Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category

Romney Sutra: The Numerous Tortured Political Positions of Mitt

October 26, 2012 1 comment

All three presidential debates have taken place. We have seen Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. There are less than two weeks left until Election Day. We should have a very clear sense of what policies the candidates are proposing, the direction they want to take the country – we should have a full measure of each man running for the office of President of the United States.

But we don’t have the full measure of one of the candidates, Mitt Romney. Instead, it is the numerous tortured political positions of Mitt – the Romney Sutra. It is confusion, entitlement, hypocrisy, dishonesty, chaos and deception.

It is amazing that we don’t know Willard Mitt Romney. He has been running for president since mid-way through his term as governor of Massachusetts, probably before. He began to run for Election Day 2012 on February 7, 2008, as he was suspending his 2008 Presidential Campaign.

It is amazing that we don’t know Willard Mitt Romney. He has been running for president since mid-way through his term as governor of Massachusetts, probably before. He began to run for Election Day 2012 on February 7, 2008, as he was suspending his 2008 Presidential Campaign. But as he was running, he was also hiding.

We have tried to vet Mitt Romney. There are the political masochists who watched all or most of the GOP Presidential Debates – all 20 of them. If the debates were challenging for the viewer, imagine what they must have been like for Mitt Romney. From May 5, 2011 to February 22, 2012, Mitt Romney pulled, twisted, turned, and stretched himself into so many different political positions that I wonder if he recognized himself.

In the course of those debates, the only constant was his steady march to the right. Romney struggled to make the GOP believe that he is “severely conservative.” I suppose STAUNCHLY conservative wouldn’t have been enough. Even linguistically, Romney comes across as lacking authenticity and sincerity.

There was no amount of pandering that was too callow. Who can forget Romney pandering to the non-voting trees in Michigan as being just the right height? I know the folks in the South felt an instant kinship to Romney when he started referring to them as “y’all,” and telling them about his breakfast of “cheesy grits.”

During the primaries, there were certain groups who should have paid very close attention to what Mitt Romney said, or equally important – didn’t say. Seniors, women, Latinos, LGBT, public service employees, college students: you should have been listening to the various contradictory positions that Romney took on the issues of importance to you. Blacks, veterans, the poor, the sick and disabled, the middle class with a job, cities, alternative energy (e.g., wind and solar), etc. if you were marginalized or excluded from Mitt Romney’s political discussion, you will be totally excluded from a Romney Administration. You probably won’t even get a binder…

But the pandering couldn’t remove the taint of his previous remarks and his record. Or could it? A senior Romney advisor, Eric Fehrnstrom, told us they would just shake and reset after the primaries, like an Etch-A-Sketch. Six months earlier, they telegraphed the desperate dash to the middle they were going to make in the first presidential debate, but all of us, President Obama included, were still unprepared when it came. But I am certain that the people of Massachusetts were not surprised at all.

The people of Massachusetts should know him best, right? He has lived there since he moved there to attend Harvard Law School and Business School. Bain Capital is headquartered there. Mitt Romney was governor of the state. With that much history in the state, you would think he would be way ahead in the polls in his home state. You would be wrong. According to the Real Clear Politics Average of Polls, President Obama is ahead of Mitt Romney by a staggering 16.3%.

Romney’s current poll results in Massachusetts are analogous to your significant other starting a committed, passionate relationship your sworn enemy.

But for folks who aren’t from the Bay State, we must stop and ask why? The citizens of Massachusetts DID have the chance to vet Mitt Romney. They saw him in action. Was he able to create millions jobs? Did he mystically change the political culture of the capital? Did he turn water into wine? The short answer is no, not so much.

Governor Romney’s Bain Capital years… key evidence for his ability to turn-around failing circumstances – well, we have to take his word for it because many of those businesses either went bankrupt or they are privately held, so we can’t see their books. We certainly haven’t been offered the opportunity to review the books of Bain Capital during the time that Mitt Romney was running the place.

We have only seen two years of tax returns. Why shouldn’t we trust what Mitt Romney has told us about his tax returns? He contorted himself into a convenient shape on this issue once before to help himself when he was running for governor. Once he won, we discovered the information he gave the citizens of Massachusetts about his taxes was false. By his own father’s standards, Mitt Romney has fallen short by his failure to produce multiple years of tax returns, which is sad and ironic since George Romney initiated the practice in 1967.

If you don’t know who Barack Obama is, love him or hate him, then you haven’t been paying attention. He told us more than we needed to know in the two books he wrote and published about himself BEFORE he became president. The President and First Lady continue to do an amazing job of raising well-adjusted, intelligent and poised young ladies in the white-hot glare of the fishbowl of the White House.

But President Obama isn’t running to be Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, the office pursued is President of the United States.

Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, also known as Bill Cosby

The track record President Obama has established in his first term is full of hits, but if we are honest, it has not been an unqualified success. I could take an entire blog just listing accomplishments achieved during the Obama Administration. But here is Pundit On Point Cliff Notes version: Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed; Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created; automobile industry revived; two women, including the first Latina, appointed to the US Supreme Court; after a century of effort, healthcare reform created; end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Iraq War ended; and the man responsible for 9/11, Osama bin Laden, was brought to justice.

There is so much more. Ask the Dream kids, senior citizens, students with federally guaranteed student loans, women who heard Barack Obama state “rape is rape,” and the LGBT community who heard our president say he supported marriage equality.

There is more work to be done on the economy. No one is saying otherwise. But President Obama has been steady. In fact, it has been this type of even-keeled leadership that has provoked endorsements from conservative and careful sources, such as the Salt Lake Tribune and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Governor Romney has tried to strike all of the poses, but he has only succeeded at looking entitled and cheerlessly ambitious, while leaving us questioning his motives and sincerity. Pro-Choice v. Anti-Choice. Varmint Hunter v. Gun Control. Misogynist v. Binder-holder. Neo-Con Hawk v. Peacenik Dove. Severely Conservative v. Moderate. All of this hypocrisy is trapped in one person.

If you are everywhere in your principles, then you will get nowhere. As all of our parents told us, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. We live in a time when the President of the United States must stand for more than their own ambition. Listen to the hint the people of Massachusetts are sending. The Romney Sutra, with its numerous, tortured, political positions of Mitt, will not unite and elevate our nation.

Vote. Engage this republic of ours. It will only get better when we all lift it up towards its highest purpose. Vote.

All Rights Reserved
Kimberly S. Jones 2012


25 Years…A March to Sanity Begins

August 25, 2012 Leave a comment

My father, Steven Jones, shortly before his death.

25 years ago…I think it was yesterday or today, my father lost his battle with cancer. I never remember the date of his death. I remember the date we buried him on Hilton Head Island, August 27th.

I didn’t know it then, but my passion for wellness was born on the day my father died. He was 53 years young when he died. I get my salty mouth, love of jokes and politics, and big, audacious, opinionated nature from him. I miss him every day.

25 years…

His death used to make me sad. Now it makes me angry. I am angry because I view his passing as preventable.

You see, I fully believe that if my father had made different choices, he would still be here. But he didn’t, so he is not. He does not get a second chance, and each day that I wake up, I have the opportunity to live out my life’s purpose. Each day that I write about wellness, I have a chance to encourage someone to choose differently.

I cajole, push, pull, encourage…take a deep breath and do it all over again for the people in my wellness group, March to Sanity™, because I remember.

I remember how my mother struggled with and against my father’s sickness. The creeping sadness that slid into our family as hope was pushed out. The battle my mother waged within herself…faith versus reality. She did it all while being the anchor that kept us all grounded, yet the angel who gave us all wings. I don’t want to know that I could have helped the spouse of anyone avoid what my mother went through, and I didn’t do my very best to prevent it.

I remember how I felt standing over my father’s coffin. The man who was so full of life, even as he knew cancer was eating his life away…who taught me about politics, mental toughness, friendship, baseball…and who loved my mother so sweetly…he was lifeless, still, and grey – dead in that damn box. He would never fuss with me about the phone bill or tell me to listen to my mother or anything ever again because he was gone.

As I stood over him in that damn box, I was mad at him for every cigarette he smoked. I was mad for every day he didn’t exercise and eat properly…for every day that he allowed the stress of his life to eat away at him. Eventually, all of it turned into cancer, and the cancer killed him. So he was in that damn box, not talking to me about the Mets or politics or Bid Whist. I don’t want any child to feel the agony of grief mixed with rage I felt about my dad’s poor choices. Because trust me, if they are old enough, they will feel it.

Here I am 25 years later, and I choose to use the feelings and memories as a catalyst for something productive. The March to Sanity™, a wellness initiative, was born out my desire to make sure that no one would ever have to feel alone in their journey toward a better, healthier life. As we strive to eat better, move more, enrich our emotional and spiritual lives, and build more empowered and informed relationships and interactions with medical professionals, we also have to remember why we are doing this. The March to Sanity™ is about wellness, yes. But the goal of wellness is not just to be healthy so you can admire yourself in the mirror. Wellness is so that you can enjoy your life and the people in it more fully and for a longer period of time.

25 years is a profoundly long period of time. It is a lifetime. My father didn’t live to see me graduate from college, law school or graduate school, get admitted to the NY and CA bars, get engaged twice or get to threaten the two ex-fiancés who broke my heart, see me start a successful legal practice, see me win awards as a businesswoman or writer. He is missing the chance to write comments to each one of my blog posts, which he would have done in a heartbeat.

He is in Heaven kicking himself because he is missing all the good stuff. Don’t miss all the good stuff in the lives of your loved ones.

Choose wellness.

Choose life.

Onward always. Keep going.

Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones

All Rights Reserved

An Open Letter to Speaker Boehner: Big Gavel, But Impotent

July 13, 2012

Dear Speaker Boehner,

You will be in session for 25 more working days before Election Day. Then hopefully, you will officially become lame as  the OUTGOING Speaker in the Lame Duck Session. For those paying attention, you have been lame all along.

When you became Speaker of House, you made great show of taking possession of the gigantic gavel. You know what they say about men who have big tools and don’t know how to use them. What a waste! Yes, Mr. Speaker. Your time as Speaker of the House has been a great big, orange, weepy, ineffective waste. The tragedy of it is two-fold: you follow one of the most effective Speakers in the history of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and your ineptitude comes at a time when the Congress and the country needed a statesperson with political acumen to hold the Speaker’s gavel.

The 112th Congress could be called the Looney Tunes Congress. There are some folks in the House of Representatives who are so comical that they are better placed in a cartoon than in Congress. Joe Walsh, Allen West, and Michelle Bachmann, to name a few, all deserve their own special clown car. Allen West makes ridiculous statements that are throw-backs to a drunken, discredited, red-baiting Congressman who brought a shameful time to America. Yet there are some who take this person seriously. Allen West is one of the best “race hustlers” around, invoking provocative images of slavery to suit his own political agenda. He needs to get off the “plantation” of crazy where he is currently enslaved, and find the freedom of sanity and reality.

Joe Walsh is a dead-beat dad who thinks nothing of denigrating and disrespecting a decorated war hero, who also happens to be a double amputee, to suit his own craven political agenda. By the way, what are Joe Walsh’s legislative achievements while in Congress? What has he done for the people of his district? I doubt it’s very much.

Michelle Bachmann… Where to start or end with her? Her biggest legislative achievement was to guarantee your unthreatened ability to buy incandescent light bulbs. I know that the most important item on your political agenda over the economy, education, the environment and other trivial things is light bulbs. But the rest of America was worrying about other things. You are blessed if the future of light bulbs was keeping you up at night. Her latest stunt was to call the Affordable Care Act the “largest Middle Class tax increase in American History.” Wow, lie much?

Yes, Mr. Speaker, you with your big gavel couldn’t herd these crazy cats into acting in the best interests of America. We have seen it time after time.

But you, Mr. Speaker, have been like Wile E. Coyote to President Obama’s Road Runner. You have allowed the TEA Party extremists to fill your head with legislatively wasteful and politically destructive plots ordered straight from ACME political tricks and schemes. Rather than helping you catch the President, all you have gained for your troubles is the political equivalent of an anvil falling on your head – dismally low approval ratings for Congress, 17.8% according to Real Clear Politics Average of Congressional Job Approval polls through June 18, 2012.

As the TEA Party dropped an anvil on your head, Wile E., I mean, Mr. Speaker, it was also dropping boulders and anvils on groups who expected their elected representatives to look out for their interests. We expected you to bang your gavel to lead, not bang the gavel on our heads. It was the American people who suffered most. As you collected your annual salary of $223, 500, with benefits and pension, American citizens waited for the jobs that would give us salaries, benefits and pensions. Instead, you postured and played politics with our lives. As you took your salary and did nothing for the American people, the gavel laid impotently in your hand.

Instead of efficiently reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”), and expanding the Act so it reaches all victims of violence, the VAWA sits in limbo, a victim of the violence of the political act forced on it, in the same way that all women and members of the LGBT community who have violence forced upon them will be left without adequate recourse if this act isn’t reauthorized. But at the same time, this same Congress was all too happy to push this government to the brink of a government shutdown over an effort to defund Planned Parenthood.

It bears repeating that it is a sad fact that Planned Parenthood is the bogeywoman for abortion, but abortion represents 3% of the services of the services they provide. The rest of the services they provide are for the HEALTH of a woman, e.g., routine screenings such as pap smears and mammograms. By the way, Mr. Speaker, abortions in the first trimester are a legal medical procedure and a matter of CHOICE for the mother and her family. None of that mattered. You were willing to allow your big gavel to lay impotently in your hand as the country careened toward a shut-down. Women suffered during your term as Speaker. We will remember. We will deal with you harshly on Election Day.

The gavel was placed in your hands because the GOP promised to be the party of jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs. Yes, we got a job alright, a con job. Do a Google search for “GOP jobs bill in 112th Congress.” I did. The results are extremely spare, especially for the party that claimed that they were going to be job creators. What happened? You lied to us. This GOP ascension had nothing to do with jobs, and everything to do with power for the sake of power. You wouldn’t even vote on the Jobs plan that the President sent to Congress, not once. No, the goal was never jobs, it was always power.  All I can say is “well played.”  Because that is what you did, you played the American people. Crafty…

But the gavel still lays impotently in your hand. A gavel that you should wield with power, authority and finesse; instead, you are run around by the freshman members of your caucus. How embarrassing. That was especially apparent when you allowed the little boys and girls in the TEA Party Caucus to publicly throw their un-statesmanlike tantrums as the country had an unnecessarily prolonged negotiation about the debt ceiling last summer. The debt ceiling had been raised almost 80 times since 1960, mostly under Republican presidents, as you well know. Yet, you procrastinated like a teenager with a term paper on the debt ceiling issue, which meant that you manufactured a crisis that resulted in the first downgrade of the US credit rating in America history. Not an effective use of your power, if you ask me. Impotence that doesn’t just reflect on you, it affects the rest of us.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, there are 25 days when Congress will be in session before Election Day. You just wasted one of those days on another useless vote to repeal some or all of the Affordable Care Act. And yet again, Wile E. Coyote, the Road Runner stuck his tongue out at you, said, “Beep, Beep!” and sped away…for the 33rd time.

But the big gavel lies impotently in your hand. And America watches and waits because there are problems that still should be solved in the 25 working days, the time before your impotence becomes lame impotence in the Lame Duck Session. The debt ceiling looms on the horizon – AGAIN. In your limited wisdom, the fix put on unemployment and the payroll tax holiday was temporary, so they are expiring. Happily, the Bush Tax Cuts are expiring, but the President and most of America wants you to extend them for those with annual incomes under $250,000. And yes, VAWA is still sitting out there waiting for reconciliation in conference. Adopt the Senate version, and let’s get on with it.

In New York, we say someone is all sizzle and no steak. In Texas, they say someone is all hat and no cattle. You, Mr. Speaker, were all gavel and no power, statesmanship, or gravitas. Impotent. It’s sad, because America deserved better. We needed better. And I think you may have wanted to be bigger than the gavel. It’s sad that the gavel ended up being bigger than you.

Sincerely yours,

Pundit On Point

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Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones

VAGINA CORP: A Rise to Power

Women! We have been going about this all wrong! We have been asking lawmakers to respect our privacy and our right to choose our reproductive fate. We have made it clear that our reproductive health, in the form of annual screenings like mammograms and pelvic exams with pap smears, are extremely important to us. In case there was any doubt about what we meant about “reproductive health,” we told them we were talking about our vaginas. You would think we were talking about Voldermort, because evidently, the vagina is the body part that must not be named.

But the men in state legislatures who were bold enough to create legislation that was obsessed with vaginas were never mature enough or man enough to say the word without devolving to locker room humor and innuendo. But when cloaked in euphemism, like “lady parts,” law makers in Virginia are willing to insert themselves into women’s vaginas by way of an unnecessary medical procedure, which is now required before the legal termination of a pregnancy.

Michigan is even more squeamishly hypocritical. During a recent floor debate on proposed legislation where Michigan legislators where trying to force their way into the vaginas of Michigan women by banning abortion after 20 weeks unless a woman’s life is in danger, State Rep. Lisa Brown bucked the polite, yet stupid, political lexicon

State Rep. Brown’s reward for stating the obvious and speaking the outrage that millions of women have been feeling since these laws began springing up across the country… State Representative Lisa Brown of Michigan, a duly elected public official, was “gaveled down” as out of order for failing to recognize the “decorum” of the House of Representatives of Michigan. Her punishment? The men of the House of Representatives of Michigan silenced her, censored her for the debate of a bill on school employees’ retirement, which is a hot button issue in every state.

In a political climate where a member of the US Congress yells “You Lie” at the President of the United States during the State of the Union address, or 14 members of the GOP allegedly plot the downfall of the 44th president as he dances at his Inaugural Ball, or a minority of the majority party are willing to hold the entire government and economy hostage… I have a hard time with anyone trying to offer lectures about decorum for the use of the anatomically correct term for the body part in question.

Women, here is how we change the game. We incorporate our vaginas! As “lady-parts,” they are powerless. As Vagina Corp., they can rule the world. America is less of a republic or democracy, and more of a corporatocracy. We can thank Mittens Romney for the idea. After all, it was Mittens who told us, “Corporations are people, my friend.” As corporations, Vaginas would be able to enter into contracts, own property, incorporate other corporations and limited liability companies, sue, be sued… Vaginas could be like Mitt Romney but with more compassion and empathy.

Vaginas are already the birthplace of all human power in a purely factual sense. What I am proposing is a way to ensure that vaginas keep a measure of power and control, and not become victims of men who forget where they literally came from.

I am still trying to figure out if Vagina Corp. should be seemingly innocent corporate citizen, or if it would be an activist corporation like those who were members of ALEC or the Financial Services Roundtable. If Vagina Corp. is going to rise to power, it would have to interact with power, just like the Bank of America, WalMart or Halliburton does.

Vagina Corp. would have First Amendment rights. So there wouldn’t be any whispers about vagina anymore, because Vagina Corp. would be a force to be reckoned with. The key First Amendment right to be exercised would be the right to political speech, of course. One of the first items of the Vagina Corp. agenda would be the formation of a Super PAC. All of the politicians who rushed to defile “lady-parts” with legislation requiring intrusive and medically unnecessary procedures would suddenly stop and have much more respect and consideration for Vagina Corp.

Vagina Corp. would be an economic force. Let’s be clear; control over reproduction is an economic issue. Vagina Corp., by harnessing that power, would then become a force in the economy. The Vagina Corp. Super PAC would be able to pressure legislators to create bills that would do simple things like guarantee equal pay for equal work. Vagina Corp. would be able either to provide access to capital, like a venture capitalist, or pressure the financial services industry to remember that they are supposed to circulate money, not just hold it on their “fortress” balance sheets. With more woman-controlled dollars in the economy, woman-owned businesses would flourish more than they already do.  According to the US Census Bureau, women-owned firms accounted for 28.7% of all nonfarm businesses in the United States in 2007.

For anyone who thinks this is a ridiculous idea, I say “not so fast.” After all, America is the country of legal innovation and flexibility when it comes to financial matters. America came up with the junk bond, the sub-prime mortgage-backed security, and collateralized debt obligations… If we can make people believe those legal and economic fictions are profitable, despite their extremely dangerous and risky realities, then incorporating vaginas is child’s play.

The only reason not to incorporate vaginas would be the same reason that women’s reproductive health is in danger in the first place…there is an innate recognition of the power of a woman’s vagina. These legislators must believe that the vagina, like Voldermort, possesses a powerful dark magic that must be contained at all costs. And it begins with saying its name…Vagina!

Let’s go to Delaware and make their worst nightmares come true. Let’s create the first Vagina Corp. and begin our rise to power. First order of business… Destroy the little blue pills.




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Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones

All Rights Reserved

Football and Seau: The Head Bangers’ Fall

America had a ball smoking, remember? At one point smoking was cool. In fact, it was the essence of cool. The folks who sold us cigarettes swore that smoking wasn’t harmful. In fact, they went in front of Congress and swore a bunch of lies about the harmful effects of smoking. Reminds me of the National Football League’s approach to head injury…

American has a ball with its head banging pastime, doesn’t it? Football transcends cool. Football isn’t just a sport. For some, from training camp to the Super Bowl, it is their religion. Little boys raised by single mothers are told that Pop Warner football will teach their sons how to be men. Boys, with limited opportunity otherwise, are told that football may be their ticket to fame and fortune. The Head Bangers’ Ball that is professional football is elevated to such heights. But we just saw several young men’s dreams come true during the marathon that is the NFL Draft, complete with cheering, big hugs from the NFL Commission Roger Goodell, and knowledge that a pro team wants him, I guess a young man must feel on top of the world

But if you party hard, you are going to have a hangover. But the hangover from the Head Bangers’ Ball is the Head Bangers’ Fall. And when a professional football player falls after a long career, the results are almost always tragic. We are seeing this with increasing frequency.

It was shocking to hearing that former NFL player Junior Seau was dead, but not entirely surprising. Junior Seau was the most recent death, and probably the most famous NFL player to take his own life in recent memory. Junior Seau was a local San Diego boy made good. But a life time of head banging at high school, USC, where he was outstanding, and a 20-year professional career took a toll. It is interesting to note that Junior was never formally diagnosed with a concussion during his professional career. But that is meaningless. Gary Plummer, a former teammate of Seau’s told the San Jose Mercury News that “Grade 1 [concussion] meant you were seeing stars after a hit…Junior played for 20 years. That’s five concussions a game, easily. How many in his career then? That’s over 1,500 concussions.” 1,500 concussions?

After his retirement in 2010, there was the incident that should have been a red flag the size of the 6’3”, 280+ pound Seau himself. It was reported that he drove his SUV over a cliff in Carlsbad, California after being released from jail for a domestic violence arrest. The police did not find evidence of drugs or alcohol in his system. Seau claimed that he had fallen asleep at the wheel. Rather than err on the side of caution in light of the mounting evidence about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and its symptoms (depression, aggression, tremors, confusion, headaches, and dementia), everyone looked the other way.

We know that Seau died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He took pains to preserve his brain, and the Seau family will allow his brain to be studied by the Boston University Center for Traumatic Encephalopathy, which is independent of the NFL. But the NFL seems to want us to believe that Junior Seau was a man who simply missed the Head Bangers’ Ball.

And if you believe that, I have a pack of wholesome, healthy cigarettes straight out of 1962 I’d like to sell you.

Junior Seau’s suicide is not an isolated event. There have been three other retired NFL players who have committed suicide in the past 18 months: Ray Easterling, Andre Waters, and, more intriguingly, Dave Duerson. All of these deaths are incredibly sad, but Dave Duerson’s death, was analogous to the Marlboro Man dying from lung cancer. In 2007, Dave Duerson testified before a Senate subcommittee that he doubted that cognitive and emotional struggles of former NFL players were related to football. On February 17, 2011, Dave Duerson committed suicide in the same way that Junior Seau did, and asked in his suicide note that the Boston University Center for Traumatic Encephalopathy study his brain. TCE is a degenerative condition that, based on the science gathered thus far, appeared linked to head injury. Over time, the brain has difficulty recovering from the imbalances, which leads to a worsening and debilitating condition. A definitive diagnosis cannot be made until a person is dead and the brain is available for autopsy. TCE is the dark side of the life of these warriors. After a lifetime, the Head Bangers’ Fall into a pit of depression, early onset Alzheimers, or some choose to take their own lives and end the battle “on their own terms.” But what is glaring is the consistent attempts at valor on the part of these Head Banging warriors, which may not be shown by suicide, but is certainly displayed by the donation of their brains to the Boston University Center. The failure of the NFL and the team owners…and yes, of  us as fans is also clear. Everyone must do better before the next Head Banger falls.

There are over 1500 former players currently suing the National Football League. I have heard folks say that they have no sympathy for these guys. (I do) How could they not know the risks of football? (Easy) Plus, aren’t all football players multi-millionaires? (Hardly)

The pressures around football are significant. Players suck it up and to play through pain and injury in order to maintain their place on a roster. Players can’t knowingly assume risks, if they aren’t fully informed what the risks are. Even if the science is incomplete or unconvincing, the science is fairly compelling to me, give the players the worst case scenario and the odds, and let them choose. But don’t send players into the Head Bangers’ Ball, tell them to bang harder, and then expect them not to ask questions of the folks who made billions off of the head banging and suffering of others.

Kurt Warner, a Super Bowl MVP, and current NFL analyst stepped outside the NFL group-think on the subject. When asked if he would prefer that his sons NOT play football, Warner answered, “Yes, I would. Can’t make that choice for them if they want to, but there no question in my mind.” The response from others in and around the NFL was swift and negative that Warner was “biting the hand that feeds him.” I think he was looking out for the heads of his sons, and thinking that the Head Bangers’ Ball may be a sucker’s play. The 1500 former players locked in litigation with the NFL wished they had the benefit of the wisdom that Warner is giving his sons.

The money. Please don’t get it twisted. There is so much money in the Head Bangers’ Ball, but not much of it goes to the folks who are actually banging heads. In 2011, the average team was worth $1.04 BILLION per year. For the 2010 season, the average revenues rose by 4% to approximately $261 MILLION, despite the fact that everyone else is experiencing hard times. But the minimum salary for an NFL rookie player for the 2011 was $340 THOUSAND. The minimum salary will factor in the number of years a player has been in the league, but a player can be a 10 year veteran and not make $1M annually, despite the extreme risks involved in playing this sport, now and in the future. The average monthly pension payment to a player is only a few hundred dollars a month, which is woefully inadequate especially in the face of the health challenges many of these men face.

But I keep thinking about cigarettes because the NFL seems to function alot like the tobacco industry where these players are concerned. The tobacco industry knew that they were selling death and cancer to us dressed up as the Marlboro Man, Virginia Slims, Camel Joe, or the poison of your choice. But the mystique of cigarettes got so big and profitable that the facts concerning our health didn’t matter. Folks were getting very, very rich peddling death to the next generation of smokers after cancer killed off an older generation. It was the circle of death in the pursuit of the dollar…the human cost and truth be damned.

The Head Banger’s Ball just saw its circle of pain and destruction begin anew. The NFL Draft, the beginning of a new phase of the Head Bangers’ Ball, just took place on April 26th through 28th in New York City. Less than a week later, the Head Banger FALL happened in the worst way for Junior Seau when he took his own life on May 2nd in Oceanside, California. When you listen to his Junior Seau’s mom, you know that Kurt Warner is right to try to keep his sons away from both…the Head Bangers’ Ball, and especially the Head Bangers’ Fall.

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Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones