Do concussions lead to earlier death?

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An interesting thought found its way into my cranium: Those scientific fellows may know what they’re talking about.

You’ve been reading lately that people who have concussions, especially repeated concussions, when they’re young, as in playing football etc., die earlier than those who don’t.

A recent high school reunion brought this to mind. There were 48 of us in the senior class at good old Lamar County High School. Ten were at the reunion. But that’s not the point here.

Out of the entire class, only three of us who played (or went out for) football are still living…and we were all scrubs. James Pierce and Tommy Rushing were second-stringers and I was third. Nibble on that for a moment.

All of the good players, our stars, are dead. Demps Allen, JuneBug Hughes, Paul Sisson, Olen Adams, Bradley Herron, Ed Cain Dubose and John Strawbridge … all dead.

What’s the significance of this? In practice, certainly, we all had equal opportunities to have a concussion. But these good players played in every game, both ways for most of the game. So, naturally, they would have more concussions.

The reason Paul Sisson was our quarterback was that Olen Adams really got his bell rung, as they say, in the first game. Didn’t know the plays, didn’t know what he was doing out there. And that was not an unusual occurrence. I’ve heard old-time players talk about playing the whole fourth quarter without remembering a thing about it, and so on.

Maybe we’re lucky, we benchwarmers, for not getting out bells rung as ofter as our star buddies. Of course it could be argued, in my case at least, that, if not football, something must have happened.

There was a time when football was considered so dangerous that it was almost outlawed, but some rules were changed and the games were allowed to continue.

Daddy came along during that “too rough” era, which, I suppose, was why he was so totally against my participating in football. He’d hear these old-times talk about how they got this knee busted or that arm broken, etc… with a kind of pride. He thought it was silly…which, I suppose, is why I was determined to give it a try. He was right, in my case. But younger brother Jack, after I had broken ground, was a fine both-ways tackle for two years.

Concussions can happen in many ways, of course. Take the daughter, for  example. She was, oh, six or seven when she was riding her bike down the hill nearby. Another kid ran out, or she hit a rock or something, and she flew through the air and landed  on the asphalt in a way that nearly cut her ear off and left her blind for a while. That was the truly frightening part. But, thanks to good Dr. Sims, who happened to be in his office at just the right time, she recovered nicely.

But, using my class as a scientific study, we have conclusively proved that people who have concussions when they’re young do die earlier.

You know, Tommy, Pierce, maybe we were lucky to be second-and third-stringers.

 

Bob Sanders is a veteran local radio personality, columnist, author and raconteur of note.

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