It’s not just us…
The article at the link is pretty good, too.
I dare you to read former North Carolina player Ryan Hoffman’s heartbreaking story…
“Look, I’m still in tiptop physical shape and can probably run a marathon,” Hoffman said, the words tumbling out of a mouth missing a tooth that was knocked out in a street fight. “It’s my brain that keeps me from being a productive member of society. I’m physically very strong, but I’m mentally so weak. Something is wrong with me. I don’t know what it is, but I used to be normal, you know?
“I’m confident — well, I’m pretty sure — that football had something to do with it.”
Football’s toll on its participants is well established. We know about dozens of former N.F.L. players who were left with severe brain damage from repeated blows to the head. Their stories often contain disturbingly similar details — depression, substance abuse, memory loss, dementia — and their brain damage was always revealed posthumously.
But there are many more former players out there wondering if they are football’s next casualties. Most of those players are not famous. Most never made a dime off the game. They are relatively anonymous men who played the sport in college and only later, for some reason or another, have found themselves struggling in life.
Just like their N.F.L. counterparts, Hoffman and those former college players have been left to wonder: Did football do this? Are the hits to the head I took the reason for my decline? Or would I be in this condition even if I’d never played a down?
They might never know the answer, because a definitive answer might not exist.
Hoffman blames football for scrambling his brain, but at this point it is impossible to disentangle what could be football-related brain injuries from his subsequent drug use and possibly genetic mental illness. He simply cannot be sure. No one can.
… and not see Mark Richt’s Paul Oliver Network in a different, less cynical way. I know I can’t.
Let me light the chafing dishes… ah, there.
I just came across this Tracy Rocker story worth sharing.
Tracy Rocker sat in Mark Richt’s office, in the furthest corner of Georgia’s football facility, late last January. Rocker, then with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, was interviewing for the vacant defensive line coach position in Athens, and he knew little about Richt. Namely, that the Georgia head coach, for all his stoicism, keeps a running monologue wherever he goes.
So, when Richt paused during the interview, suddenly deep in thought, and said, “Tracy Rocker…didn’t you coach Nick Fairley?”
Rocker shifted in his chair. He had, in fact, coached the dominant (and controversial) defensive tackle at Auburn in 2010. When Georgia visited Jordan-Hare Stadium that year, Fairley drew several personal fouls for spearing redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray. Former Auburn assistant Trooper Taylor had to drag Fairley off the field in the fourth quarter.
“Yeah, I didn’t like that too much,” Richt continued.
Still, it didn’t keep him from getting the job.
Talk about your awkward interviews.
How did Richt feel about Roquan’s decision to not sign an NLI?
“Well, hmmm …” Richt told the AJC on Friday, before pausing for a few seconds.
The UGA coach then deliberated on that question for a little longer.
“I guess it’s new,” Richt said. “But the main thing was that I was happy he signed his scholarship with Georgia.”
Does Richt think Roquan will be a trendsetter for elite prospects in the future?
“Um, I don’t know … It remains to be seen,” he said. This time, it was me who paused for a few seconds to see if he would expand on his answer. Richt didn’t.
He knows. But he ain’t sayin’.