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Backstories Of The Draft

It’s Our Monday Blog, so let’s dive right in!

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Over the weekend, I spent some time watching the NFL draft. The draft might not be that exciting to you, but there were some interesting side stories.

When I turned the draft on at the very beginning, I saw several former Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks walking out with the Commissioner. Because the draft took place in Dallas, this immediately should have evoked cheers because of all Dallas fans.

In theory, it was a great idea because the NFL was probably trying to run a good defense for Commissioner Goodell. But, fans so dislike Goodell that even greats from the past could not run positive interference for him. But, it was a classic public relations move.

The NFL is known to try for public relations moves to make us forget that it’s all big business. They would prefer that we not remember all those past players still suffering from head injuries.

For instance, Ryan Shazier walked to the podium to announce the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first pick. Four years ago he had been a first round pick. Near the end of last season, he suffered a spinal injury during a game that was so serious that it was questionable whether he would be paralyzed for life.

Now, we are celebrating his ability to walk, even though it is with incredible effort on his part. Maybe the best way that the NFL can give recognition to him is not to parade him across a stage. Instead, to make sure that all is done to make sure it never happens to another player.

Draftee Shaquem Griffin was placed in the draft room. The player area usually reserved for players to be drafted in the first round. There is no way that the NFL expected that. But with Griffin there, they could continually show him to TV viewers.

We were constantly reminded that he only had one hand as a result of a birth defect. Yet, his story served as an inspiration to overcoming adversity… while he sat there until being drafted in the fifth round. He was the 141st player to be taken.

During the draft, television viewers were also sent to the “draft war rooms” of several teams. It showed the team of people determining the player to be picked. It also showed the importance of all the preparation done before the draft. Their big “draft boards” gave structure to who they would pick next, if available. It doesn’t just happen.

One final thought is on how the draft started in the first place. It stems from the theory that “it’s not fair”.

During the 1930’s, Philadelphia team owner, Bert Bell, was tired of his team continually losing. He pitched the other owners on an idea of spreading the wealth. All ships big and small rise to the top as the tide goes up! The league is only as strong as its weakest link. (I could keep going crazy on metaphors!)

The draft of today was created, using the reverse order of picking in order of finish. Last picks first was born. And so it was in this 2018 draft.

And for pic o’ day:

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More Than A Bell Rung!

How about some motivational thoughts for Our Wednesday Blog?

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I guess it’s better than someone just simply daring us with some attitude…right?

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So let’s get down to business. This blog is about football and brain injury. I immediately get serious!

Jeff Bezos once worked at a hedge fund and was growing increasingly frustrated because he was unable to match the returns of another investor, Bernie Madoff. (Of course we all now know that Madoff’s yearly investment returns were all fake)

Bezos reportedly confided in Ted Leonsis (owner of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals) that his frustration caused him to quit his hedge fund job at D.E. Shaw. He then started a little company called Amazon. The cause and effect.

I compare a brain injury to cause and effect. You can tell if a person has a broken arm because you can physically see their cast. There is no cast for the brain. So, it’s not unusual to miss a brain injury. It’s why they are called  the “walking wounded”. The cause is usually related to trauma but the effect is usually not known until it’s too late.

Years ago, the defense called their head trauma expert to the witness stand in one of our brain injury cases. We had already put our case on and had several treating doctors testify that our client had a brain injury. Now, this defense witness had been identified as a doctor who was going to disagree with all the treating doctors.

He admitted that our client had hit her head. He even admitted that she might have had a concussion. But he went on to say that it was just like a football player who just “had their bell rung, but that didn’t mean that they had to come out of the game”. In essence, his testimony was that our client’s brain injury was no big deal.

The NFL has announced that they are considering a radical rule change. Here is an article explaining that the NFL is poised to eliminate kickoffs. Why? According to a recent study (Here) 16% of football injuries occur during the kickoff, and those injuries have a high probability of concussion related.

It probably will not happen this year. But, it would not surprise me to see no kickoff next year, with the ball starting at the 25-year-line to start the game. I suspect they are still working out the issue of onside kicks because that adds another dimension to the end of the game… and trying to catch up.

All I know, fortunately juries would no longer put up with a hired defense expert saying such nonsense as though a head injury is no big deal when you are wearing a helmet. That’s because the NFL and its former players are putting head injuries in the headlines. Plus, no one is wearing a helmet while they drive. So these injuries are possibly even worse.

And for pic o’ day, I completely agree!

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Justice in the Stadium Basement

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Plus, laughter is good!

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Ok… I know! That is a mean way to start the blog… if you happen to be a Cowboys fan. But it really does tie in to Our Blog today. I promise.

And by the way, the other day I was watching highlights on the NFL Network and heard the voice of Pat Summerall. It made me feel nostalgic. Kinda made me want to go to a store and “Tell them Pat Summerall sent me”.

I am sure there are some who have no idea who Pat Summerall was. Or why I would be wanting to go to a store and say “Tell them Pat Summerall sent me”. I might as well be writing about  meeting family at the airport gate or listening to an eight track tape. And yes, there was something called yellow page advertising. That went out right around the time CDs and cassette tapes were packed in storage. But I digress.

This is really about the Philadelphia Eagles and their old football stadium… and a courthouse in the basement.

Of course, there used to be funny pictures about Eagles fans that no longer apply. The glory of winning.

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But they are still funny. So back to our story about justice at the stadium.

We travel to Philadelphia, when they played at Vet stadium. As “legend goes”, Eagles fans were already known for getting out of hand. These were the same fans who had booed Santa Claus and bombarded him with snowballs in 1968. (Here) Of course, they are also the same fans who obviously thought that being excited about winning the Super Bowl meant that it was ok to overturn cars and set fires in the middle of the street. I have never felt like celebrating like that, but maybe it’s just me.

On a Monday Night Football game against the 49ers in 1998, there were approximately 60 fistfights in the stands. Management and ownership had tried to stop the craziness by stopping beer sales in the 4th quarter and providing more security. Nothing was working. It was time to try something new.

Ownership decided to install a courtroom and jail on the premises, in the basement of the stadium. The fans, even by Philadelphia standards, were getting out of hand. On the opening day of this new “justice in the basement”, 20 fans were “processed”.

The way it worked, fans who were breaking the law at the game were taken to Eagles Court to see a judge immediately. They were usually caught in the act of some kind of drunkenness fighting, and basically forced to a guilty plea that led to a fine, somewhere between $150-$300 and/or community service.

More serious crimes would lead to serious criminal charges and court dates. Because it was considered a real court with real justice and law, those who wished to plead not guilty or request a lawyer would also be assigned a court date at the courthouse.

As the story goes, the very first person brought before the judge because of drunkenness in public, went through the process of a hearing/trial. After the judge heard the evidence of the conduct, he asked the man if he had anything to say before he would render his finding and possible sentencing.

The man was clearly drunk and reportedly rocking back and forth. There was even a question about whether he would remember this hearing the next day.

But, he obviously heard the judge. He paused momentarily before answering. The judge asked again, “Sir? Is there anything you would like me to consider or something you want to say?”. The man leaned forward and all of a sudden blurted out, “Troy Aikman is a fa**ot“”. Of course, he said it without stars!

And that started “justice” at the stadium. No word on whether a judge, who was probably an Eagles fan, was influenced by the verbal attack on the Cowboys quarterback.

And finally, for pic o’ day, I am staying with the football theme. This was posted Zach Schwartz. He noticed that a Red Robin cake somehow looks like the coach, Rob Ryan:

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Standing During the National Anthem

I am just going to start with one of those before-and-after pictures:

 

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I just wanted to insert that first picture, because I keep seeing “human” pictures like that on Facebook; and a dog picture really makes me smile.

Which leads me on to a more serious topic for the blog. What do you think about players not standing for the National Anthem? With the NFL season starting tonight, I am sure that we will see someone this weekend who decides not to stand. Honestly, it gets me kind of riled up. But I know there are those who disagree.

On that topic, here is what the Kansas City Chiefs owner has advised his organization:

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Now what do you think of that?

You won’t see this as an issue in the NBA. When the most recent collective bargaining agreement was entered into between the owners and the NBA players, it became a contract issue that all the players would stand for the National Anthem. So, not an issue in the NBA.

I suspect that during the next NFL negotiation, that this will become part of the negotiation. No longer a first amendment issue. Instead, a contract issue. However, it is worth noting some case law on the question of whether someone has the right not to stand.

Let’s turn to something similar. A failure to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. In West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), the Supreme Court ruled that requiring students to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

In public schools, the Supreme Court said that you could not make students stand. In the NFL, there is no rule requiring players to stand for the National Anthem. On the flip side, no one has said that employment law requires an owner to employ a player who will not stand. So, while the NFL has not come out with an official position, something like a statement from an owner like the Chiefs owner will have the following consequence… I bet no one sits during the Chiefs game.  What do you think?

And for pic o’ day, life is about being there for your friends. Right?

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No More Chopping Wood

I admit that my motivation level is a bit down with rain and snow seemingly hovering. What is going on? Which brings me to the story of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, and their poor attempt at motivation.

In 2003, rookie coach Jack Del Rio (now current coach of the Oakland Raiders) decided to motivate his players by placing a stump of oak and an ax in the middle of their locker room. He wanted to emphasize the importance of just continuing to stay at it and “keep choppin’ wood”.

On October 9 of that year, punter Chis Hanson decided to get all fired up in the locker room. He grabbed the ax, looked at his teammates as if to say “I’m choppin’ wood too”, and then swung the ax at the stump. It bounced off the wood and hit him in the foot. Not a good place for a punter! The injury was to his non-kicking foot but it was serious enough that he did not play the rest of the season. There are other ways to be motivated.

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Maybe a better slogan would have been to just “stay in the trenches” and they could have dug a hole and let players sleep there… or something. A good way to sleep fast.

Still, it’s a good thing to be motivated. To want, commit, stay focused… and stay away from the ax in the room!

And for pic o’ day, here’s a textbook editor who was destined to think the right way:

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Bark at the Dog

If you are an NFL football fan, you might have been watching on the third day of last week’s draft.

The fourth-round pick of the  Indianapolis Colts, was Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison.  There was some question about his past conduct, because he had been arrested on July 2013 for barking at a police dog.

Charges were dropped three days later, with officers stating that they had determined that Morrison didn’t bark at the dog out of malice. On the Florida police report it was noted that Morrison’s defense was that he barked because the dog barked first.

Now that’s a defense. Of course, best not roar at a lion…if they roar at you first!

And this pic o’ day reminded me of how good it makes me feel to be told, “you’re having a bad hair day”. That’s a compliment when you are follically challenged! (Of course, I promise you will never say I look good in a tank top. Not part of the wardrobe! Some things I can control)

 

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Brain Injury in Football

Yesterday while watching an NFL game, I saw a referee stop play and make a offensive lineman leave the game. The official believed that the lineman had taken a hit to the head; so he was escorted to the sideline for a concussion screening.

Last week in another game, I saw a player get hit in the head during a tackle. He got up slowly and the game announcers noted that doctors were escorting him to the sideline. They went on to explain that an independent doctor unrelated to the team would assess the player for concussion symptoms, and make a determination whether he could go back in the game.

Both of these events are new to the NFL. With attention being given to head injuries, a blow to the head is no longer just “getting your bell rung”.

A Hollywood film titled Concussion starring Will Smith, follows the true story of Bennet Omalu. In 2005 he  shocked the football world and especially the NFL by reporting his study in the journal Neurosurgery that detailed his discovery of the disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). He based his findings on what he had found while reviewing a scan of the brain of former Pittsburgh Steeler center Mike Webster. The article is aptly title “The Autopsy That Changed Football”  

This clinical pathologist thought that the NFL would be receptive to his findings. Instead, he says that he was made to feel “like he was practicing Voodoo”.

A recent study of 87 of the 91 brains of former NFL players tested by researchers with the Department of Veteran Affairs and Boston University, showed that they tested positive for that same disease that had been found in Mike Webster’s brain: chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE),  In other words, 95.6 percent of former NFL players who had passed away had brains damage that proved that they had been suffering from a disease that has been linked to dementia, depression and even the suicides of several Hall of Fame players.

For years, the NFL fought to disassociate itself from accepting that there is a relationship of football trauma to brain injuries. In fact, the NFL formed a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee  to issue an opinion that no NFL player had experienced chronic brain damage from repeat concussions. And in that same Frontline documentary mentioned above, the committee stated that “Professional Players do not sustain frequent repetitive blows to the brain on a regular basis”.

That committee was disbanded in 2008. Fortunately, even the general public knows better. Now, the focus is on safety and recovery. However, I still think that the NFL does not necessarily accept responsibility.

 

And for pic o’ day, a bit of customer service:

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Courtroom Sketches

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The person credited with that saying is Margaret Wolfe, who wrote many books under the pseudonym of The Duchess.

Of course,  one person’s trash is another man’s treasure. Yes, I could keep going with this nonsense because one man’s fault is another man’s lesson. See, it can get crazy.

Speaking of crazy and an opinion of appearance, the Internet laughed out loud yesterday when courtroom sketches of Tom Brady hit the public. Here are the sketches from the courtroom artist:

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Do you think the Brady family will hire her for some family sketches for the home? I also got a good laugh from USA Today, who compiled some of the best memes from this artist’s rendition from the Courtroom.

 

Here’s one of the funniest:

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Sometimes the news is its own blog!

Expert Testimony

I missed the blog yesterday because we couldn’t get the platform to work. To work isn’t really the technical reason but that’s why we had to bring in the computer experts to fix it.

Most of our cases involve hiring experts to testify about the facts or medical treatment in the case. The legal definition of an expert is basically someone who has more knowledge or training on a specific topic than the average person. It doesn’t take a tremendous amount of “expertise” to be qualified as an expert.

In a recent case, we hired an engineer to give us an opinion about a piece of equipment. In discussing his expertise, we learned that he and his group had recently been experts in a football case.

That piqued my interest. Couldn’t help but ask about the case. Then I learned from one of our attorneys in the office that this expert had also been involved in “Deflate-gate”. He and his group had been retained by NFL quarterback Tom Brady’s defense team, to give an opinion regarding whether those footballs in the AFC Championship game could naturally have lost pressure.

After I heard that, it caused me to recall the words of one juror who said to me after one trial a while back, “we didn’t pay much attention to the experts on either side. We listened to the parties and decided the case on their testimony, because we just expected the experts to say what the attorneys wanted”.

If every jury thinks like that, it sure puts evidence into perspective. It also gives confidence that cases should really come down to whether the jury believes the plaintiff or the defendant. Despite what silly tort reformers say, I still think that juries are much smarter than what some people give them credit for knowing.

As a Colts fan, I am amazed if anyone believes that the atmosphere caused the Patriots’ footballs to deflate… while the Colts remained the same. Come on!

And for pic o’ day, I thought I would go with some workout motivation:

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Michaels for the Rabbit

It was really a contract deal. A football announcer for a cartoon. It’s described in a book written by George Bodenheimer titled Every Town is a Sports Town.

ESPN had acquired the rights to Monday Night Football and wanted to assemble an announcing team. At the time, John Madden and Al Michaels were the announcers. Madden’s contract was up and he decided to join NBC to call Sunday Night Football. Al Michaels wanted to join him and get out of his contract for Monday Night.

ESPN tells it this way: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was created in 1927 by Walt Disney for Charles B. Mintz, and distributed by Universal Studios. Disney directed 26 Oswald cartoons before a budget dispute with Mintz forced Disney to leave and create his own studio. Mintz, however, owned the rights to Oswald, and kept the character.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was Walt Disney’s initial character that ultimately led to the idea of Mickey Mouse. He had lost the rights to the character when he formed his own studio. Oswald does look a bit like Mickey Mouse, who Disney used as his primary character for his new studio.  As a side note, Mintz was the creator of another character … Woody Woodpecker.

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That’s why Disney, who owned ABC, still put a value on Oswald as a precursor to Mickey Mouse even though  “he” had no commercial value. It was Disney’s and ABC’s pure historical sentimental value.

Without getting into too many crazy details, when Michaels wanted out of his ABC contract to go work with Madden; on February 9, 2006, NBC confirmed that Michaels would be joining Madden at the network to broadcast football on Sunday nights.

In return, Disney received  the rights to Owald. So, for some other programming considerations and a cartoon, Michaels was allowed out of his Monday Night broadcasting contract with ABC. To this day, he remains  a broadcaster on Sunday… and none of us still know about Oswald the Rabbit except for this trade. A cartoon character for an announcer.

And for pic o’ day, here’s another character!

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