While every fan of the NFL rejoices the end of one of the shortest, yet ugliest eras in the game’s history, there remains the permanent black cloud of concussions and head trauma looming over the league’s head. For former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, the effects of his playing days leave him suffering from early dementia and have forced him to look at the game from a different perspective.
The man under center for those 1986 “Super Bowl Shuffle” Bears says he wishes he would have chosen baseball instead of football. “That was my first love, was baseball, and had I had a scholarship to play baseball, I probably would have played just baseball,” he told FOX affiliate, WFLD-TV. “But football paid for everything, it still does. That Super Bowl XX team is still as popular as it ever was. Until they win again, we’re gonna still make money.”
Jimmy Mac notes the condition does have its frustrating effects of memory loss, but he’s doing all he can to keep his brain active such as reading and attending charity events. Losing one’s memory sucks because it’s the sole trait, ideally, a person can take with them as they get older. Physical appearance fades, health gets more complicated but memories are supposed to represent the flowers to the soul’s garden.
There are plenty of reasons, but trying to reduce head injuries is one thing I’ve never really been anti-Roger Goodell on. The game does need to be safer to an extent. While it is fun to witness big hits, run to Twitter and boast about them, there does have to be some regard for player safety in a game that’s as violent as it is addictive. The sight of grown men running into one another at the velocity of a minor car accident is nothing short of amazing; however, hearing debilitating stories of fan favorites from yesteryear not being able to tie their shoes or check their own mailbox is numbing.
Or in the case of Junior Seau, hearing a player ended his own life because of brain trauma helps put everything in context. The issue reaches as far down to the Pee-Wee level with parents and current players like Bart Scott even questioning whether letting their kids risk head injuries resulting from the sport is even worth the potential heartache.
In any event, McMahon’s situation is one of thousands detailing a problem the league will never truly come to a suitable conclusion on. There’s too many “he said, he said” factors bubbling on the surface. And it’s one of those situations where we realize a group of men gave their body and mind to an art form which in turn took damn near everything from them.
Charge it to the game, literally, I suppose.
Bonus: Outside The Lines did a special on McMahon back in March, which happens to be a 10-minute watch well worth the time.