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Former Seahawk Dave Wyman on football and concussions

Post by Todd Dybas / The News Tribune on Oct. 26, 2013 at 12:23 am with 6 Comments »
October 26, 2013 12:23 am
Dave Wyman takes down Boomer Esiason for a sack in 1993. / AP photo
Dave Wyman takes down Boomer Esiason for a sack in 1993. / AP photo

Had a chance to have a good conversation with former Seahawks, Broncos and Stanford Cardinal linebacker Dave Wyman, who does radio work for 710 ESPN and television work for Q13 Fox’s Seahawks Saturday Night.

Wyman had a lot to say when we talked about head trauma in the NFL, how the league is handling it and his concern about how current reaction could influence future football participation. I’m going to throw a lot of stuff at you today about this, so read what you like. I think it’s an important topic for multiple reasons. There will be a couple more posts today on this subject, including my full story for you non-paywall folks (you know who you are!) and some comments from other Seahawks players that didn’t make it into the story.

Here’s the conversation with Wyman:

“When you’re young, you’re invincible and you don’t think about those kind of things. I think when you get older, you don’t remember how you felt when you were younger. You still hadn’t made it yet. So, you have to make those sacrifices sometimes.

“The whole concussion thing is so unexplored. It’s just so in the early stages. I think there’s a lot of overreaction both on how they’re measuring it and whether or not that’s what’s causing these problems in guys like (former Pittsburgh Steelers center and Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike) Webster or if it’s all these other factors. It’s just such a big subject. So unexplored, so vast and it’s hard to control all the variables.

“I think football is tough game to retire from. You get shut out. You feel shut out. You can’t ever do it again. There’s nothing that you’ll ever do in your life that will closely duplicate that.

“Here’s what my problem with it is: How inconsistently it is regulated. (Colts punter Pat McAfee) that was helmet-to-helmet. He nailed him. I don’t understand why one is and one isn’t. The other thing is I just don’t think those penalties solve the whole concussion problem. There’s just egregious and worse examples happening on the line of scrimmage then there is in that situation. Really, that’s two 200-pound guys colliding. At the line of scrimmage, there are 300-pound guys colliding and I think worse examples of concussions there.

“Just trying to police it out there in those obvious situations … especially that receiver down the seam with the safety hitting him? Don’t throw the ball there.  Quarterbacks used to not do that because that was called throwing a “hospital ball.” Or you’re hanging your receiver out there. You see the safety coming over and you know he’s going to hit the guy.

“To me, it’s silly the way they are regulating it.

“But, it certainly gives me some pause as to what is the future of the game and the big problem really is if people start to get scared away from it. Do they want to take that kind of risk? But, I think identifying what that risk is is important. Because Mike Webster, I played with a guy named Blair Bush who played almost the exact numbers of years (17 to Webster’s 17, actually) and the same position and as many games probably, wasn’t a Pro-Bowl type player, but was a center, and Blair is in his mid- to late-50s now. He’s been married for 25-30 years, is a successful business guy and just had him at a party a little while ago. Perfectly fine. So, how do you explain that?

“It’s definitely in a very shaky stage. It doesn’t surprise me right now. Football is in such a popular stage, it’s become a huge target. You look at all the money involved and all the focus, of course there’s got to be some downside, and that’s really what’s happening right now.”

There seems to be a distinct mistrust of the league from the players when it comes to their intentions about player safety) “There’s some dishonesty there, ‘we care about player safety.’ It’s a business like another other business. There’s no business if you don’t have the money. Somebody who would say they don’t really care about player safety and it’s all a big fake, I would say, grow up. Of course it’s about money. Of course it’s about preserving their business and product, money is a lot about what the players do as well. That part of it is a little bit silly, too. Of course they’re protecting their asset like any company would do. They’ve got a big one right now.

“I do think it’s dishonest for (NFL commissioner Roger) Goodell to say it’s all in the name of player safety. I wish he would just be honest and say it’s all in the name of team revenue or NFL revenue. And not necessarily about the player safety thing.”

It seems like both sides could says, ‘We understand this is how this works,’ the risks, and the millions of dollars involved and choose to do it, which appears what Sherman was trying to say?) “That’s exactly what Sherman was trying to say. I really applaud him for the way he was so sort of grown up and mature about it, because he understands anything in life that … the risk-reward model is there for a reason. If you want to do something that is very safe and doesn’t involve much risk or hard work, then it’s probably not going to pay very well. You can’t ever take away the risk and keep the reward. That’s where I think it’s silly with the NFL trying to take away all the hits, the big hits; that’s what people love. The reason why is because most people aren’t willing to do that, so, that’s what you want to watch. You want to watch other people do that. That part of that is very well. I think Richard fully understands. I know what the risk is, I am taking it, I’m getting well compensated for it and there’s nothing else I would do.

“I remember thinking about that in my second or third year. There were a couple older players saying, ‘You know, you’re going to be hurting later on.’ Sure enough, I think I’ve had 16 knee surgeries. You know, I’ve had five or six concussions, all kinds of other things. I don’t hurt any worse than my brother, who is around my age or other people. But, it bothered me for a long time. I thought about it … I say a long time, maybe two or three weeks I remember thinking about it, yeah, I’m probably hurting my body. Every time I hurt myself, I hurt my finger in college and they told me I’d never bend my finger again, at the time, it was kind of heart-breaking, but I don’t really care. There’s always a price to pay.

“The other thing I would say about football is it’s so under attack because of the popularity and all the focus. But, man, all the good things that come along with it. It’s how I met my wife, it’s why I’m here (in Seattle), it’s everything for me. It got me a scholarship to Stanford, a career, it’s made me lots of money and great opportunities. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. There’s just so much focus on the negative side of it right now, because of all this.”

Leave a comment Comments → 6
  1. The_12TH_Hawk says:

    Todd,
    I will be honest and admit this is my very first comment on this blog. However, I have been an avid reader even while deployed on Active Duty for the past 6 years. I was very concerned with the quality vs quantity of information since you have taken over. I had become so accustomed to Eric Williams’ blog that I really was considering to drop this avenue as my daily reading material. Thankfully my patience has paid off and I have been waiting for you to make this blog your own and not just a copy and paste of player transcripts. Keep it up! I have seen drastic improvements in the quality over the past couple weeks.

  2. Todd Dybas says:

    Hey, 12th.

    First and foremost, let me say thanks for your service. I look forward to a future comment from you saying you’ve come home safe and are done with deployment (if that’s not the case already).

    Second, thanks for sticking around. I’ve had a lot of catching up to do on multiple levels, I’ll spare you the details, but we are starting to get to a better place.

    Hopefully, we’ll continue to have more good things happening as we move forward.

    Thanks.

    – Todd

  3. Todd excellent content, I have enjoyed both watching Wyman as a Hawk in the 80′s and listening to him on radio even though I live in the 509. I thought it was interesting he brought up both Bush and Webster in comparison. I have thought for years that era of Steelers O-lineman abused steroids, many of them experienced demntia and worse later in life. While some of these problems could be due to head trama behavior changes are also caused by steroid abuse. This was not just a Steeler problem but I beleive more league wide. The league was very complicit because of the dollars. Sherman is at least speaking the truth that this is a choice made by the players who go into the profession with there eyes wide open. The league cracking down on players launching helmet first with the intent of “kill shot” should be out of football. But the questionable way they are handing out fines Ie: Chancellors text book hit on Vernon Davis last year, I fear that the result will be shots at the knees that will end careers.

  4. MEhawkfan says:

    I have followed this blog (mostly covertly) since 2004. This is not my first post, but I don’t post often. I like where it seems to be going. Personally, I enjoy reading the transcripts of the player and coach interviews. I find reading preferable to watching the video interviews that are available on sites like seahawks.com. I am rarely able to hear or understand the questions posed to the players during in the videos, so in that regard, the transcripts work for me. Also, I can just skip the topics I am not interested in. That stated, I think the other content that has been introduced, like this interview with Dave Wyman for example, is excellent.

    I had the same thought as Mr. Wyman regarding the hit the Colts kicker put on Trindon Holiday. That hit was blatantly helmet to helmet. McAfee gets a pass because he’s a kicker? Mr. Wyman’s insight regarding the concussion issue seems right on. Thanks for the read.

  5. McAfee’s hit wasn’t a penalty because 1) he didn’t hit with the “crown of the helmet” and 2) because the guy he hit was not considered “defenseless”. Obviously you guys haven’t even read the rules nor read the explanations of fines/no fines on ProFootballTalk.

    Lynch can lead with his helmet in the hole and hit guys–and they can hit the RB the same way. The rule changes govern hitting defenseless players and using the crown of the helmet to spear opponents in the open field.

    But yes, a large bit of hypocrisy; I guess it’s ok for linemen and backs to get brain damage; just not skill position players.

    As the head sticks out, it’s problematic to make and enforce safe tackling rules. This is a subject that will not go away…

  6. MEhawkfan says:

    Yeah, thanks. I’m familiar with the rule. McAfee didn’t leave his feet; Holiday wasn’t defenseless. Still, it appeared to me McAfee hit with the crown of his helmet, and it was to Holiday’s head. I’ve seen similar hits delivered by D-backs that were flagged and fined. The potential for concussion seems the same regardless of the defenseless tag.

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