Historian Matt Chaney’s ‘Football Papers’ Project — Brain Injury Findings Are a Story As Old As the Invention of the Huddle

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by Irvin Muchnick


We reiterate our pointer to Matt Chaney’s time line of basic media coverage of football brain injuries. This material simply blows out of the water the claims of Bennet Omalu, his new foundation, and his movie and minions that chronic traumatic encephalopathy — by any name and with respect to football players, as well as others — is a scientific “eureka!” moment anywhere near the magnitude portrayed.

Where this problem crosses over from mere vanity to the longstanding and continuing legacy of the football industry’s campaign to hoodwink the public and kick the research can down the road, facts matter.

“I suspect ‘punch drunk,’ ‘traumatic encephalopathy,’ ‘dementia pugilistica,’ and ‘chronic traumatic encephalopathy’ are fairly common in court files since the Depression Era,” Chaney says. “Civil complaints and criminal cases involving traumatic brain injury testimony apparently exploded in the early 1900s, from what I’ve seen in papers. Soldier and doctor claims of ‘shell shock,’ etc., blow up after World War I, for example, and the military sounds much like today, and football today, in counter argument or talking points.”

Chaney also has an interesting observation on the “football papers” vis-a-vis the “tobacco papers”:


“I think, because of the football-media complex detailed in critical literature, that historical newspapers  amount to King Football’s storehouse of internal memos. Since football officials shrewdly joined news media for symbiotic audience-building and profiteering in the late 1800s, the price paid by football for that golden mythology or pop glorification has been likewise to have to conduct its policy-making largely in open.

“So whereas you need internal documents of Big Tobacco for a firm trail of its promises, actions, and deceptions, that is not so for King Football. An electronic news search of the last 20 years is exposing everything football has done, essentially. The old barriers of bound indexes and microfilm are falling, and all of us in public had better grasp the fact, for what we say and do.

“And I am once again saddened and angered by youth-school organs and college football in particular, for crimes spanning 130 years. I emphathize with NFL players, because I feel had by the NCAA and general idiots in charge of my own football at the prep level.

“Nothing has changed, fundamentally, for young people today in this mess.”


Again, the link to Chaney’s “1900-1968 Time Line of Football Brain Damage and Policy-Making”: http://fourwallspublishing.com/BlogMChaney/?p=692

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick