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Web Letter

Thanks for a strong essay. I have often wondered about the role of sports fans at moments like these. What is the appropriate response from football fans who consider themselves progressive? How do they exert leverage for change? I worry that an exclusive focus on the owners and union leaders absolves a broader group from responsibility. No doubt, the industry leaders have reaped fortunes from these injuries and must be held to account. But is violence in football really so hidden from the football-loving public? How do we advance a critique of violence among the fandom? and the sports writers too?

Martha Biondi

Chicago, IL

Dec 1 2009 - 12:54pm

Web Letter

As a member of the retired players community of the NFL, I would like to thank you for this insightful article. I am sure you realize the amount of information that is available if pursued. The image of the wealthy professional athlete rarely applies to the thousands of NFL retired players who ended their careers prior to 1993. It is important to understand that both the NFL and the NFLPA reached an agreement in previous CBAs on how to address the issues of disability as it applies to their players and members. Quite frankly, it fails on so many levels to address in an affective manner the specific medical issues that the NFL player will face once his career is over. The degenerative damage caused by the business, which creates billions of dollars for owners and has made NFLPA leaders wealthy, has been swept under the rug until recently. The NFLPA, under its current structure, allocates hundreds of millions of dollars for additional monetized programs for active players, while underfunding the Pensions of those who built the league. All this is done while in partnership with the NFL in the administration of a disability plan that is grossly substandard.

Unions are not organized to make the men put in leadership wealthy but to serve the needs of its members. The NFLPA was found to have violated its fiduciary responsibility in the class action suit of Herb Adderley. Let's make it clear, the union leadership was caught stealing from it's members--yet as I write this note, there has never been an internal investigation into who was/is responsible for directing this crime. While DeMaurice Smith shouts "One team, one locker room," he has failed to purge from the union leadership, those responsible for the nearly $30 million in damages the courts saw fit to award. Roger Goodell, owners, De Smith and union leaders, the cat is out of the bag. You take men, use them until their bodies are permanently damaged and think you can kick them to the curb. Not anymore...

Tony Davis

Greeley, CO

Nov 26 2009 - 11:46am

Web Letter

Admit there's a problem, appear concerned, and wait for the whole thing to blow over. What else can the monopolists at the NFL do? Actually submit a plan that would reduce the number of head injuries? Wouldn't that take something out of the game? Imagine penalties being called for too much helmet banging. Not another flag!? More likely is that the league is attempting to defund the researchers who convinced coaches to let them put sensors in helmets. There's a genuine case for progressives to condemn the NFL and its special entities, including the major sports media. Instead of trying to find the sport in it and thereby striking a compromise with the depressingly large numbers of fans and uncritical Americans, The Nation should make it clear that the power exerted by the NFL is damaging more than the brains of retired pros. To their credit the Romans, didn't do their killing off-screen.

Paul Abbott

Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Nov 24 2009 - 4:15pm

Web Letter

Mr. Zirin, you failed to mention veteran running back Michael Westbrook, of the Philadelphia Eagles He just suffered his second concussion the weekend before last and may be out indefinitely. He may have even played the last game of his successful career.

John Molina

Chula vista, CA

Nov 24 2009 - 3:56pm

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