Lefsetz: Handwriting On The Wall For NFL

Is there a connection?

In case you’re unaware of today’s JAMA report, 110 of 111 NFL players were found to have CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Now this is a select group, deceased players whose brains have been donated to Boston University, but if even every other dead player since the study began was found to be clear, that would still mean 9% of NFL players have dementia.

The stories are horrifying.

Even Tyler Sash, who played safety for the Super Bowl winning Giants in 2011, had it.

How long before people stop watching football?

They’ve already stopped playing.

People think everything’s forever.

Like the answering machine; like rock and roll; like baseball. I remember when football was a second-class citizen to baseball, when the latter was truly the “National Pastime.”

Now I’m not saying baseball will disappear, the internet has taught us that everything marginal survives to a point. I will say that the NBA and soccer and e-sports dominate the minds of millennials and younger, and the boomers refuse to accept this.

But the boomers gave up smoking. It’s rare to find a boomer who didn’t used to puff. But they stopped. When they saw it killed.

And these same boomers are racing to electric cars. Which conservative voices keep saying are propped up by subsidies and will never triumph.

Tell that to BMW and Mercedes, German companies who are doubling-down.

And to Volvo, which is going all electric, albeit hybrid, soon. They got the message. Along with self-driving cars.

When are the owners and the public going to get the message about football?

If you believe the values of football franchises are going to continue to rise into the stratosphere, you probably believed that real estate would never collapse in 2008. But at least people need places to live, real estate can come back, whereas football?

The same educated class switching to electric cars has already said they don’t want their kids to play football.

That’s what wrong about today’s society, the belief that the uneducated rule.

They don’t, they might push back, they might need a hand, a leg up, but to appeal to their base interests is to be stuck in a backwater.

Turns out the smart and highly educated triumph.

Which is the main cause of income inequality. Sure, a Tesla is a badge of honor, but it also doesn’t pollute. And if you still say the power has to come from somewhere, you’re right, but the truth is electric motors are much more efficient than gas, and therefore there’s ultimately less pollution.

But I don’t have to convince you. You’re just a couple of years and a couple of changes behind me. You’ll wake up.

So when the news of this story spreads, will people feel comfortable sitting in front of the screen every Sunday? I’ll admit I enjoyed the Super Bowl, but it was the only game I watched last year. Because the NFL is going in the wrong direction in so many ways. Denying the truth as people lose their sensibilities.

I loved Jim McMahon, now he’s a shell of his former self. It makes you wince and you want no part of it.

So, if I were an NFL owner, I’d wait a few months and then sell. You never want to appear desperate. And you don’t want to wait for the high, you’ve got to be willing to leave some money on the table, which is what great investors know.

And I’d invest in sports that appeal to younger generations.

And I’d acknowledge one effect of Trump’s election is the press has doubled down.

Not the online headlines, but the traditional newspapers, mostly the New York Times and the Washington Post. And right wingers can decry these institutions as much as they want, that’s their prerogative. But the truth is the world runs on information. And these outlets with reporters unearth and disseminate that information. Which is why I still read the Wall Street Journal, which is a shell of its former self, despite hating its inane editorial page (did you see Jerry Brown‘s letter in response, whew!) they still cover industries and stories that the Times does not.

Want to win in this world?


TV news is a pale facsimile of print.

Hell, how often does Rachel Maddow quote the WaPo?

And isn’t it interesting that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos saved the WaPo.

The bright and educated are still running the world. Don’t think otherwise.

And if you believe the NFL is on the way up, you’re probably smoking a Marlboro right now.

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26 Responses to Lefsetz: Handwriting On The Wall For NFL

  1. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    Thank God we have Leftysez to tell the unwashed masses how to think, vote, what sports to consume, cars to drive, etc. Jesus, what an arrogant left-wing douchebag. I’ve got news for you Lefty…it’s assholes like you that gave Trump the open door to the Presidency. “We smart people run the world, you less fortunate need to STFU and just follow our lead, regardless of what lifestyle you choose to lead.” People don’t like that attitude/message, and quite frankly it’s dead wrong.

    Oh and until electric cars can run 600 miles on a single charge, and then charge back up in less than 10 minutes, piss off. Americans love to drive and love to drive across country on vacations. They aren’t going to buy electric cars en masse that only go 350 miles at a time and take 8 hours to charge. Not to mention the difficulty in finding charging stations.

  2. CG says:

    Boy sad news but I’m sure its true. However the NFL is the number one fall/winter entertainment on the tube in America, so not so sure what the effect will be if any short term. It always comes down to money. Look Tom Brady and other quarterbacks are smart, educated and aware, but play on and hard…they don’t think it will happen to them. Way it is. I was Len Dawson’s neighbor on the Plaza for years, ran into him at the grocery a few months back, he isn’t the same, course he’s over 80 thats a factor. Bobby Bell was a hard hitter and near 80 as well and seems in good mental and physical shape…so some aren’t effected….

    • Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

      LeftySez knows dick. Football in America is alive and well and will be for decades.

  3. Kerouac says:

    Far-called our navies melt away;
    On dune and headland sinks the fire:
    Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
    Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!

    – Rudyard Kipling

    History be yesterday’s GB Packers fan, today’s NE Patriots and the tomorrow’s Mexico City Banditos. As Rudy foretold, great empires can fall – Rome, Mongol, British – only, NFL hasn’t, no more than baseball & boxing died aft last rites were delivered each.

    “Necessity is the mother of all invention” – Einstein

    “And reinvention” – Kerouac.

    NFL empire may wane, but won’t die – as every other sport in history, the ebb between high & low popularity is fluid. The difference: has never been an sport entity in history commanded as much of America’s interest and $ as NFL.

    True, NFL as sports in general has been dying for decades now; paradox lies in the fact bleeding can continue even aft the patient’s pronounced dead (think ‘Jason Friday the 13th’ and ‘Michael Myers Halloween’.) The psychology of fandom has been studied ad nauseam: ebb & flow considered, findings suggest football’s popularity is not dying; it will likely expire the same day Dems embrace Repubs and Hell freezes over.

    For boomer Kerouac, the thrill is long gone terms sports allure… as much a product of (over)exposure as anything. Yet still has not been relegated irrelevant, even for I. May be atypical: never puffed or jumped on the modern automotive train to include flavor of this moment electric – no cell & no cable too (still a rotary man, answering machine to boot.) This dinosaur still follows sports/NFL, but do so more out of habit than love of, born youth. Soccer, NBA or e-sports ever usurps football in terms popularity (don’t hold your breath), would suffer a similar fate/epiphany in time that baseball & boxing did… a need for adaptation.

    More than semantics, ‘reinvention’ is possible… have said for years the day will come when human beings are replaced by machines the sports venue, and even before that every team in every sport will of necessity make post post season, for reasons related pure economic survival. So in this sense perhaps football will die, if only to be reborn again, apologies the Man from Galilee.

    Upshot: unless the NFL proves it’s no different than any other empire/sport same that ‘fell’ as it were, do not believe it will. Their lesser’s MLB did not die, just as pleas ‘NBA will overtake the NFL’ and ‘here comes soccer’ numbering the last few decades haven’t killed the NFL, nod an main stream media that cries wolf. Those ‘new wave’ examples have had as much impact & made as much inroads America’s sports psyche as climate change fear & solar power conversion the masses has lives/conscience common man.

  4. chuck says:

    NBA numbers are down actually.


    It’s not that conservatives won’t embrace electric cars because conservatives are intrinsically evil, it is because of costs v benefit in the short term. What will sell Electric cars is demand plus economy of scale and reliability, in addition to what GWSWOT mentioned, mitigation of the battery problems. I love electric cars, they are cool as hell, but, right now, for the most part, unaffordable and can be very inconvenient. It’s not actually a political issue it is an economic one. By the way, we will still be burning fossil fuels to power the batteries as I understand it.

    Lefty is right about one thing, the writing is on the wall for the NFL without substantive changes. The NFL is approaching the Jordon unless it addresses the health and ‘thug’ issues which permeate the narrative.

    Lefty’s “Assumptive Sale” mentions the NY Times, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post and the reporters who “unearth and disseminate” information as if the agenda driven, so called “journalism” produced by these scurrilous, sanctimonious, self righteous shills were brought down from a burning bush on the mountain every day for we poor popolo minuto to worship.

    That might be, because he identifies so closely with those, who as GWSWOT has called them, “arrogant left-wing douchebag”s.

    “The bright and the educated (((YOU KNOW!!!! LIKE ME!!!!!! LEFTY!!!!! LOOK AT ME!!!!!! LEFTY!!!!! I KINDA KNOW SOME OF THESE GUYS……..maybe…, a little…))) are still running this world….”

    Jesus, what a sycophantic, ass kissing climber.

    • boom boom says:

      glazer…without that toupee you’d look 90 and those
      things you injested have to have had a horrible effect on your brain (research the effects of drugs on the brain in later life)….so don’t go beating up on
      the icons of kc.

  5. Willingly disregarding a known risk says:

    The collective amnesia in this issue is amazing. I played youth ball in the 80s up to college ball in the late 90s.

    Literally every person who lasted on the team until pads day got The Talk and Form Tackle Day.

    Paraphrased from memory:

    Football is not a contact sport, it is a collision sport. You can sustain a serious and permanent brain or neck injury resulting in your injury or death. You can lower your chance of catastrophic spinal injuries by keeping your head up and not spearing people. A concussion is a serious injury that results in damage to the brain. A proper tackle is when you slide your head to the (front) side of the runner. Making direct contact with the top of your helmet (Now modified to omit “top of”) can result in your ejection, serious injury, or death.

    You then spend the entire rest of practice doing form tackling.

    Literally everyone who has played football knew that you can die of a head injury either instantly or cumulatively. Even before people knew about CTE they knew about “punch drunk” boxers and would joke that hitting people with your head made you stupid.

    Everyone knew.

    The truth is that in Pee-Wee/Pop Warner/Youth Leagues the players simply are not going fast enough nor weigh enough to cause brain injury (although the spinal cord is much more delicate).

    Brain injury becomes more of an issue than spinal injury once you get to HS and people are actually over 200lbs and running a 40 faster than 5.0.

    The NFL should take care of their fallen players. But to claim that they never knew about the risks is just preposterous and not supported by the fact that millions of football players have heard the above speech for decades.

  6. boom boom says:

    lefty…after all these last 4 negative articles you might want to end it all.
    No more rock music…no more media…no more football….no more pu$$y…..for a 70 year old guy….WHAT’S LEFT?

  7. Shawnster says:

    Football IS over, despite what most think. We’ve reached peak football and its all downhill from here. Personally, I don’t care about the CTE issues plaguing the game. The players know the risks and if they still want to play, its their decision and likely their funerals. Football for me solely exists to be bet on. I don’t pretend to care about the players, they are all expendable. There is no way I would let my son play tackle football today knowing what we know. Mine is 17 years old, and we steered him to baseball where he excels. There is no question football still rules the ratings for now. The ratings and participation rates for youths will continue to decline however until the game as it exists now will no longer be recognizable. It has happened before (boxing, horse racing) people and tastes change. Football is not immune.

  8. Rainbow Man says:

    This will affect HS and College more… They can get regulated much faster.

  9. Stomper says:

    As I have mentioned before, I have been active as a coach and board member of the largest youth football league in the metro area since the early 90’s. At one point our tackle numbers for kids from k-8th grade were about 3,000. This year we will be closer to about half that number. Our tackle numbers started dropping the year following the tragic death of Nathan Stiles, the Spring Hill high school player who died following a second concussion when the first concussion was not correctly diagnosed and he returned to play before the initial concussion had healed.

    For the last 5 years our league has partnered with a local hospital and we work closely with their ER and Neurological depts. We maintain a medical staff at our fields for all games and they are called to each field by radio to respond to situations where a player is removed by the official, coach, or parent following a suspected head injury. A concussion protocol is followed and we have the authority to remove a player until he receives a drs. clearance to return. Our players (unless parent refuses) take the ImPact test, a neuro cognitive test that measures a number of neuro cognitive skills prior to the season and then if a head injury is suspected, a follow up ImPact test is administered. Comparison of the scores before and after is the best tool in use right now. Prior to this advancement, it was extremely difficult to correctly diagnose a concussion as MRI’s and other tests were not completely accurate. Plus kids and parents did not recognize the red flags and often are not honest as they wish to get back in the game asap. I wish all youth leagues did focus on correct tackling techniques but some leagues/teams/coaches are better than others. Many leagues do an excellent job in this area but many youth teams are stand alone competitive teams that don’t have the resources to put such an intense focus on safety. USA Football is also a great resource for youth football.

    The issues of spinal injury and concussion are very different. The doctors we work with advise that with regards to concussions, it is the players head hitting the ground and not the collision of helmet to helmet that is much more common as far as causing a concussion at this level. In simplest terms, it is the brain bouncing off the inside of the skull that causes the concussion. Overwhelmingly it is returning to play too soon following the first concussion that kills. The brain can heal with time and following a correct rehab protocol. There are some exciting advances on the near horizon as studies have revealed that the brain releases an enzyme into the blood stream following a strong enough blow to the brain and this enzyme can be detected within 30 minutes or so. Not valid enough yet to be accepted by medical science but medical science is moving in that direction. The game is very different now than it used to be and there is a much larger focus on safety in general and concussion awareness specifically than it ever was before. No doubt it is still a collision sport but we are finally focusing on an issue that never really was in the past. Better equipment, training of players and coaches, practice contact restrictions, and rules now. Hits that used to be praised are now flagged. Helmet design is improving rapidly but there is no such thing as a concussion proof helmet.

    Flag numbers are up substantially but not enough to get back to the total for both sides we once enjoyed. Used to go completely into tackle in the 2nd grade but now parents are holding their child out of tackle and staying in flag until the 4th-5th grade. I agree that the passion for football is strong but youth tackle is under assault. To survive, the sport must do a better job of educating parents about the advancements in protecting their child. Not fair to compare the days when Mike Webster, or even more recent players have been diagnosed with CTE with the youth sport today. Football isn’t dying in my opinion, just on a speedbump as a result of the intense focus on CTE (as it should be). Often the moms are the more competitive and intense parent which one would not expect. Tell us their son can go back in even when the medical staff says no. Kids in youth football are big enough and fast enough to have concussions be an issue. Had a 6th grader that weighed 260, 8th grader at 340.

    Great topic.

  10. Harry Balczak says:

    Dude, Baseball is not a marginal sport. Shouldn’t you know that being from where hundreds of thousands of people went downtown to celebrate a BASEBALL team winning a world championship less than two years ago?

    • admin says:

      Gary Evert’s best bet was a bit under 150,000 (down from ridiculous claims of 800,000 from the mayor), but you’re right; that’s a darn good crowd.

      Trouble is, how many decades did the Royals have to scape bottom before their return to form?

      Still it’s hard to argue that baseball isn’t on the wane.

      “According to this article by Mark Fisher in the Washington Post, Rob Manfred, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, has concerns about the sport’s decreasing appeal to young people. The article points out that MLB viewers are the oldest of any sport, with 50 percent being over the age of 50. And for the first time ever there were no baseball players among ESPN’s 2015 list of favorite athletes. Perhaps most telling, is the fact that over the last 12 years the number of kids participating in Little League Baseball has dropped sharply, causing many towns to resort to multi-city teams and leagues. With the sport losing popularity, it’s no wonder that some Little League teams and high schools are struggling to recruit enough players. Buy why? Why is America’s favorite sport losing ground with American kids?

      “Baseball is too slow for a generation of kids raised on TV and video games.
      As Fisher points out, baseball involves a lot of waiting. Waiting for a turn to bat. Waiting in the outfield for the ball to come your way. Waiting for someone to finally hit the ball or to strike out. Baseball is also a thinking game. In some ways it requires more patience and concentration than football or basketball. There’s less hustle and more calculation. For kids used to instant entertainment and near constant stimulation, baseball can seem boring.”

      • Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

        Pretty sad commentary of the mental makeup of today’s youth, rather than an indictment of baseball as a game.

      • boom boom says:

        Baseball and football are killing themselveswith their continued
        addition of places to watch their sport and not adequately
        measure the audience.
        You can’t measure viewers of games on i phones/tablets/streaming etc. so the viewing numbers become inadequate. Pretty simple that more and more people are turning to alternative (even out of home) viewing of sports and other
        electronic media.
        So all those qoutes about the end of baseball and basketball and baseball are really wrong. The owners see their investments go up in value almost every year.
        Glass got royals for 90 mill…what are they worth now? Plus
        you do not take into thefact that they have anti trust protections which are worth billions.
        Football will eventually haveto pay out for injuries…basketball will cap the salaries so they can make more money but these owners are not stupid people.
        OUr admin or I’ll start calling him our village idiot just qoutes other magazines…nothing original.
        STats show the millenials and young america are changing the
        overall look of america. They’re not buying homes like previous generations…not marrying at young ages….not eating atcasual dining places preferring to cook at home…..few vote…recruiting for military is down…don’t watcha lot of tv instead using alternative media….don’t read newspapers….are concerned about the climate….hate the fighting in politics…and so as the next group to shape this nation there will be changes.
        And those changes absolutely confound the oldsters on kcc like glaze…and lefty…and chuck…..and the village idiots….because technology is now moving so fast and affecting our lives so quickly that all you old seniors just don’t know whatto do. Lefty thinks everything is falling apart…no…it’s just changing. We now communicate online with facebook…buy cars online without ever test driving the vehicle….ordeer delivery from the finest restaurants in our city…have our meals at our doorstep 3 times a day….watch sports in the car (and ratings don’t reflect it) but that’s the changing world.
        Was at a lecture in pittsburgh and if you think things and our activities have changed up til now…just wait 5-10 years.
        Mr. musk says AI is the end of mankind…the top computer scientists say it will change our world more in 5 years than those things we’ve seen over 1000’s of years.
        So lefty and admin don’t worry about baseball or football losing viewers or fans. If chiefs win, there’s 80K at arrowhead. Everything is changing…its just that your brain can’t comprehend how fast things are moving. Admin…stay in Lawrence…its a quiet little town with nothing new happening. Watch kc and how it’s changed in 2 years. The youth of today have nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just change! Either absorb it or die. Not much we can do.

  11. The Word says:

    Herne everything you said about baseball I can say about soccer. Slow moving, boring, a lot of players standing around for a 0-0 game. Mostly used by third world countries because they don’t have money for other athletics. American blacks don’t play it.

    Football. Too violent. Mostly used by blacks or poor whites to get out of the hood. Hispanics don’t play it.

    Basketball. Unless your 6’5 or above don’t count on playing anything after high school. Height requirement leaves out most minorities other then blacks from playing.

  12. chuck says:

    A new survey released by J.D. Power shows that the number-one reason some people watched less sports on TV was protests against the National Anthem.

    The pollster said it asked more than 9,200 people who attended either one football, basketball or hockey game whether they tuned into fewer games and why. Twenty-six percent of those who watched fewer games last season said that national anthem protests, some of which were led by Colin Kaepernick, were the reason.

    After that, 24 percent of those surveyed who said they watched fewer games said they did so either because of the league’s off-the-field image issues with domestic violence or with game delays, including penalties.

    • boom boom says:

      chuck you prove you’re an idiot again. Get hit with a shovel like conway?
      Less people watch the football games because of the anthem? IDIOT!
      Before the season 3/4 of the tv schedule is determined based on previous
      numbers. The viewership of games depends heavily on the matchups.
      Put New england on and you get millions. Put kc on and it drops dramatically. Viewership of games is based on matchups. Put two major market undefeated teams on a monday or sunday nite and the numbers skyrocket. Nothing to do whether you get to see someone sing the anthem or not.
      I’ll agree the game slowed down…..no more half minute huddles…too many replays….too many penalties….it slows down the game. But in reality it’s only really just a few extra minutes (check the stats)…..off the field football is like every other form of entertainment. A guy kneeling during the anthem got more coverage than the super bowl. How stupid!@ Plus 26% don’t give a damn about the anthem before the game…hell….none ofthem even know the lyrics!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Kerouac says:

    While there are players who have stated (after the fact and/or before they died) they might not or would not have played football had they known possible consequences, others are still kicking (and not themselves) for their choice. One is former Oakland Raiders Hall of Fame player Jim Otto, owner of an medical dossier thick as War and Peace is long.

    Otto stated in his book ‘The Pain of Glory’ as well articles over the years he does not have bitter feelings toward the sport, the league or the Raiders & says that he would do it all over again, if he had the chance. That a 1981 NY Times article quotes him as saying “I’ve been classified totally and permanently disabled by 3 doctors chosen by the National Football League, and yet the N.F.L. has not given me my disability” is perhaps the other side the coin.

    36 years later circa 2017, with the findings Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) considered, his sentiments haven’t changed much if at all, his level of incapacitation perhaps the only thing that has. Forget the former Center standing over the ball just before assuming his position; at age 79, standing is impossible for reasons related to his playing career. His 2013 ‘Frontline’ interview for – “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis” (link below), is worth watching:


    Otto describes near death experiences from medical procedures including fighting off 3 life-threatening bouts of infection due complications with his artificial joints. Joints are riddled with arthritis, he has debilitating back and neck problems, and during one six-month stretch, he was without a proper right knee joint because he had to wait for an infection to heal before another artificial knee could be implanted.

    A breathing if no longer walking testament to man’s indomitable spirit, at last count he’s had 74 surgeries and 28 knee operations, 9 during his playing career, suffered a broken nose 20 times, received over 200 facial stitches, multiple joint replacements, every single finger broken at least once (some more), broken ribs, broken ankles, an artificial knee (make that two) and a bad neck; Otto also had his right leg amputated.

    If it wasn’t so sad, would be comical i.e., a Monty Python’s ‘Black Knight’ or Kinison’s ‘my head’s still on my torso’ routine. Yet, Otto says that he has no regrets, and would not change a thing even if given the opportunity to do it over again. What an example –
    or is it an indictment? – of football’s fame and reward… and destruction.

    NFL perspective, why would they kill their billions of dollar$ golden goose as it were? They won’t go shy legalities or finding no players willing to accept the risks (as if they ever would have trouble finding those willing). Approaching a century since the NFL’s inception, here we still and once again, are tying up the cleat$ once more.

    * A new article just out today by former KC Chiefs draftee & well-known sports writer Rick Telander:


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