A few football items for a Thursday, while we try to come up with some more sports that can be played on an aircraft carrier:
1. New concussion study: A must-read here, and it’s not good — scientists studying the autopsied brains of four combat veterans found “evidence of a progressive degenerative brain disorder known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease found in recent years among deceased professional football players who had suffered multiple concussions.” CTE symptoms include memory loss and suicidal thoughts, and the disorder can lead to dementia, according to the report. Researchers have said CTE likely stems from multiple concussions, but according to this report, a single war-zone “blast exposure” could do a similar amount of damage.
Football fans are familiar with the headlines but don’t always make the connection between gridiron injuries and the “invisible wounds” that have drawn the military’s attention throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This study may strengthen that connection and gives yet another reason for military-NFL cooperation in battling brain injuries.
(Off-topic, but not really: The fall youth sports season is approaching — it starts earlier every year. Many military families have players and/or coaches involved, especially in the youth football ranks. Be prepared.)
2. On a positive note: We told you about Air Force Academy safety Scott Thomas’ induction into the College Football Hall of Fame earlier this week. We could bury you in stats and superlatives, but if you want a real look what makes Thomas an all-time great, visit The Air Force Academy Sports Blog over at The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette. Frank Schwab talks to Thomas’ wingman and has posted must-hear audio of the defender-turned-fighter pilot, cool as can be, discussing a developing engine fire. On his F-16. That he’s flying over Iraq. Key quote: “Bummer.”
3. Searching for SEALs: We missed this from a few weeks back — Gidget Fuentes of Navy Times outlined the Navy SEALs’ diversity efforts in a recent story and mentioned that the Navy had partnered with the NFL Regional Combines to help attract candidates of all backgrounds, especially minorities. A quick look at the regional combine website confirms that partnership. According to the report, nearly 100 prospective football players spoke with Navy folks about becoming prospective special operators. Here’s a good look at the regional program, which the league took over last year.