This report from NFL.com a couple of days ago caught my eye. It’s about a man who was fired from his job for being accused of a crime he didn’t commit…
Lucky Whitehead didn’t do it. One day after the wide receiver was informed he had been cut by the Cowboys for facing misdemeanor petty larceny charges in Virginia, Whitehead’s agent, Dave Rich, announced that police had the wrong guy all along. Rich told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport that all charges against Whitehead have been dropped and his arrest warrant rescinded.
The story reminded me of many years ago when I was negotiating a deal with a radio station that wanted to hire me. They sent me the basic boilerplate contract, which included a clause giving them the right to terminate the contract if I was ever charged with a crime.
I told them I wouldn’t sign it unless that clause was changed. They asked why, and I explained that anyone can accuse someone of a crime at any time, but that shouldn’t be a valid reason for the accused to lose their job. I demanded that, if this was going to be part of the contract at all, it would have to say “convicted” instead of “charged.” Furthermore, I said, “criminal offense” would have to be replaced by “felony offense.” I wasn’t going to have my livelihood yanked out from under me for some petty misdemeanor.
The radio station’s lawyers acquiesced to my demands, and we had a multi-year run with great success for all concerned before we parted ways when I left for another opportunity.
I’m surprised the NFL Players Association doesn’t make team owners change their boilerplate contract in the same way.
Of course, this is the same league that lied to its players for decades about the effects of concussions and the rest of the head-banging that is endemic to the game of football. So the NFL can’t be happy with the results of a new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showing even more connections between the violent hits endured by players and the onset of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). The researchers checked the brains of 111 deceased NFL players, and found that 110 of them had the degenerative brain disorder. And it’s not just the pros who suffer — 87% of all football players at the high school, college, and pro level ended up with some form of CTE.
Among players with severe CTE, 85% had signs of dementia, and 89% had behavioral or mood symptoms, or both. They were also likely to have issues in brain regions associated with depressive symptoms, impulsivity and anxiety. 95% had cognitive symptoms, like issues with memory, executive function and attention.
As more research shows these dangers of playing football, don’t be surprised to see the numbers of parents who allow their kids to strap on a helmet and smash their heads together over the line of scrimmage continue to decrease over the coming decades.
Maybe being fired by the Cowboys for being charged with a crime he didn’t commit will turn out to be a good thing for Lucky Whitehead. Or at least for his brain matter.
Previously on Harris Online…
- My review of Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu in the movie “Concussion” (12/23/15).
- My conversation with Mark Fainaru-Wada about “League Of Denial” (11/13).
- My conversation with Dr. Robert Cantu about “Concussions And Our Kids” (4/28/13).
- My conversation with an attorney for 2 former KC Chiefs players suing the NFL over head trauma (12/8/13).