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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Heisman

We don't discuss sports much on this blog. But this year we have something unique in the Heisman Trophy race...a defensive player: Nebraska senior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Other defensive players have been nominated before, but to have one win is extremely rare. In fact, it has only happened once since 1935. Only Michigan's Charles Woodson (1997) has that honor.

The Heisman is supposed to go to "the most outstanding player in college football."

Archie Griffin ('74 and '75) won it twice for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Tim Tebow (Florida) and Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) are the only to sophomores to win it.

The vast majority of winners are running backs and quarterbacks. None of whom would have been nearly as good as they were if there wasn't someone like Suh giving them the room to do their jobs. My friend Ken points out that the previous sentence is misleading insofar as it appears that I mistakenly thought Suh is an offensive lineman. What I would have said, had I had more sleep, was that it is defensive players like Suh who give the offense more opportunity to do their jobs.

I don't get to vote in the Heisman. But my vote goes to Suh. What say you Forumpians? There's a poll to the right.


Bob Newland said...

There is a quite disturbing story in a recent "New Yorker" magazine about dementia-inspiring injuries to the head (concussions, mostly) of the sort prevalent in football.

The story went so far as to be parallel examinations of the "sport" of dogfighting and the science regarding the startling occurrence of brain-damage indicators in former (as in dead, so scientists can sample brain tissue) football players' brains as opposed to that in the brains of a more general sampling of the deceased populace.

I'll go dig through the "New Yorker"s I have, and provide a publication date.

I admit to being impressed by the skills and grace, and the violence, one can see on the football field. I am disturbed by the facility with which skillful and graceful people are convinced that it's a good deal to trade a year of fame and money earned on the football field -- if they can even last long enough to make the pros -- for about four years off the tail end of their lives, and being debilitated by varying degrees of dementia for varying numbers of those years .

Michael Sanborn said...

Yeah, Bob. I've avoided sports discussions here because there are so many social arguments against them all.

But they are fun to watch, much in the same way that Romans watched Christians fight the lions...

The same health issues can easily be applied to rodeo, I suspect. Don't you?

There is little doubt in my mind that weekly beatings on the gridiron cause brain damage for some. In rodeo, however, it is my opinion that the participants are brain damaged before they choose climb aboard 1,000 lb + animals that want to kill them.

And then there's Ali getting into a ring with Foreman and Norton and Holmes and Frazier.

And, now it appears from the recent issues with Tiger Woods, that golf is not safe either. If he didn't have brain damage before he cheated on that Swedish model wife, he likely has it now.

Of course, one supposes that anyone who would cheat on someone so physically beautiful, would have to be brain damaged.

Bob Newland said...

The New Yorker: Oct. 19, 2009, "Offensive Play: How different are dogfighting and football?" by Malcolm Gladwell.

The dogs, Gladwell says, do it for their owners/masters/best friends; the masters do it for the love of their animals.

Bob Newland said...

All rodeo events carry heightened risk of certain types of injuries. In the bucking events, especially bareback and bulls, there is a close-to-100% chance of performance-interrupting injury each year.

However, most injuries in rodeo are to bones and tendons. Carpenters have a higher risk of brain injury due to concussions.

According to the scientists in Gladwell's piece, boxers are the only group comparable to football players in the post-mortem brain analyses for dementia-associated indicia.

Who's Tiger Woods?

Thad Wasson said...

Suh all the way. Of course I'm biased towards the Cornhuskers.

After the loss to Texas, I asked my wife is she finds it disturbing that I care so much for a team (Nebraska) I did not play for, I have no family playing for, and I rarely see live.

Her response - you have one day to cry about, then back to the real world.