RUSH: Chris Borland. Grab audio sound bite number 20. We talked about this last week, too. It’s interesting. On the football writers and all the blogs, websites, there’s concern over Chris Borland (as I knew there would be) announcing his resignation from the game after one year. By the way, here we are back to the same thing. Chris Borland said he’s not gonna play the game anymore. He’s read that it could shorten his life by 15 to 20 years, and he’s gonna quit before the game has a chance to cause that kind of damage.
Just last week, a neurosurgeon from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who happens to be the Steelers’ neurosurgeon, Joseph Maroon, went on the NFL Network. Oh, by the way, this guy is being crucified. We had the sound bite last week. He went on the NFL Network, and he said that all of this concern over CTE, the brain injury that is supposedly directly responsible — or is the direct result of playing football, high-contact sports. But it’s only diagnosable in an autopsy.
There’s no way of determining how many people have the disease while they are alive. Now, how convenient is that for the people who want to poke holes in football? They can now talk about a dreaded brain disease that nobody can verify while someone’s alive. They have some cases they’ve been able to determine scarring on the brain is what this is, lesions and other things that they’ve discovered in autopsies. But there’s no way of knowing how widespread it is until after the fact.
You’d have to do an autopsy on every player to get anywhere near accurate percentages, and there hasn’t been an autopsy on nearly every player. Far, far from it. Yet it has become “settled science,” if you will, that CTE is a realistic result of playing football, when nobody knows that. Why it’s become accepted is because the conventional wisdom wanted it to be. So this Maroon guy, the neurosurgeon, went on the NFL Network last week and said (paraphrased), “This has been so overdone. It’s been so exaggerated.
“We don’t know. There is no science behind this yet.” He said, “You have a greater risk of suffering brain injury riding a bike or playing soccer.” Well, you’d have thought somebody nuked a football stadium. The sportswriter community went absolutely bonkers over that. “How can that possibly be? More chance of a brain injury of riding a bicycle or playing soccer? That’s absurd!” So the doctor, a recognized neurosurgeon, was immediately categorized as a doofus idiot, in favor of relying on a belief that cannot possibly be documented.
This has led a young man to retire from the game. You can’t blame him. He’s a product of his environment, and he has read and heard for the last two to three years how the game shortens the life expectancy of players by 15 to 20 years. He’s heard the entire sportswriter community sign onto the theory. He’s heard people after people believe it, express belief in it, what have you. He has seen people who refute this made fun of and mocked. So what choice does he have?
He doesn’t want to live 15 to 20 years less than his life expectancy, so he announces he’s gonna quit the game. I maintain that, in its own universe, Chris Borland’s actions are completely understandable, given what he’s been exposed to, given the people he’s chosen to believe. Now that they’ve actually had somebody make a career choice based on all of this panic journalism, now there’s, “Oh, my God!
“Is this gonna lead to dilution of the power and the playing pool, the talent pool of the NFL? Is this gonna cause a lot of guys to retire? Oh, no! Is this gonna kill the game?” Well, isn’t that what you’ve wanted? I mean, isn’t that the net result of what you’ve been reporting? I mean, if you’re gonna tell everybody playing the game shortens their life 15, 20 years, who in their right mind would keep playing?
So now there are stories of all the players that envy Chris Borland for being able to retire. They can’t because they need the money. They and their families need the money so they need to continue to risk their lives to play the game. Whereas Chris Borland, for some reason, was able to quit. I saw the stories today of all the players that envy him. Not named. The players were not named. That was not the point to name ’em. It was just reporting that all kinds of players wish they could quit.
So the guy quits because he believes what he’s been told, and the sportswriters go, “Oh, no! Oh, no.” What do you expect to happen when you tell the people playing the game that they’re killing themselves? What do you expect to happen when you tell the parents of people playing the game that their kids are killing themselves? What do you expect to happen when you tell the parents of young kids playing the game that you, the parents, are killing your kids by letting them play the game?”
What do you expect to happen? And then a doctor comes along and says, “Hey, we’re overreacting here.” “You doofus!” they call him. Chris Borland cemented his retirment. There were some people didn’t believe him. “He’s not really gonna quit! He’s gonna come back after a year. He’s gonna really miss it.” So he went on Slay the Nation on Sunday. Bob Schieffer said, “You’re giving up millions of dollars, probably, and you’re happy. You’re satisfied with your decision. Any buyer’s remorse, as it were?”
BORLAND: Absolutely not. And, uhh, to play one year, it’s — it’s not a cash grab, as I’ve been accused of. I’m paying back three-fourths of my signing bonus and taking the money I’ve earned. Um, this to me is nothing about health and nothing else. I never played the game for money or attention.
RUSH: So he’s gonna give back about $435,000. He got a four-year signing bonus, he’s played one of the four years, so he’s gonna give back that much. (clapping) He’s being applauded, he really means it. That’s cool. I think that’s responsible thing to do.