could put their product at risk.
 
Williams said the NFL’s revenue would only be threatened if there were no consumers for the product.
 
“If people say ‘until you’re straight-up about this issue, I’m not going to watch the NFL,’” Williams said. “An even bigger thing is if [broadcast networks] say ‘we’re not going to be bidding anymore for Thursday Night Football.’”
 
While players and the NFL continue to be at odds over the issue, Dr. Alison Brooks, M.D. (University of Wisconsin), and Dr. David Kaufman, D.O. (Michigan State University), have been working behind the scenes to prevent the potentially deadly effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
As heard on The Sports Section | Part 2 Full: Don’t forget to hashtag #ADyingTradition on Facebook and Twitter

Full interview | Walker Williams:  
Sources:[1] http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/cte-nfl-owners-comments-jim-irsay-jerry-jones-robert-kraft-john-mara-dan-rooney-032916[2] http://espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3644940[3] http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/25423215/nfl-calls-report-of-league-pulling-concussion-research-funding-not-accurate

Part 1 – A Dying Tradition: Concussions And The NFL

By Eric Rogers
Apr 25, 2016

“We didn’t think that this could happen. We knew it could happen in boxers. We, I guess, assumed the helmet would be protective, but it isn’t.”

Julian Bailes, MD, Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and Co-Director of the NorthShore Neurological Institute based in Evanston, Ill.
In many ways, the “Concussion” film featuring Will Smith and Alec Baldwin has drawn positive attention towards the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). But while the science behind discovering the disease has led to advancements in how players are treated today, it leaves doctors and players with more questions than answers.Dr. Julian Bailes is a former team doctor for the Pittsburgh Steelers, currently the Chair of the Neurosurgery Department at NorthShore Neurological Institute in Illinois. In a phone interview on Mar. 22, Bailes said the game of football has changed dramatically since the 2005 discovery of CTE in former University of Wisconsin and Steelers center Mike Webster, but there continues to be public concern over the care for current players and their brain health.Former Badger Chris Borland is perhaps the most well-known athlete retiring from the NFL over fears he may develop long-term health problems. After multiple seasons on postseason awards lists with the UW and a promising rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers, Borland announced his retirement in March of 2015.[1] He’s received both praise and criticism for his comments, telling CBS News he believes football is “inherently dangerous.”[2]Jeff Miller, the National Football League’s senior vice president for health and safety, confirmed there is indeed a link between football and neurodegenerative diseases such as CTE. That admission came on Mar. 14[3] during a roundtable discussion with the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce.Bailes was pleased to hear of the league’s first public statement connecting the sport with head trauma.“I believe it’s a positive development,” Bailes said. “It should allow us to focus even more on no longer debating what is causing this CTE, but really looking at how we make football and all contact sports safer.”Bailes said to his knowledge, there has never been an attempt to withhold information from the players.In speaking with former players for the purpose of this report, none of them agreed with that statement. Bailes, along with Dr. Alison Brooks, M.D., and Dr. David Kaufman, D.O., took the stance that the NFL has done its due diligence in being fully transparent with its current players.A former defensive back for the UW, Denver Broncos, and San Francisco 49ers, Jason Suttle has reason to believe the NFL isn’t being fully truthful about the full effects of CTE, even after years of research on the condition.

“There’s no question. They [NFL] are protecting their assets. Let’s be honest. There’s 100 percent shadiness going on because the science doesn’t lie. They’re just protecting their back.”

In Bailes’ estimate, about 10 percent of those who suffer from chronic post-concussion syndromes develop CTE. Kaufman, Professor and Chair of Neurology and Ophthalmology at Michigan State University, says there’s no consensus over how many current players may develop the condition, but that “estimates vary from less than .01 percent to up to 25 percent.”Dr. Ann McKee, M.D., professor of neurology and pathology at Boston University, published a study[4] in October of 2012 finding CTE present in 87 percent (64 out of 56) of subjects with backgrounds in a contact sport. 50 of them had played some level of football, with 33 coming from the NFL.But with the science so strongly linking football with the potential for developing CTE and Miller already admitting that link, why are former players still at odds with a league so many young athletes aspire to reach?At just 41 years of age, Suttle says he’s already experiencing symptoms he fear may be from years of compounded head trauma.

“It’s definitely crossed my mind. I know that. I played football my whole life. Obviously I’ve had a lot of hits to the head because I played football my whole life. And I know that at this point in my life, there are things that seem like they could be some type of effect from football, like memory loss. I definitely have short-term memory loss. There’s no question about that (laughs). What it’s from? I don’t know, but it could come from the multiple concussions that I’ve had…”

Jason Suttle, former defensive back, University of Wisconsin, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers
Suttle’s main concern is that during his playing days, the NFL didn’t allow him the opportunity to choose whether he wanted to continue down a potentially dangerous path. He claims the NFL knew for years that repetitive head trauma would have long-term effects, even prior to the discovery of CTE.Bailes challenges that viewpoint, asserting that the NFL continues to do everything in its power to limit traumatic brain injury and is forthcoming with knowledge on the subject. Suttle disagrees with that assertion, instead claiming Bailes is trying to stay in the league’s good graces.

“He’s siding with the NFL because he’s probably getting pressured from people who have a lot of money and a lot of influence to keep him silent and to make sure that he sides with the powers that be.”

If Suttle’s theory is true, it wouldn’t be the first time the NFL has pressured or threatened an entity into a softer angle when it comes to head trauma. On Mar. 24 of this year, the NFL asked the New York Times to remove an article outlining the league’s “flawed concussion research.”[5] The Times also alleges the NFL had a hand in forming aspects of the 2015 film “Concussion” and changing key plot points to “prevent NFL protests.”[6]Concussions and CTE became a mainstream topic at the NFL owners meetings last month.[7] Perhaps the most startling comments came from Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who felt the risk of playing football was no larger than when taking an aspirin.NFL Spokesperson Greg Aiello couldn’t be reached for comment on these statements.In 2013, the NFL reached a $765 million settlement with over 18,000 former players over head trauma and other concussion-related brain injuries. Suttle says he received about $2,000 as part of the class-action lawsuit.While the NFL has been the target of criticism and lawsuits for many current and former players, youth and collegiate football are largely distanced when it comes to those same head trauma allegations. Dr. David Kaufman, D.O. at Michigan State University, believes levels of football below the NFL have a lesser risk of long-term diseases such as CTE.

“The current bias among most Neurologists is the risk of CTE is far less in college players than professionals. There are only a few brain autopsy reports of college players without professional experience that have shown CTE. This is out of the hundreds of thousands that have played the sport the last several years at hundreds of university and college programs.”

Walker Williams, a mechanical engineering student at the UW and former offensive lineman, is the latest to walk away from the sport before even reaching what’s largely considered the pinnacle of the football mountain.

As heard on The Sports Section | Part 1 Full: Don’t forget to hashtag #ADyingTradition on Facebook and Twitter

Full Interviews:  
Sources:[1] http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000479460/article/san-francisco-49ers-chris-borland-retiring-from-nfl[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/19/chris-borland-retirement_n_6901766.html[3] http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4584941/nfl-official-acknowledges-link-concussions-cte[4] http://www.bu.edu/cte/files/2009/10/McKee-2012-Spectrum-of-CTE1.pdf[5] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/25/sports/football/nfl-concussion-research-tobacco.html?_r=0[6] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/02/sports/football/makers-of-sonys-concussion-film-tried-to-avoid-angering-nfl-emails-show.html[7] http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/cte-nfl-owners-comments-jim-irsay-jerry-jones-robert-kraft-john-mara-dan-rooney-032916

Series Preview – A Dying Tradition: Concussions And The NFL

By Eric Rogers
Apr. 24 1:46 p.m. CT
MADISON, Wis. — Beginning on Monday, The Zone goes in-depth with former NFL doctors and players to uncover the truth behind concussions and what the league may have been hiding.Who:

Dr. Julian Bailes, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery, Co-Director of the NorthShore Neurological Institute
Dr. Alison Brooks, M.D., M.P.H., University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
Dr. David Kaufman, D.O., Professor and Chair of Neurology and Ophthalmology, Michigan State University Clinical Center
Jason Suttle, former University of Wisconsin, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers defensive back
Walker Williams, former University of Wisconsin offensive lineman
What:

A Dying Tradition: Concussions and the NFL.
A multi-part series outlining the history of concussions in football, and the associated chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Subjects give their take on the disease and what the NFL is doing about it.

When: Monday through Wednesday, Apr. 25, 26, 27 at 5:06 p.m. CT during the Sports Section and onlineWhere: 106.7 FM / 1670 AM The Zone and Madcitysportszone.comWhy: To uncover reasons behind early player retirement and determine how to prevent CTE before the disease develops

A Dying Tradition: Concussions And The NFL

Last winter’s “Concussion” film brought attention to the issue of concussions and the deadly brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). In a multi-part series, The Zone’s own Eric Rogers talked with leading doctors and former Wisconsin football players, who continue to battle over who’s telling the truth about CTE.

Follow along on-air April 25, 26, and 27 at 5:06 p.m. during The Sports Section and online at MadCitySportsZone.com

Stay up-to-date on social media by using the hashtag #ADyingTradition

The Chronic Crusade

MADISON, Wis. – A sort of “tradition” in sports medicine revolves around treating athletes with painkillers that can have damaging long-term effects, while also leading to the possibility of addiction. But what happens when one of the most useful alternatives to opioid painkillers is illegal? Cannabidiol, a non-toxic extract of marijuana also referred to as […]

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Cashing in on College Athletics

MADISON, Wis — In March of 2014, sports attorney Jeffrey Kessler filed an antitrust claim against the NCAA arguing that their current model of limiting compensation for student athletes at the cost of a scholarship is against the law. The point of this lawsuit is not to provide an alternative for the NCAA or to receive damages, […]

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CTE Reaching More Than Just Football

By Eric Rogers Apr. 28, 2016 MADISON, Wis. — During the airing of The Zone’s exclusive series “A Dying Tradition: Concussions and the NFL,” more has come to light regarding head injuries and the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Over the last few weeks, former University of Wisconsin and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland […]

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Part 3 | Hope For The Future Of Football

By Eric Rogers Apr. 27, 2016 “I believe Mr. Miller, in his formal representation of the NFL, has stated publicly and before congress that there is a relationship [between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy]. Furthermore, this CTE issue is not going away. A benefit to this debate, is that safety in sports has correctly become […]

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Part 2 | Why Are Players Leaving The Game Of Football?

By Eric Rogers Apr. 26, 2016 “Would I have still decided to play football at the collegiate level knowing what I know now about head injuries and knowing that I’ll get this amount of head injuries? No, I wouldn’t.” Walker Williams, former University of Wisconsin offensive lineman, 2012-2014   The University of Wisconsin has had […]

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Part 1 | A Dying Tradition: Concussions And The NFL

By Eric Rogers Apr 25, 2016 “We didn’t think that this could happen. We knew it could happen in boxers. We, I guess, assumed the helmet would be protective, but it isn’t.” Julian Bailes, MD, Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery and Co-Director of the NorthShore Neurological Institute based in Evanston, Ill. In many ways, […]

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Series Preview | A Dying Tradition: Concussions And The NFL

By Eric Rogers Apr. 24 1:46 p.m. CT MADISON, Wis. — Beginning on Monday, The Zone goes in-depth with former NFL doctors and players to uncover the truth behind concussions and what the league may have been hiding.Who: Dr. Julian Bailes, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery, Co-Director of the NorthShore Neurological Institute Dr. […]

0 comments

A Dying Tradition: Concussions And The NFL

Last winter’s “Concussion” film brought attention to the issue of concussions and the deadly brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). In a multi-part series, The Zone’s own Eric Rogers talked with leading doctors and former Wisconsin football players, who continue to battle over who’s telling the truth about CTE. Follow along on-air April […]

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A Dying Tradition: Concussions In The NFL

Listen April 25-27 at 5pm.

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