U.S. Congressman Fred Upton Announces Broad Congressional Investigation of Concussions in the New Year – NFL Settles Billion Dollar Brain Damage Lawsuit – Florida FHSAA to Address Sub-Concussions and CTE Threat to Children and Youth – Bay District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt Refuses to Let the Concussion Issue Come Before the School Board
By Kevin Earl Wood, Investigative Reporter
Bay Community News
Panama City, Florida
Published December 24, 2015, 11:00 pm cst
As the headline of this story indicates, a lot is happening to address the issue of the threat of repeated concussive and sub-concussive damage to the still-developing brains of children, high school youth, college kids who play football and also professional football players with, or formerly with, the National Football League (NFL), living and deceased.
This story is the second of a continuing series of in-depth investigative stories to be published by Bay Community News building on its first story on brain damage and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, coined CTE, that threatens children and professional football players alike:
Christmas Day Release of “Concussion” Starring Will Smith
Tomorrow, December 25, Christmas Day, superstar Will Smith’s intriguing and enlightening football drama “Concussion” will be released in theaters across the nation. The movie will address a conspiracy involving the NFL to conceal the truth about the threat of brain damage to football players.
Will Smith’s most memorable line in the movie is, “Tell the truth. Tell the truth” while accentuating that the NFL did not “Tell the Truth” to its players just as the tobacco industry hid the dangers of smoking to peddle its hazardous product to adults and children.
Parents of Football Age Children MUST See “Concussion.”
This movie is a must see for all parents, school athletics personnel, school risk management supervisors, and particularly state and federal legislators who after seeing the movie, and studying the extensive medical research, will consider legislation to protect the brains of children under 18 from violent contact sports, particularly football, as they have passed legislation to protect children from smoking, alcohol consumption, underage sex, etc.
It is not unfathomable that in the near future that federal and/or state criminal child endangerment laws will include a parent or other caretaker, including school personnel, allowing children to play violent contact sports when the scientific evidence today shows that the child’s brain is subject to debilitating and life threatening damage in violent contact sports, and particularly the extremely violent sport of football.
“Concussion” Showing in Panama City, Florida
The Carmike Theater on West 23rd Street in Panama City will have its first showing of “Concussion” on Christmas Day at 1:20 PM CST. Advance tickets can be purchased at the theater at the popcorn counter at any time prior to the movie’s release to avoid long lines. This reporter already has his ticket for the first showing.
The Movie “Concussion”
Will Smith plays the part of Nigerian-born Forensic Neuro-Pathologist Bennett Omalu who emigrated to America, the land of the free, and discovered a disabling epidemic brain disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, coined CTE, prevalent in individuals who played football in their youth, during college, or as professionals in the National Football League (NFL).
Doctor Omalu discovered CTE in the brains of NFL football players in his morgue where he worked as a medical examiner doing autopsies and even particularly taking brains to his home and painstakingly slicing, dissecting and staining the brain samples that led to the discovery of CTE in the brains of NFL football players.
As Bay Community News previously reported, the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, found in their “brain bank” that 32 percent (1 in 3) of persons who played violent contact sports in their youth, particularly football, showed evidence of CTE damage when the brains were dissected. Sixty six brains were dissected.
To the contrary, in a study of 198 brains in the “brain bank” of persons who did not have a history of playing contact sports in their youth, none of the 198 brains showed any evidence of CTE.
The movie “Concussion” highlights the extent the NFL went to discredit and threaten Dr. Omalu, played by Will Smith, to cover up the threat of, and debilitating brain damage caused by, CTE.
The multi-billion dollar NFL’s attempted cover-up of CTE and concealment of the dangers from professional football players is compared to the concealment of the health threat and dangers of tobacco and smoking by the billion dollar tobacco industry years ago.
The dangers of smoking for children and adults can be graphically shown in pictures of normal human lungs compared to a diseased and rotting smoker’s lung in children and adults.
Responsible parents will take every measure possible to prevent their children from smoking.
However, will these same parents take every measure possible to prevent their children from having cumulative brain rot due to routine repeated head trauma during football or other violent contact sports?The Boston University, Center for Traumatic Encephalopathy Study, has also illustrated graphically a normal human brain as compared to an advanced CTE “rotting” brain.
The rot in the human brain of football players is caused by an abnormal deposit of a protein known as TAU in striking resemblance as to the destructive and many times cancerous deposits of chemicals and foreign agents from cigarettes and other tobacco products in the human lung.
TAU buildup is an indicator of neuro-degenerative diseases such as CTE that can result in mental disability in later life, early death and even suicide as has been documented in NFL football players as the movie “Concussion” highlights.
U.S. Representative Fred Upton, Republican, Calls for Congressional Investigation Into the Threat of Concussions
The movie “Concussion” and the medical science behind the movie has prompted the Energy and Commerce Committee, United States House of Representatives, to do a Congressional investigation into concussions. Republican Congressman Fred Upton is the chair of the Committee.
In a December 22, 2015, news release Congressman Upton announced, “This problem goes well beyond the battlefield and the gridiron. It’s a matter of public health…”
Specifically Congressman Upton stated in the release:
“We often hear about concussions in the context of service members and athletes, but this problem goes well beyond the battlefield and the gridiron. It’s a matter of public health as these injuries are prevalent in all ages and across the population. Unfortunately, there’s a lot we don’t know about head trauma – how it effects different subsets of the population, the short and long term effects, and other details critical to developing effective diagnostics and treatments.”
The NFL Continues to Face a Billion Dollar Lawsuit Settlement for Failing to Inform Football Players of the Threat of Brain Damage
Bay Community News has had the opportunity to discuss with the legal team litigating the pending billion dollar lawsuit and settlement against the NFL by former, and deceased, NFL football players and their families for hiding the risks of brain damage from these players and families.
Bay Community News has been given information on the class action lawsuit and settlement from a member of the legal team for the players and their families who wants to remain unnamed.
According to the source the class of former football players and family involves approximately 20,000 former NFL football players and surviving families that would be bound to the billion dollar class action settlement unless they “opt out” of the class action and pursue their cases against the NFL on their own.
Only about 150 former players and surviving families have “opted out.” Some have changed their minds and want to again join the class but may be barred by time limitations.
Approximately 100 players and families have objected to the billion dollar settlement but have been overruled by U.S. District Court Judge Anita Jane Brody, Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
About 70 players have appealed the settlement to U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals alleging that settlement does not go far enough. Oral arguments were heard by the appellate court on November 20, 2015. A decision from the 3rd Circuit is expected in early 2016.
Florida FHSAA to Address “Concussions” Versus “Sub-Concussions” in Parental Consent and Release Forms – Bay County District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt Refuses to Let the Issue Come Before the Bay County School Board
Parents who have minor children in the Florida school athletics programs, particularly football, are required to fill out a consent and release form (Form EL3CH) published by the Florida High School Athletics Association that must be used by all schools in Florida by Florida law. The form can be found at:
Section 1006.20(2)(k) of the Florida Statutes mandates:
“The FHSAA shall adopt bylaws or policies that require the parent of a student who is participating in interscholastic athletic competition or who is a candidate for an interscholastic athletic team to sign and return an informed consent that explains the nature and risk of concussion and head injury, including the risk of continuing to play after concussion or head injury, each year before participating in interscholastic athletic competition or engaging in any practice, tryout, workout, or other physical activity associated with the student’s candidacy for an interscholastic athletic team.”
Section 1006.20(2)(k) of the Florida Statutes addresses “concussions”, but it does not address “sub-concussions” to warn parents and children of the risk of “sub-concussions.”
While a child or youth playing football may only suffer one “concussion”, during the course of play over a period of time, he or she may suffer numerous “sub-concussions” in which no symptoms are evident. It is the cumulative effect of these undetected “sub-concussions” that lead to the buildup of the TAU protein in the brain that deteriorates the brain with the end result of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) damage to which parents are currently oblivious.
Bay Community News has petitioned the FHSAA to address in its “concussion subcommittee” and then its next full FHSAA committee meeting to amend Form EL3CH to not only address “concussions” but as well clearly address the hidden threat of “sub-concussions” and the threat of CTE brain deterioration to children in the public schools who are exposed to violent, repeated high-impact, contact sports, particularly football.
Bay County District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt Refuses to Allow the Threat of CTE Brain Damage to Children to Come Before the Bay County School Board.
Bay Community News reached out to Bay County School District Superintendent Bill Husfelt recently to request that the crucial and immediate CTE and sub-concussion threat to child and youth football players be added as an agenda item. Mr. Husfelt adamantly refused to do so and sent this email to Bay Community News and this reporter on December 11, 2015:
I appreciate your concern, however, medical records of students are not public record. With regards to athletes, we go well above and beyond in training our coaches in recognition of all injuries, including concussions – in all sports. We also have doctors and/or trainers attend games, matches, practices.
There is nothing I am taking to the board or placing on the agenda with regards to your request.
During the appropriate time for Public Recognition, Chairman Moss may recognize you to speak as we do any citizen.
Thanks again for your concern.
The School Board will again meet on January 12, 2016 at 1:00 pm cst and Bay Community News will be there to cover the meeting and again request that the Board and Superintendent Husfelt address the hidden dangers of undetectable sub-concussive injuries to children and youth in the public school system.
Lastly, Bill Husfelt and the School Board are planning to pump millions into expanding the Tommy Oliver football stadium and closing off local roads in neighboring communities.
Residents of these communities, and the NAACP, are up in arms opposing closing these roads in their community. Numerous residents, and Bay County NAACP President Dr. Rufus Wood, appeared before the Panama City Commission speaking out against the stadium project.
The Panama City Commission has tabled the matter for further hearing before the Commission at 8:00 am cst on January 12, 2016. These community activists will then appear before the School Board that same day at 1:00 pm cst in opposition to the Tommy Oliver Stadium expansion project.
WMBB TV reported that Mr. Husfelt didn’t care about the neighbors in a December 23, 2015 story entitled, “Panama City residents upset over the possibility of a portion of 13th Street being shut down.”
WMBB reported in the story:
“No one from the school board was able to go on camera for an interview, but Superintendent Bill Husfelt spoke to News 13 and said, they want to close that portion of the street due to safety concerns—seeing a need to keep students safe. He added that it’s not the neighbors they’re worried about but the fact that anyone could drive through the middle of campus and be in contact with the students.“
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