I blogged a while back when Gay Culverhouse, president of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, decided to make an issue out of brain injury amongst former professional football players.
Now a group of these players’ wives has joined the fight, and one has decided to duke it out in court, as this great New York Times piece explains:
Eleanor Perfetto’s worker’s compensation claim on behalf of her husband, Ralph Wenzel, asserted that his early-onset dementia was an occupational hazard of his seven seasons as a lineman in the N.F.L. Having heard league officials say for years that high rates of dementia in former players either did not exist or could not be ascribed to football, Perfetto, who has a Ph.D. in public health, said she wanted to end all doubt in the courts.
Perfetto, who declared herself “one very pushy broad” while testifying before the House Judiciary Committee last October, is one of six women from diverse backgrounds who have redirected the discussion of brain trauma. They range from players’ family members to a former team president, from a congresswoman to a leading neuropathologist.
“There is a sense of: ‘What is she doing here? She doesn’t belong,’ ” said Representative Linda T. Sanchez, Democrat of California, whose blunt criticism of the N.F.L.’s concussion policies during last fall’s Congressional hearing led to changes in league protocol. “People underestimate you, and it makes you very powerful.
“That’s something that’s afoot here with these women. The N.F.L. is so male and macho and testosterone-dominated, I don’t think they figured that women were going to be a force to be reckoned with in this thing, and they’re finding out the hard way.”
If it takes a “pushy broad” to fight for her husband’s health — and it does even far beyond the N.F.L. — these men are damn lucky to have one on their team.
Here’s an amazing, lengthy feature on this issue, from GQ, by Jeanne Marie Laskas.
For those unfamiliar with traumatic brain injury, or TBI, it’s the signature war wound — invisible yet life-altering — of the Iraq war, as soldiers encounter IEDs and their vehicles, bodies and brains — like nuts inside a shell — are shaken extremely hard.