- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2014


Imagine if at the Phillip Morris annual stockholders meeting, they paraded around cancer victims who told their stories of facing death?

Or at the Tobacco Expo in Las Vegas, oxygen tank manufacturers touting their latest wares, showing you the newest technology to help you breathe?

Welcome to Super Bowl week, which has become a parade of former players with their tales of destruction, depression and dysfunction resulting from the very game the entire event exists to celebrate.

It’s the Super Bowl, a festival of excess that ends with America’s unofficial national holiday, the game itself.

Will 38-year-old Peyton Manning, fused together by modern medicine, survive the attack of the punishing Seattle defense? Will Richard Sherman be carted off the field as punishment for his arrogance?

Which player will kill himself in 20 years?

The week has become a pilgrimage of players giving testimony about the pain and punishment of football that destroyed their lives.

Quarterback Ray Lucas tells us how he scouted out locations on the George Washington Bridge for him to drive his car off and kill himself. Defensive end Leonard Marshall tours radio row touting the benefits of a company manufacturing spare parts that helped put his damaged body back together again so he could function.

And, oh, by the way, Marshall says he has brain damage and is one of the thousands of former players who sued the NFL for allegedly withholding information that the game would damage his brain.

Yet we will watch Sunday, millions of us, around our television sets, feasting on wings and beer — some, perhaps, who never even played the game pulling a Ray Lucas, scouting out a location for suicide if the last bet of the NFL season fails to recover the life savings they’ve gambled away.

Football — is there a more damaging spectacle of sport?

The concussion lawsuits have become background noise now. The notion that players we watched in Super Bowls past, such as Tony Dorsett, Art Monk, are now suing the NFL — claiming a cover-up took place while watched — is part of the football fabric now, like fantasy leagues and jersey sales.

The fact that a judge was so insulted by the $765 million settlement between the league and thousands of players in a class action lawsuit that she refused to approve it doesn’t even merit as much discussion as Marshawn Lynch’s refusal to talk on media day.

Judge Anita Brody told the NFL in so many words, “Your players may have brain damage, but I don’t. This is a joke. The revenue from one Super Bowl’s advertising and marketing covers this bill.”

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