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The NFL Suicide-Concussion Link That Isn't

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Fascinating story, also.  How many of you...? It's a little test here.  How many of you instinctively now believe...?

When you hear a former or a current (doesn't matter) man who played in the National Football League committed suicide, how many of you now instinctively think it is related to his playing the game?  Raise your hands and be honest.  A lot of you.  It's not your fault.  You've been conditioned.  It's the same way that the wackos from the Center for Science in the Public Interest have got you believing a bunch of nonsense about food.  It's the same way the environmentalist wackos got you believing a bunch of nonsense about climate change.  

Daniel Flynn, who is becoming an expert in all things NFL, decided to track down this notion that football players, because they played football, are committing suicide at a much greater rate, much more rapid rate than the general population.  He tracked it down, and you know he found out that there was a group nobody had ever heard of, and they had a fax machine and they came up with a logo, and they published the claim, and they sent that. They flooded the mainstream media with it. 

One outlet (I don't know who right off the top of my head), picked it up, and that gave it credibility, and other news outlets picked it up, and it became automatically accepted with one press release.  Daniel Flynn writing at Breitbart.com decided to go back to the original claimant, the people who released the original press release and ask them for their evidence.  He found them.  They don't have any evidence.  There isn't any evidence that playing football makes you more susceptible to suicide.  It's a total scam. 

It is a great illustration of how a lot of absolute rotgut folderol ends up being believed by low-information voters -- and maybe not just low-information voters.  It is a classic illustration of how lies and untruth and BS end up as conventional wisdom throughout the Drive-By Media.  The key to it is the original claimant, in order to get the original story picked up, has to somehow satisfy the sensibilities and the bias of somebody in the media.  That's all you have to do. 

So if you understand who it is that's in the news media, and you want to get a fraudulent/bogus claim picked up as reality, then you write a story. You create a study, a fake one that will convince somebody who has preconceived notions about it, and you're off to the races, and that's essentially what Flynn found. 

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Here's Todd in Tampa in addition.  Hi, Todd.  Glad you waited.  Great to have you on the EIB Network.  Hi.

CALLER:  Hey, Rush, you're the man.  I just wanted to tell you a couple things before I hit Obama. But, you know, the National Football League and this settlement thing is just a travesty of all travesties.  I watched Joe Namath get blasted against the Oakland Raiders growing up and no 15-yard penalty, no hundred thousand-dollar fine, none of this. This lady, has she ever stood at the 50 yard line and watched these guys clock each other then run back to the huddle and do it again?  She doesn't know what she's talking about.  This whole settlement is a disgrace to the National Football League, to the American fan who pays the bills around here.  Now, if the players had come to us and said, "Hey, you guys are doing good. We need to help the rest of the guys out that are hurting and need some financial help," then that's what the money should be for. But don't come in here while Ray Lewis and Tim Tebow and everyone else are running over people and tell me that, you know, you guys get money and the other guys don't.  It's a disgrace.

RUSH:  Amen, bro.  Amen.

CALLER:  Hey, Rush, I just wanted to tell you, Obama, I'm sure he didn't go see my man Billy Graham in North Carolina and say, you broke two tenets of the Christian faith --

RUSH:  Wait a minute, wait a minute.  Hit the bleep button.  He can't say that.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  Now, I think Todd was talking about the PhD who said that concussions are not such a problem in the NFL.  Now, maybe not, 'cause he was mad at the judge who said it wasn't enough money.  That's who he's mad at, and he's got a point.  This concussion lawsuit is not happening because of concussions, and most lawsuits don't.  It's happening because it's money, and I'll not even pass judgment on that.  That's standard operating procedure in America. 

I don't want to get into individual criticism of people joining the suit.  I mean, some of these guys don't have any money, and if somebody's gonna come along and give them an excuse for their current lot in life... "Yeah, it's 'cause you played football. Yeah, they didn't tell you. Go hitting guys with your head and your helmet, you're gonna get concussions.  They didn't tell you it's gonna lead to suicide, and they didn't tell you it's gonna lead to not being able to walk.  They didn't tell you it's gonna lead to slobbering all over the place." 

"Oh, really?  Yeah, they didn't tell me! How much am I owed?" 

They had this big sum of money, and it turns out the judge says it isn't enough. It's 4,000-plus players, $765 million. Do the math. It isn't very much even if they divvy it up equally, which they're not gonna do.  Some players are gonna get zip, and some players are gonna get $4 million, I've read, depending.  So the judge came back and said that's not enough money.  The NFL and the players union and everybody else thought they had a deal. 

The judge said (paraphrased), "Well, you did have a deal but I don't like the deal. It's not enough money.  You're not paying nearly enough for the damage that you've caused."  Meanwhile, Daniel Flynn -- and we've interviewed Flynn here at the Limbaugh Letter.  He has become a noted expert on the National Football League and what is happening to it with the cultural pressures, the chickification. Let me just get into this right now.  I was gonna get into some Obamacare stuff, but since I've brought this up... 

Dan Flynn wrote a book called The War on Football: Saving America's Game. That's what we interviewed him for when his book came out last year.  He is the editor at Breitbart Sports, and he said, "Tracing the provenance of the myth that NFL players kill themselves at dramatically elevated rates is a lot like playing the children's game 'operator,' only in reverse."   Now, what this is -- and I referenced this story early on in the program. 

What Flynn does here is trace, go back to the beginning of this myth. How did this assumption start, that playing football is an indicator of suicide and that suicide rates among people who played in the National Football League are much higher than the national average?  This is something that somebody put in the media some time ago, and it's now established.  It's considered "settled science."  Flynn had never seen any data.  He'd seen all the stories, he wanted to find out about it, so he traced it back. 

What we have here is a story that is more proof of how journalism is failing us by being so easily manipulated by people who push a false narrative.  Center for Science in the Public Interest, a bunch of activists. The global warming hoaxers, they created a brilliant hoax that manipulated all the media.  They had 'em believing it was gonna be global cooling and the a new ice age in 1974.

They then manipulated them into believing the end of the world was gonna happen in 2010 because of global warming.  The people at the Center for Science in the Public Interest are just a bunch of emaciated, skeletal people who are not content to live their dull, dryball, boring lives themselves.  They want everybody to live the way they do.  So they set up this Center for Science in the Public Interest.  It's some guy and a woman. 

They've got three or four more people.  They have a fax machine, they have a logo, and they wrote up all of the stuff that's killing people.  They said that the standard, ordinary food groups that the nutritionists and the AMA is using is bogus, it's not true, and they rewrote that and they sent that out. The media started using it without even finding out who these people are.  The key to manipulating the media with a false narrative is coming up with one that you know they're going to want to believe. 

And the easiest way to come up with a narrative that's false, that the media will nevertheless be manipulated by and believe is if it blames conservatives, Republicans, or traditional American values for the problem. It's exactly what's happened to the NFL with regard to concussions.  It's exactly why we've got Obamacare.  It's why we've got Obama!  It's why we've got global warming and now they're trying with this income inequality business, and this is how we end up with low-information voters. 

We send out absolute BS as news, and they end up believing it. 

Here's a pull quote from Flynn's story: "The pattern generally sees one article attribute the claim that an astronomically high number of NFL players commit suicide to another article, which cites another article, which cites still another article. The end of the chain always references a specific organization, which, when contacted by Breitbart Sports, proved incapable of producing a study to buttress the shocking statistic that NFL retirees kill themselves at six times the national average." 

The short version here is that what Flynn found out was there was one article that claimed the suicide rate among NFL players is six times the national average.  That article was picked up by somebody else in the media, and the first article was cited; then the third paper or organization picked it up and cited the first two as authorities, and that chain kept happening. As new news networks, organizations, newspapers picked up the story, they credited the previous articles and bestowed upon them credibility and the chain thus was begun. 

The media was essentially establishing credibility amongst themselves. Nobody, after the original article was published, ever went to the source.  They simply accepted what the first media story about it was, and then they accepted the second media story.  Flynn went back to the source for all of it, and he found that the specific organization which is responsible for this idea that six times the number of NFL players commit suicide as the general population, has no evidence. 

They have not one study. 

They don't have a single statistic.

It was just a bunch of people with doctor and PhD before and after their names that were quoted.  So, again, "The pattern generally sees one article attribute the claim that an astronomically high number of NFL players commit suicide..." Well, in the Center for Science Public Interest case you had one article attribute the claim that coconut oil raised cholesterol levels and led to premature death, so we had to stop using it in movie theater popcorn.

That claim then gets picked up and picked up -- and this is how, by the way, every day, practically (certainly every week), you see a new revelation in health that smoking actually can help with Parkinson's disease, or the next day smoking might give you cancer or that oat bran is the latest health fad. You can remember all these things, and people end up believing them because they're in the media.  So the one article attributes the original claim, the second article comes along citing the first article.

Not the experts in it, but the article itself, and the chain continues.  "Take, for instance, a producer of NFL awards ceremonies who claimed on a blog on December 5, 2012 that 'the suicide rate for men who have played in the NFL is nearly six times the national average,' a post that references New York Times columnist Frank Bruni. In that Times column two days earlier, Bruni, who announced that watching football troubled his 'conscience,' referenced a San Diego Union-Tribune series:

"'The newspaper reported that the suicide rate for men who have played in the NFL is nearly six times the national average.' The San Diego Union-Tribune series, an otherwise outstanding piece of investigative journalism detailing the fall of Junior Seau, dispenses with 'nearly' and reports, 'The suicide rate for NFL players is [just asserts "is"] six times the national average, according to GamesOver.org, a not-for-profit organization that provides transitional resources to benefit retired professional athletes.'

"GamesOver.org, a site started by" a former left tackle for the Green Bay Packers, Ken Ruettgers.  He found he had trouble transitioning to real life when he quit, and a lot of players were having problems with it. So he sets up this organization, and they end up claiming that just out of the blue, folks. There's no statistical documentary evidence for it.  They just end up claiming that the suicide rate for active and retired football players is six times greater than the national average.  So a lot of people picked it up and ran with it, because it fit a template. 

Football's dangerous!

Football's bad!

We shouldn't be playing it!

We're exploiting people for our own entertainment!

All that had begun, and the statistic just fit right in with it. 

Anyway, Flynn tracked it down and found out there's no statistical evidence.  Here's his quote: "More than a week after I first asked, and a decade after journalists began relying on GamesOver.org’s allegation to illustrate the dangers of football, Ruettgers hasn’t produced any source material buttressing GamesOver.org’s much referenced, but unsupported, claim," that six times the number of people that play in the NFL commit suicide as the general population.  There's not one study that's been done.  There's nothing mathematical, scientific, there's no data. 

It was just an assertion that was made, picked up by a bunch of media that wanted it to be true, amplified it on up the chain, and causing, by the way, a whole bunch of people to react to it. Lawsuits and everything resulted from this.  People ended up having to pay big money because of these claims.  There was never any evidence to back it up, according to Daniel Flynn, who looked hard. 

Now, this, ladies and gentlemen, is classic.  This is how all of the lies, just practically everything in the media, this is how it happens. 

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