Sports Columnist Aptly Links Central Florida Football Death to New Outrage Over Oregon Rhabdo Outbreak — But Ignores Ted Agu Death at Cal, an Even Better Link

Concussion Inc.’s Inaugural Address
January 19, 2017
P.S. on Central Florida Football Death => Ted Agu Death at Cal => Oregon Rhabdo Outbreak
January 21, 2017

Concussion Inc.’s ebook THE TED AGU PAPERS: A Black Life That Mattered — And the Secret History of a Covered-Up Death in University of California Football is available on Kindle-friendly devices at One hundred percent of royalties are being donated to sickle cell trait research and education.



by Irvin Muchnick

An Orlando Sentinel sports columnist, Mike Bianchi, penned a good piece this week on outrage over death and grave illness in college football offseason conditioning, as directed by unprofessional strength and conditioning coaches. See “UCF professor: ‘Oregon shows we’ve learned nothing from Ereck Plancher,’”

Bianchi’s column, however, has an odd gap: the death of Ted Agu at the University of California-Berkeley in February 2014. The article notes that Ereck Plancher, a carrier of sickle cell trait, died in an exertional sickling attack at the University of Central Florida in 2008, and that several University of Oregon players were hospitalized this week with what could have been near-death cases of rhabdomyolysis (severe muscle breakdown from overexertion).

Agu’s fatal collapse at Cal during equally extreme drills not only is the bridge between the UCF and Oregon incidents. It is also the only exertional sickling death in Division I college football since Plancher’s, and since researchers such as Dr. Randy Eichner and athletic trainer Scott Anderson at the University of Oklahoma focused research on the syndrome and its prevention.

(P.S. 1/21/17, 11:45 a.m. As is often the case, your correspondent, in the previous post, understated the post-Erick Plancher/Central Florida 2008 toll of exertional sickling in Division I college football. Or, as the new president would say, the “carnage.” See

Concussion Inc. has tried unsuccessfully, via emails and a Twitter message, to reach Bianchi to find out whether he simply didn’t know about Agu. This seems unlikely, given that Bianchi was among the Florida journalists who have been in touch with the Plancher family legal team — who then became the Agu family legal team. And not only that — Robbie Jackson, an assistant athletic trainer on duty when Plancher died at UCF, was the lead athletic trainer on duty at Cal when Agu died.

But I suppose a simple oversight is possible.

It’s also possible — though I think even unlikelier — that Bianchi made a conscious decision not to mention Agu for a legitimate editorial reason. If he gets back to us and clarifies, I’ll let you all know.



“Explainer: How ‘Insider’ Access Made San Francisco Chronicle and Berkeley J-School Miss Real Story Behind Death of Cal Football’s Ted Agu,”

Complete headline links to our Ted Agu series:

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick