September 06, 2012
By MALCOLM RITTER
A study of former NFL players finds they were unusually prone to dying from degenerative brain disease, the latest indication that repeated blows to the head may cause serious trouble later on.
The death rate from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease combined was about three times what one would predict from the general population, researchers reported.
Prior research had suggested football players were unusually prone to those diseases, said lead researcher Everett Lehman of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which is part of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study, reported online Wednesday September 5 in the journal Neurology, looked at death certificates.
It drew on a long-running study of more than 3,400 NFL players with at least five playing seasons in the league between 1959 and 1988. Some 334 had died by the end of 2007, the cutoff for being included in the study. Researchers compared their death rates from various causes to that of a comparable group of American men.
One or another of the three brain diseases was listed as the underlying cause of death in 10 cases, which is about three times the general rate for American men, the researchers reported.
Researchers noted that the study can’t prove that the results were caused by football-related concussions, and that they may not apply to pro or amateur players who’ve played fewer than five years.
In recent years, much of the attention to brain problems in football players has focused on a condition known as CTE, which is traced to repeated head blows. The new study didn’t look for CTE. It’s not among the standard list of conditions the researchers used for classifying deaths, Lehman said.
But some of the brain disease deaths counted in the study may have actually come from misdiagnosed CTE, which stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the researchers noted.
Dr. Robert Cantu, who co-directs a center that studies CTE at Boston University but did not participate in the new study, said the results are “not at all surprising.” He agreed that some of the deaths could be misdiagnosed CTE, noting that the diagnosis requires a special chemical test of the brain after death.
Also on Wednesday, the NFL announced a donation of $30 million for medical research to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, the fundraising arm of the NIH.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the research could benefit athletes and potential areas of study may include CTE, concussion management and treatment and disorders from later in life such as Alzheimer’s.
September 06, 2012
Southern California athletic director Pat Haden says USC will investigate a Los Angeles Times report claiming two Trojans athletes received gifts from an employee of the Los Angeles County assessor's office.
The Times reported on September 1 that former tailback Joe McKnight and former men’s basketball player Davon Jefferson apparently received a car, an airline ticket and cash from Scott Schenter.
The former appraiser is under investigation in an apparently unrelated scandal at the assessor's office. His interest in the two athletes wasn't immediately apparent.
Haden says USC investigated reports of McKnight using a Land Rover registered to Schenter in 2009. The school worked with the NCAA, which didn’t process a violation.
Haden says the school wasn't aware of additional gifts to the two athletes. USC already has discussed the report with the NCAA and Pac-12.
Haden replaced Mike Garrett in July 2010.
August 30, 2012
By Kenneth Miller
[Editor’s note: Ken Miller is an award winning veteran journalist who spent 30 years writing for the L.A. Sentinel and has been a popular guest on local sports talk radio for several years. This is the first edition of his weekly sports column.]
Anyone who thought for just one moment that my perspective on life is boxed into sports just think again.
While I certainly want to offer a different perspective on the sports world, it is secondary at least for the next few months when Americans will decide the fate of its first African American president, Barack Obama.
Both the Democrats and Republicans are sort of behaving like the crips and bloods, but they are not killing each other they just seem to be killing us slowly.
Each will stage their national conventions over the next two weeks, with the Reeps wrapping up this week in Tampa and the Dems next week in Charlotte.
I can’t help but notice that both parties play this political game of football much better than me, but I am always in tune to what side celebrities or athletes play their political hand.
I know that Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steeler receiver Lynn Swann; a former Trojan is also a Reep, as well as former SC athletic Director Mike Garrett.
Have you ever checked out Real Sports on HBO and saw this dude Bernard Goldberg? I once admired his style of reporters until he showed up on FOX bashing the president.
I do know that many NBA players are down with the Prez, such as LeBron James, and Oprah told us a long time ago Obama is ‘Brilliant.’
Boxing promoter Don King used to wear a George Bush button on his sequined jacket, but now says that he is a Republicrat, whatever the who that is.
Is it just me or does the Republican Party reflect a group of elitist whites, rarely a brother or sister in sight?
If Mitt Romney was a surgeon I sure would not want him operating on me. The dude goes back and forth more than a windshield wiper and just has a sneaky look about him as if he’s hiding something. Maybe his taxes? I’m just sayin’.
The kid running mate Paul Ryan has a rather sinister look about him that spells doom for us if that cat is second in command.
Personally, I have debated what the hell I am, until I look at the Republican Party. There is no one in that party that quite resembles me or my ideas.
Bottom line my friends if you think this election is about the economy or political parties you are dead wrong.
It’s about the class of races, white against Black. Them white folk want President Obama out by any means necessary, and as much as they can ‘trust what Mitt will do,’ he does have a complexion they can relate to. DON’T LET IT HAPPEN!
August 30, 2012
By GREG BEACHAM
Robert Woods’ goal for the upcoming season sounds fairly modest.
“Just trying to make more plays than I did last year,” he said.
Except that last season, the All-American receiver made more plays for top-ranked Southern California than anybody in school or conference history. Woods made 111 catches, breaking Keyshawn Johnson’s records in just 12 games — even without the benefit of a Pac-12 title game or a bowl game for the postseason-banned Trojans.
So just how can Woods top the most prolific season ever produced by a receiver at a school with decades of stellar offensive tradition? By improving the quality of his plays, not the quantity.
“If you check out some of the games, I had a big drop against Stanford,” Woods said. “That was a big play right there. Some missed opportunities in the Cal game, the Washington game. Those are the type of plays I need to make, and those are the plays I need to capitalize on.”
Woods clearly pays attention to details, even on plays that happened 10 months ago. Nothing has changed about his meticulous preparation and work ethic, which have pushed him above receivers with greater physical gifts at USC.
And though Woods has set a deceptively daunting goal for himself, he says he's close to fully healthy after rehabilitating an injured ankle throughout the offseason. USC limited Woods to one practice on many two-a-day sessions, attempting to keep him in the best shape possible for Saturday’s season opener against Hawaii at the Coliseum.
If Woods can stay healthy, the Trojans think there’s no limit to what he could accomplish as a junior.
“This is the best he has looked since last year or so,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “It’s good to see him push a little more, make five or six plays in a row.”
With 176 receptions in two seasons, Woods already is the sixth-leading receiver in USC’s rich history, even without ever playing in a postseason game. He’s also just 40 catches shy of Dwayne Jarrett’s school-record 216 catches, which means Woods easily could be the leading pass-catcher in USC history by the midway point of his junior season.
But after two years of youthful overachievement, Woods seems confident in his status as an upperclassman and a team leader. He’s among the core of young talent that never considered leaving USC during its two-year postseason ban, and he’s poised for the high expectations that come with the preseason No. 1 ranking.
“It’s the same,” Woods said of the Trojans’ preparations for a season with much higher expectations.
“Last season, we didn’t have the ranking, but we still had a lot to prove, just to prove that we still are SC and on the top,” he added. “Now, we are on the top, but we still have to prove that we’re the top team every week. It’s a constant battle. Nothing really changes.”
That consistency is just one reason Woods and Marqise Lee are among the top receiving duos in the nation. The former high school teammates’ rivalry is strictly friendly, even after Kiffin said Lee had the potential to be the greatest receiver in USC history last season.
“We’re a very close group,” Lee said. “We’re always together for the most part, always going places together, even walking each other to class. There’s no bad feelings. We’re all working toward the same goal.”
Woods and Lee were the fourth tandem of 1,000-yard receivers in school history last year, while Matt Barkley set the conference record with 39 touchdown passes with an offense that scored at least 30 points in each of its final 10 games.
Woods is considered the technician of the receiving corps, while Lee is thought to be the most gifted athlete, as evidenced by his weekly production of jaw-dropping highlights in practice. Woods is a low-key, humble star in interviews — yet his Twitter handle is still (at)HeismanWoods.
Woods doesn’t shy away from those labels, seeing them as a compliment to his work — yet he also produces one-handed, diving fireworks on a regular basis. Woods’ work ethic reminds new Trojans receivers coach Tee Martin of Jerry Rice.
But Woods isn’t getting caught up in outside expectations. He’ll stick to his own goals and the Trojans’ week-to-week process of improvement, even while his fans await his next superlative achievement.
“We definitely don’t listen to any of the hype,” Woods said. “The hype is always going to be there. If you get in the game and you make a big play, that's when you get hyped. It’s always going to be around. You keep the hype around, but if you just make your plays, the hype will come with it. We’re not even really allowed to talk about it.”
August 30, 2012
BY KENNETH MILLER
LA Watts Times Correspondent
Although the city of Los Angeles has been without a National Football League team since the Raiders followed the Rams right out of town in 1995, L.A. born players will be most prominent and dominant this season in both the NFL and collegiate ranks.
More players born in Los Angeles will wear NFL uniforms than any other city, with an estimated 114 on rosters opening day. On the college circuit the top team in the nation is bowl eligible USC.
While you are channel surfing throughout this football season, you are likely to see some of these local African American players shine in the colors of their team.
If the Raiders never turn their fortunes around he will not be the single reason, but when the late Al Davis allowed for this pure cover corner to leave via free agency you knew the old man had lost it.
Although he was born in Louisiana, he is Nigerian. He attended Bishop Montgomery, Leuzinger and Narbonne before signing with Cal Berkeley.
His 15 career picks is not close to describing how valuable a player he is which is why the Eagles paid $60 mil to get him. If he does his thing Philly can live up to expectations.
If you want to know why Oregon didn’t even flinch when their most productive offensive players from 2011 bolted to the pros, you need to look no further than the return of this senior power runner who hails from Lynwood. He rushed for 123 carries on just 15 carries against USC last season while averaging 8 yards per carry.
Here is why Oregon will scare the scarlet and gold out of USC.
Born in Pasadena. His dad, Richard Bell, was a wing back at Nebraska and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1990 NFL draft, where he played for one season as a running back. He is also related to former Major League Baseball star Darryl Strawberry who won four World Series titles with the New York Mets and New York Yankees and was an eight-time All-Star during his 17-year career. Young Jared is a defensive back for the Buffs and planning to make his own headlines this season.
JOSELIO HANSON/ PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Bet you probably didn’t know the success of the ‘Dream Team’ would probably be riding on the trusted shoulders of an unheralded corner back from Inglewood who prepped at St Bernard.
Hanson didn’t even make the team in high school as a junior, but helped the Vikings excel as a senior. Despite not being recruited by the big boys, he went to El Camino College, was an undrafted rookie to make an impression with the 49ers before being cut and now has a two-year deal with the Eagles. Hard work pays off.
Donald Penn played at Utah St. and Jose Hanson played at Texas Tech and El Camino Community College.
Matt Barkley could have been the second pick in the 2012 NFL draft, but decided to remain a Trojan probably because there are not better receivers in the NFL than he has on his team.
One of them is this elite high flyer that caught 73 passes for 1143 yards and 11 touchdowns, as a FRESHMAN! He also ran for another 285 on returns and another score.
This super sensational sophomore from Serra High School in Gardena already has NFL scouts drooling and agents lining up at his doorstep. A three-sport star at Serra where he was exceptional in football, basketball and world class in track is off the charts and reason for the Trojan horse to get in shape for this campaign.
DESEAN JACKSON/ EAGLES
DJ has always been a bonafide star from the moment he took flight playing for local powerhouse Long Beach Poly where he led the Jackrabbits to the CIF Southern Section title as a senior in 2004. He was an MVP in the Army Under Armour All American game the same year he got away to Cal, a mistake USC and UCLA never quite recovered from.
Even after starring at Cal and giving SC and the Bruins nightmares he lasted until the second round where he was nabbed by the Eagles and has been their go to wide out ever since.
He took last season off from the field, dismayed that he wasn’t rewarded with a sizeable contract that he subsequently got this year.
Born and raised in Los Angeles he has caught passes for more than 4,000 yards and scored 21 touchdowns during a brief three-year career. The sky is the limit for him and he knows it and with the cash in the bag, he has no more excuses to point at. A two-time Pro Bowler already he could be aimed towards Canton when its all said and done.
DONALD PENN/TAMPA BAY BUCS
Here is another St. Bernard Viking that went undrafted, but is currently starting offensive line in the NFL. Further proof that if you are good enough the NFL will find you. He went to Utah State before the Minnesota Vikings signed him, made the Pro Bowl in 2010 and is now the primary protector of quarterback Josh Freeman.
STEVE SMITH/ PANTHERS
Only one of 35 NFL players to achieve more than 10, 000 receiving yards with 59 touchdowns and six TD returns on kickoffs for the only team he has ever played for during an illustrious 11 year NFL career. A Los Angeles native who attended University High before going to Santa Monica College and earning a scholarship to the University of Utah, he is everything that DeSean Jackson wants to be. Durable and a fiery competitor who is a five time Pro Bowl selection. Undoubtedly the most accomplished football player on this list. Cam Newton threw to him 29 times for 1,394 yards and six touchdowns in ’11 and there is no reason not to expect more from the duo this season.
DEANTHONY THOMAS/ OREGON
When Snoop Dogg gives you a nickname then you must be really something! The Black Mamba electrified crowds while at Crenshaw where he played three positions, running back defensive back and wide receiver in addition to returning kicks. Not to mention that he ran a blistering 20-second 200 meters for the Cougars track team. He could have been the reason the USC football program never recovered from probation if not for Lee and Woods, but Oregon is sure as heck happy he decided to come there.
As a true freshman for Oregon he amassed a staggering 2,235 all-purpose yards, while his season haul of 18 touchdowns reset the school record for number of touchdowns by a true freshman.
He turned in a stellar two touchdown, 314 all-purpose yard performances in the Rose Bowl that helped propel Oregon to a 45-38 victory over Wisconsin. In that game, his 91-yard touchdown run broke the previous Rose Bowl record for the longest run from scrimmage. His only other carry in that game resulted in a 64-yard score, giving him a 77.5-yard average for the mention. The Heisman trophy is next!
DELANIE WALKER /SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
Another Los Angeles native flying under the radar in the Bay. A sixth round draft pick by the Niners in 2006, he played high school ball at Pomona High, went to Mr. San Antonio College and then Central Missouri. A tightend with a wide receivers speed, which makes for him a difficult cover in the West Coast offense. A name to be reckoned with on the upstart 49ers.
ROBERT WOODS/ USC
The other tandem in that dynamic duo at USC that just would not allow for Barkley to leave for the riches of the NFL. Born in Gardena where he also attended Serra High School where he starred in football and played basketball. A year ahead of Lee and will probably leave with his quarterback to the NFL following what should be a banner season. Has 176 catches for more than 2,000 yards receiving in career at SC.
This rugged albeit versatile linebacker who played on the same high school team with DeAnthony Thompson is a NFL prototype who runs well from sideline to side line and is a big play threat. He played on the offensive backfield and on defense for Robert Garrett at Crenshaw and had 12 solo tackles against Oregon in 2011. Undoubtedly a major defensive anchor for the No. 1 ranked Trojans whose future is well beyond the collegiate ranks. Born and raised in Inglewood, he is just additional proof that with or without an NFL team, we got pros playing here!