Perhaps you, like me, were left scratching your head as you watched whatever NFL game you were tuned in to on Sunday when one of those “Game Breaks” featured a video clip and report of more strange shenanigans from the Tampa Bay Bucs’ Antonio Brown. Pads, jersey, and helmet off right in the middle of the game, a disgruntled Brown dramatically walked off the field in bold “I QUIT!” fashion. It’s been one of the big stories in the world of NFL Football in the 48 hours since it all went down.
What was your first thought? “Oh, that’s just AB being AB!” Or, did you think it’s something more? For me, my first thought went to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and the growing body of work on CTE coming out of The Concussion Legacy Foundation. If you aren’t already aware, CTE cannot be diagnosed accurately until a posthumous examination of the brain is conducted, which has led to the diagnoses of CTE in more than 315 former NFL players. Erratic behavior, depression, violent outbursts and acts, and in some cases suicide are symptoms of CTE. One has to wonder. . . based on what is now known, could CTE be a factor in the Antonio Brown story? Regardless of the reason, we cannot forget that Antonio Brown is a human being. . . a Divine-image-bearer. . . someone worthy of the utmost care and concern.
I’m a lover of football. But in recent years here at CPYU, we’ve been tracking with the research that’s being done on CTE. As a result, we’re increasingly cautious. From time to time I will give an update on CTE research on our Youth Culture Today 1-minute daily podcast, as we hope to challenge parents to use the science on CTE in their efforts to fulfill their God-given responsibility to raise their children wisely in ways that lead to spiritual and physical growth. We’ve encouraged caution, and we’ve even conducted a long interview with Tyland Maland from the Concussion Legacy Foundation on our Youth Culture Matters podcast (embedded below).
One of the leading voices regarding CTE awareness is Dr. Chris Nowinski, a former Harvard football player who had a short career in professional wrestling and the WWE. Back in 2006, he wrote the book Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis. He now serves as the co-founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. Yesterday, Nowinski posted a compelling article, “On the Question of Antonio Brown and CTE”, on the CLF site. It is worth your time and attention. Nowinski writes. . .
For years, the erratic behavior of NFL All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown has been a cause for concern as many have watched and worried for his mental health. In Sunday’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, Brown had another episode of abnormal public behavior. After a sideline dispute with Bucs coaches, he took off his shoulder pads and jersey, threw his shirt and gloves into the stands, performed jumping jacks for the crowd, and walked off the field. He is no longer a member of the team.
A lot of people are worried and speculating that Antonio Brown is exhibiting signs of CTE. As a CTE researcher and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, I’d like to use this opportunity to educate the public on what we do know about the disease and how it progresses.
Like you, I wonder if Antonio Brown’s behavior is caused by CTE. We can’t know for sure today, because CTE can only be definitively diagnosed after death. However, the recent diagnosis of CTE in two former NFL contemporaries of Brown’s, Vincent Jackson and Phillip Adams, can provide insights into the two separate but related questions we’re trying to answer: does Antonio Brown have CTE and is it causing his destructive behaviors? . . . (continue reading here).