Sunday, December 30, 2007

Longevity in Sports and the Toll

I reached my 43rd birthday this last August, 1 week into my 2007 football season. Not as a coach but as a player. Most of the guys I played against in the 1990's are gone. There is only one player in the league that even remembers the 1991 JPFF Spring Tournament who is still playing besides myself.

One might ask, how does one keep playing or better yet, why? and why do I mention myself and those who I played against or with. For starters, I have been blessed enough with the longevity and health with which I continue to play. As to the issues associated with such longevity, I only started thinking about this them when I was feeling bothered by the fact that I was out of the game I loved from 2001 to 2005. It was a game and a sport that I had given my heart and soul to (don't take this bit the wrong way. The man upstairs still has control over my soul). While we play because we love the game, the professionals do not. They are paid entertainers. Notice that I did not say highly paid entertainers, in spite of the fact that many are. Most players do not have the high multi-million dollar contracts. they play for the league minimums or less if they are on the practice squads.

And while there have been several NFL players have been in their forties when they retired, most have been in their twenties and thirties. Unfortunately the toll the older players paid has been great. Reggie white retired at age 42 and was dead at age 43. Lyle Alzado tried to come back at age 41 but was dead at age 42 from brain cancer. There have been others who died in their forties including the great Walter Payton at age 45. Kenny Easly of the Seattle Seahawks had to retire because of a sudden onset of a kidney ailment at the prime of his career. And it does not seem to get any better.

Is their a reason for this and the other debilitating injuries suffered by those who play the game of football or other hard physical sports? One might say that the constant banging would do it, but then how do you explain those who live out their lives to a ripe old age and die of natural causes? And the problems are not limited to Football but are certainly much more in the limelight due to the high profile of football in the U.S..

There could be several explanations for the problems including depression when the player retires, dementia caused by brain damage from the pounding, or even the possibility that the players were more debilitated by the issue of drugs in sport, particularly HGH and Steroids. Also if each hit is the equivalent to a 60 MPH car crash, well, it has been proven that high speed car crashes can take years off a person's life span.

But while we want to blame something, the sports which benefit greatly from the contributions of these players, give little to nothing to the research and care of those players issues. Finally in 2007, in an effort led by the Chicago Bear's great coach of the 1980's, Mike Ditka, there is some money flowing to the care of former players. But this is just a drop in the barrel when it is compared to the billions in profits that the teams and team owner have made from these players.

If more is not done to research why these players from all hard physical sports are having the issues and dying as young as many of them are, we will wind up with hundreds and thousands of these players in the future who will be no better off than the disabled veterans who live on the street. We are only remembering them in the past few years with the aid they need and we need to start taking a more serious approach towards this issue.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Perfection in the world of sports

The title Perfect only comes along every so often so when it happens, you have to savor the moment, and congratulate the group that has accomplished that perfection. And then we come to the NFL.

The 2007 version of the New England Patriots has accomplished what only one other team has done. They have gone through the entire regular season without losing. Of course, the 1972 Miami Dolphins went on to win the Super Bowl. What will this group do has yet to have been seen. Will they go on and will the hallowed Lombardi Trophy or will they falter in their quest to become the ultimate in perfection. Only the next month in time will tell us the answer to this question.

At 16-0, the Patriots have more than become the best of the regular season. They are the only team to win every game since its expansion of teams and games. But did they do it legitimately or was there something in their bag of tricks which was not legal according to the rules of the game?

Who knows for sure, but of course, this season will not be without those will will say that they have been spying on all the other teams. The Spy Gate scandal which started the season off in a negative effect will have lingering words to be written about what really happened. Was it real or was it just a ploy to rowl up people and the rhetoric that surrounds NFL games and teams on a weekly basis.

Who knows but for the sake of the New Englad Patriots, I sincerely hope they do win it all because if they dont, they will become the best team that never won the Super Bowl.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Burger King Returns To japan

I guess I missed the memo or something because I just discovered that Burger King, the company that was nearly bankrupted by their venture in Japan, have once again returned to Japan but in a much smaller capacity.

Their new web site at shows 5 locations instead of the 190 some that they opened back in the 1990's here. The one great thing about them was there actually was a location at my local station but the thing that killed them in the first go around besides over extending themselves was their prices. In a country where the Big Mac is 260 yen, no one is willing to pay 380 yen for a whopper, much less 390 yen for the new version. Prices are everything here and it appears that they just cant get them down.

But now with the smaller operation, hopefully they will last longer than the eight to ten months that they lasted the first time. I know that I will head into Ikebukuro tomorrow to test them out and get my beloved double whopper.