Playing football without a helmet

The late President Gerald Ford grew up when college football was played with leather helmets, and years later critics snidely sniped that’s how he got to be “soft in the head.”

Then there’s Richard Aaron York III, who on Sunday, August 15, 2022, smashed a car into a concrete barrier in front of the U.S. Capitol building, fired shots into the air, then killed himself.

The next day, his mother blamed it on football (read story here). I’m skeptical. Lots of kids grow up playing football, and get knocked about, but don’t shoot at invisible geese or run for the U.S. Senate as a Republican, lying about everything from degrees they don’t have to how many kids they do have.

Even if an autopsy shows evidence of traumatic brain injury (assuming there’s enough brain left to see), that doesn’t he choked his girlfriend or beat up a co-worker at his roofing job because he played football.

His mother says he took medication for mental illness. That’s fairly persuasive he was mentally off, because that requires a doctor’s prescription, and doctors don’t just write those prescriptions willy-nilly. And physical trauma can explain mental illness or defect; for example, it’s perfectly plausible that Donald Trump’s mother dropped him on his head when he was an infant. But people go nuts for other reasons, too.

There does seem to be a link between head injuries from football and violent behavior. Folks who study that speak of “internalized” and “externalized” rage; and CTE, a “degenerative neurological condition” caused by repetitive head trauma, is extremely common in NFL players (see article here).

But I still believe that some people do shit just because they’re assholes; and while I don’t know about Richard York, I firmly believe Trump, even though he played football at the reform school his parents shipped him to (details here), is one of those.

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