I was appalled to see the cover of the USA Today last Friday, Dec. 7th, while in the airport. I didn’t even have to read the story, which I eventually did, to know what they were doing: leveraging the timeliness of a horrific tragedy wrapped in our most popular cultural outlet (Pro Football), in order to sell newspapers. I personally thought it was cheap, irresponsible and even desperate. Especially the photo, which had the NFL logo where the “L” was a pistol giving the impression that every NFL player is packing a pistol. Although no one keeps statistics on how many players own guns, this well known news outlet took three or four estimates and manufactured it into a front page story.
I have three clients who were friends and teammates of Belcher. I knew Junior and being in his hometown of San Diego, I knew about the demons that haunted him. There are many more details about the personal makeup of these men besides that they owned a gun and played in the NFL. To say the NFL is to blame for anyone’s death is downright insensitive to those who are still suffering, it’s cheap, lazy and irresponsible journalism, and it’s an opportunistic way to make money for a media company. Shame!Another fast growing on-line news outlet, Bleacher Reports, had a story titled: “BLAME THE NFL, NOT THE GUN, FOR THE ACTIONS OF BELCHER AND PLAYERS LIKE HIM”. The article went on to insinuate the NFL was responsible for the death of Junior Seau and Dave Duerson. Really? Blame the NFL? Sounds like an ambulance-chasing attorney, right? This story, along with countless others are examples of how many media outlets are picking on the NFL, sensationalizing its problems, and trying to villainize its players. If an NFL player, you, my sister, or I want to own a gun for whatever reason it’s a very personal choice, a right, and a freedom. I lived in the state of Texas for seven years; everybody I knew owned a gun. The unfortunate tragedy of Belcher and his girlfriend, Ms. Kasandra Perkins, should not be a story about guns or how many NFL players own and them or why.
Does the NFL have problems? Absolutely it does! For one, concussion research will take years to process and decode as it’s just in its early stages of the science. The NFL may have turned their heads in the past to it, but they have been more proactive, engaged and open about the issue. Don’t forget many players have suffered several concussions in high school and college before ever putting on an NFL helmet. The sport of football and the way it has been taught for decades by its coaches may be the blame for concussions and its side effects. However, there is no hard evidence that concussions sustained while playing in the NFL alone are the blame for the deaths of NFL players and their loved ones. Yes, it could be a contributing factor. However, someday we will hopefully know how it may have contributed to any tragedy. But lets not jump to any conclusions until all the evidence is in. Especially just to grab headlines and readers.
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