As readers know, I am disappointed by the response to the concussion crisis of both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government.
President Obama, acting more like a superfan than a statesman, has BCS-busting on the brain to the exclusion of all else. Under his administration, the Centers for Disease Control is funding youth “concussion education” with National Football League money. Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, is the BFF of DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the National Football League Players Association.
The Senate Commerce Committee laid an egg in its concussion hearings last October. Chairman Jay Rockefeller has received campaign donations from fellow West Virginian Dr. Joseph Maroon of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center – consultant for the Pittsburgh Steelers and World Wrestling Entertainment, and an owner-huckster of the ineffective and National Institutes of Health-subsidized “concussion management” software company ImPACT Applications.
The Commerce Committee’s point person on concussions, Tom Udall of New Mexico, seems content with reading The New York Times’ memos scapegoating the Riddell helmet company, and calling it a day.
Rockefeller and Udall’s junior Commerce Committee colleague, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, was elected in 2010 after a hard-fought campaign against Linda McMahon, the co-founder and ex-CEO of WWE. But once in office, Blumenthal – who took dough from the NFL’s “Gridiron Political Action Committee” – has done nothing meaningful about either concussions or even the related issue he had long promoted: independent contractor abuse.
If there is one legislator who has consistently educated the public on the scandalous concussion narrative, it is Congresswoman Linda Sanchez of California. In 2009 hearings of the House Judiciary Committee, Sanchez told Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, that the league’s “slow walk” on traumatic brain injuries resembled the tobacco industry’s dance of denial in an earlier era.
Currently, the Republicans are the majority party in the House of Representatives. Even if Sanchez wanted to press for additional hearings on the House side (and I have no inside information on that question), she is powerless to do so.
Therefore – speaking not as a partisan but strictly as an analyst and advocate on concussions and the bleak future of youth and public high school football – I believe the No. 1 priority this election season is the restoration of Democrat control of the House.