Posted by: mdegeorge | January 14, 2011

Weekly Diagnosis: January 12

A new year hails the return of the weekly diagnosis. We fell by the wayside a little bit toward the end of 2010, but the diagnosis is back to start 2011 off right with an update on Tony Gwynn, a heartwarming story amazingly undimmed by ESPN, and reports on how fast a quarterback’s head is going.

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A clean bill for Mr. Padre

Lost among the Hall of Fame balloting announcement this week was an update on the status of an undisputed first-ballot honoree, Tony Gwynn. The San Diego celeb came through an eight-week battery of chemotherapy and radiation treatments for a malignant growth in his parotid salivary gland. The 50-year-old was diagnosed with cancer in August after having had a history on benign growths in his salivary glands over the years.

Gwynn, who also suffers from back problems, is expected to resume his duties as the San Diego State head baseball coach in the coming weeks. Despite using a walker to get around at times during his treatment, Gwynn told the San Diego Union-Tribune the he has lost a lot of weight and is quickly regaining his strength. He’s scheduled to make a public experience Saturday with his team at the first annual Stephen Strasburg 5K Walk and Fun Run on the SD State campus.

It’s good to hear that Gwynn, one of the true good guys of the game and the total antithesis of the steroid era juiced-up mentality, has his health returning. I’m also intrigued to see the new, svelte Gwynn, who says he’s lost a “considerable” amount of weight. Maybe we can get a little 80’s throwback look from him? Even if not, it’ll be interesting to see how he looks now that he’s not as big as a stadium.

Sensing the NFL’s concussion problem

The NFL’s main weapon in the concussion arsenal so far has been punitive measures out the wazoo. Now, it looks to add science to the repertoire.

The Washington Post reported Friday on the league’s plan to use accelerometers in players’ helmets to gather data on the kind of impacts absorbed in collisions. The league’s rather rudimentary reckoning to this point has left them in a quandary as to what factors constitute a dangerous hit. The article only briefly touches on what is ostensibly its take-home message of the new diagnostics before devolving into a proprietary debate.

The “how” and “who” of this experiment looks fairly nebulous at this point, as this infographic’s many proprietary labels attests, which is part and parcel of the problem. The story appears ready to give info on the new approaches scientifically, and ends up merely a discussion of which brand is doing what. It’s an example of the NFL’s need to get to work on helmet safety rather than merely trying to get down to business.

The Kid has spoken

The concussion problem in the NHL has managed to stay largely out of the public eye in the fall, despite the number of head injuries remaining more or less constant from last season.

But the profile (and felonious infamy) of those hits had been pretty soundly held in check by new rules aimed at limiting hits to the head and blindside impacts.

That was until the Winter Classic hit by Dave Steckel that blindsided Pittsburgh Penguins star and NHL meal ticket Sidney Crosby, leaving the defending Rocket Richard Trophy winner with a concussion.

Sid the Kid took to the media after sitting out a couple games with post-concussion syndrome, admonishing the league to revise its enforcement of the rules.

“You talk about head shots and dealing with them, and that’s been something that’s been pretty big points of interest with everybody — GMs and players. When I look at those two hits … I mean, we talk about blindside, and that’s a big word — unsuspecting player, there’s no puck there, and direct hit to the head on both of them. If you want to go through the criteria, I think they fit all those.”

You could almost here Gary Bettman’s ears prick up (no pun intended) as Crosby launched his salvo. His injury may leave the Comish without one of the two captains for his new All-Star weekend. And worse, it could permanently hamper the career of one of the NHL’s brightest stars (Bettman’s probably fighting his Eric Lindros flashbacks right about now).

The bottom line is when Sidney Crosby tells you to take notice of anything on this ice, from a seam in the glass to a problem with your slapshot to a league-wide issue, you drop whatever you do to appease him. I’d get going, Mr. Bettman.

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  1. […] week’s Diagnosis featured a plan to improve diagnostics in football collisions using on-board accelerometers in […]


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