THE San Francisco Giants Blog

Borland’s Brain

Posted in Uncategorized by Flavor on March 17, 2015

I find it ironic that yesterday’s thread was titled “Fragile Arms” and on the same day promising 49ers linebacker Chris Borland retired from football citing a possible “Fragile Brain” as the reason. He was 24.

The day after Patrick Willis retired I was consoling a friend who was distraught with the news of his favorite linebacker leaving the game. I told him, “Hang in there bro. We’ve got Chris Borland waiting in the wings.” He perked up.

And now this? I was expecting to read that Borland had suffered several concussions in his career but according to him he’s had 2. Two. TWO. And he’s never been diagnosed with one in an NFL game.

Whatever, no one’s holding a gun to his head, so to speak. He can do what he wants. Later Borland, good luck with that history degree from Wisconsin or whatever you received (or studied while you were in college).

I’ve felt for a while now that football is going to have a tough time succeeding in the next decade or so if the league continues to enforce rules that belong in flag football, not NFL football. But if the NFL is going to start losing young studs like Borland in preemptive attempts to protect their brains then the NFL is FUCKED.

Why not just choose to be a baseball pitcher instead of a football player (when you’re in high school). Risking a possible TJ surgery sure beats risking having your brain scrambled. This is what we’re going to start seeing.

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57 Responses

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  1. gianthead said, on March 17, 2015 at 6:35 am

    The future of football will be equivalent to the gladiators from Roman history. Only the lower strata in society in the next generation will subject their kids to getting their heads knocked around….

    • blade3colorado said, on March 17, 2015 at 7:16 am

      I agree GH . . . In my post below, the mother has a Masters degree, doesn’t really like sports and consequently, is blaming herself for allowing her son to play football and already experience 2 concussions.

  2. blade3colorado said, on March 17, 2015 at 7:13 am

    I hadn’t seen this thread, when I responded to Chuck’s late post regarding this subject yesterday . . . This is my response to him:

    “Recently, I was dating this woman who had two young sons (9 and 10 years old) and the older one had already experienced 2 concussions while playing youth football. The physician who saw the boy advised the mother to prohibit her son from ever playing the game again. He cited studies which show the brain being the last body part to fully develop, i.e., late 20s or early 30s. Consequently, any concussion or cumulative blows to the brain will affect that full development. In any event, she did immediately prohibited her son from playing (although the boy still wants to play, but thus far has adhered to her mom’s prohibition).”

  3. sfsarge said, on March 17, 2015 at 7:31 am

    As the evidence mounts about the long term dangers of repeated blows to the head, football is going to become a lot more like boxing. After the settlement and the Seau suicide people started paying a lot more attention to the implications of having your brains beat in for years. Maybe more kids start playing soccer as a result.

    • unca_chuck said, on March 17, 2015 at 7:37 am

      Thing is Borland’s first concussion was in a soccer game in 8th grade.

  4. dirtnrocksnomo said, on March 17, 2015 at 8:03 am

    I was sort of surprised by Borland’s decision but its a lot easier for him to walk away from the game. I guess its back to Kettering, OH for a life of teaching PE. The decision for kids in Miami or Long Beach isn’t so simple.

  5. willedav said, on March 17, 2015 at 8:03 am

    Interesting story, likely more to come in next few days. Dunno what exactly can be done about football so that these type of injuries can be avoided– lessened I can see, but avoided, no.

    Tonight is one of play in games involving the Hampton Pirates of the MEAC traditionally black college conference. They have an RPI of 251, a losing record, gave up more points than they scored, but beat the team (Delaware State of John Taylor fame) that beat the team that went undefeated in league (NC Central) to win the league tourney. While these guys hardly qualify as a mid major, that’s the problem with a team like NC Central–you lose to some chump team with RPI in 250s, you’re in the NIT just like Murray St.

    Most famous alumni of Hampton is one of my heroes—Rick Mahorn of Powerful Pistons. Somewhere Johnny Most is rolling over in his grave. Good luck to the Bad Boy’s team.

    • Macdog said, on March 17, 2015 at 10:09 am

      Teams like Hampton that are below .500 should not be allowed in the tournament. If that conference can’t find a suitable team as its representative, then screw ’em.

  6. Bozo said, on March 17, 2015 at 8:18 am

    I thought this was a pretty good article about Borland retiring. http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2015/03/17/why-chris-borlands-retirement-should-terrify-the-nfl/
    As the article points out, its just “Next man up” for the NFL.

    • blade3colorado said, on March 17, 2015 at 8:44 am

      Thanks John. Thoughtful column.

  7. Nipper said, on March 17, 2015 at 8:32 am

    The NFL doesn’t give a damn. These guys are just bodies coming through the system. A little PR and we all go back to enjoying America’s number ONE sport. Sorry Baseball you’re number TWO.

    • blade3colorado said, on March 17, 2015 at 8:47 am

      Not too certain about that Nip. Personally, I rarely watch or pay attention to football anymore. Sure, that’s anecdotal, but I do see a trend developing (read the column Bozo cited) all along the football “ecosystem” (youth to pro football).

    • chipower9 said, on March 17, 2015 at 10:22 am

      I don’t know…I have many friends who baseball is their number one sport. Baseball always has been, and always will be number ONE in my book.

  8. zumiee said, on March 17, 2015 at 9:18 am

    “Why not just choose to be a baseball pitcher instead of a football player (when you’re in high school).”

    The problem is, if you want to play high school baseball, you have to choose to do that way before high school, to develop the skills of the sport, and that gets into the whole money-thing again.
    There’ll never be a shortage of football players for the NFL, because it’s always there as a ticket out of poverty. At a physical cost, though, of course.

  9. willedav said, on March 17, 2015 at 9:23 am

    On way to the gym I heard a former pro footballer Tim something talking to M and M on KNBR. He said there is so much money in NFL these days he could see more of guys playing a lot less and leaving earlier.
    But college game is bigger than ever and playoff system just means more big bucks TV money to big bucks schools, and there are plenty of guys who come out of smaller schools that can still make an NFL team. I think the demise theory way overblown.
    What I do think is disturbing trend is guys leaving school early to turn pro. I don’t blame them and don’t think it’s right to deny them that opportunity but just like NBA it waters down level of play and lot of them are in for very rude awakening without an education.

  10. willedav said, on March 17, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Another thing about football is that pro game has become so specialized that with one skill you can still play and get paid a lot of money. If the teams didn’t have it, they wouldn’t pay it. NFL is a tremendous business.
    Not to mention there are coaches just to teach it–there are so many coaches at pro level today, college too.
    Beneath the HC are the co-ordinators (at least 3 for O, D and Spec teams) then position coaches for receivers, tight ends, linemen, running backs, D-line, backers, D backs, kickers, spec team coverages yada yada.
    Even at smaller colleges I’ll see this in Transactions—“Joe Smith was promoted to outside linebackers coach at Sam Houston State.”

  11. chipower9 said, on March 17, 2015 at 10:19 am

    I was absolutely blindsided by this (first heard about it on my drive to work today). As Charlie mentioned, his first concussion was in the 8th grade playing soccer. His latest…playing football as a HS sophmore. I absolutely respect his decision and wish him the best.

    From yesterday’s thread, thanks for the video on “The Beginning of the End” of the Stick, Flav. Man, I was just thinking of all the places I had sat in during my many years taking in Giants games there. I remember the final series, too, and especially the final game. The helicopter came in, landed on the field, and they flew home plate from The Stick to the new yard. There was not a dry eye in the place.

    Also, thanks to Blade for the nice read on Ishi…and what a surprise, it came from ESPN. With that said, I had to go check out “The Blast” and subsequently, had to share it here. I love this line in the article Steve posted: “Giants general manager Brian Sabean was so overcome with emotion, he cried in his upstairs suite.”

    • dirtnrocksnomo said, on March 17, 2015 at 10:24 am

      HAHA, I was just watching this again yesterday. Ishikawa coming through with a HR in that moment is just awesome.

    • blade3colorado said, on March 17, 2015 at 11:02 am

      I was in Ho Chi Minh city, The Liberty III Hotel, in the early morning when Ishi hit his no doubt shot to right field. I was so fucking loud, the neighbors in the adjoining rooms probably thought I was killing someone. 🙂

      • chipower9 said, on March 17, 2015 at 11:41 am

        That’s awesome, Steve. I can just see you bouncing off the walls. Speaking of SEA…where in the hell is Paul? Is he still state-side?

      • blade3colorado said, on March 17, 2015 at 1:46 pm

        Chi, he was in the States, but got back to Vietnam about 2-3 weeks ago.

  12. James said, on March 17, 2015 at 10:21 am

    John Frank was a pioneer.

  13. unca_chuck said, on March 17, 2015 at 10:22 am

    At some point they need to integrate the shoulder pads and helmet to isolate the head from direct blows.

    Big Ol’ fucking bubbleheads or some shit. It may look dumb but it’ll decrease head injuries.

  14. Macdog said, on March 17, 2015 at 10:30 am

    I saw this on Twitter from a guy named Eliot Wolf, who’s the Director of Player Personnel for the Packers:

    “Anyone worried about the future of football should see the amount of calls & emails we get from kids literally begging to get into pro days.”

  15. chipower9 said, on March 17, 2015 at 10:48 am

    If the NFL takes a serious hit, it will come when there have been a number of lawsuits against the league, and insurance companies refuse to insure them for concussion-related injuries.

  16. Alleykat said, on March 17, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Borland’s reckless abandon for his body started at Wisconsin where he had 2 operations on his left shoulder and problems with his right as well..
    Should have been a red flag for Baakle, yet he still gambles on projects like Lattimore ( knee done) Tank Carridene?, Ian Williams? and others..
    Can’t afford to take projects now for the future that might not pan out. Need healthy STARTERS / Backup picks with a clean medical report in this draft!!

  17. chipower9 said, on March 17, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Yawn, stretch, scratch…yawn again…Oh yeah…the line-up for YOUR World Champion San Francisco Giants…

    Aoki – RF
    Panik – 2B
    Posey – C
    Belt – 1B
    McGehee – 3B
    Ishi – LF
    Blanco – CF
    Mudbug – SS
    Big Country – P

    In other news, the Giants made their first round of cuts today. The following were optioned to minor league camp:

    Christian Arroyo, Ty Blach, Kyle Crick, Aramis Garcia, Cory Gearrin, Adalberto Mejia, Ty Ross, Chris Stratton, Carlos Triunfel, Kelby Tomlinson and Mac Williamson.

    Carbonell was optioned to Double-A Richmond and right-handers Joan Gregorio and Derek Law were optioned to Single-A San Jose.

    27 days until the home opener, and a THIRD World Champions banner goes up the flag pole!

    • willedav said, on March 17, 2015 at 12:07 pm

      Not that it necessarily sealed their fate but yesterday vs. Reds (when did they move to AZ?):
      Stratton gave up 7 hits in 2 innings to open game
      Arroyo had an error at SS
      Crick 2 innings 5 hits 1 BB 5 earned

      I would guess for the pitchers just means more time to work on their own while ml SPs get more innings.

    • dirtnrocksnomo said, on March 17, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Pagan held out again? WTF?

      • chipower9 said, on March 17, 2015 at 12:55 pm

        Yeah, I have not been following ST closely (either listening to the games or following the news), so I went back and looked at the previous box scores. Pagan has not played since last Thursday. Anyone know if he is hurt again? FUCK!

  18. Nipper said, on March 17, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    ST is practice and the results of these games shows this repeatedly. To even show scores on TV is an exercise in futility. A little work then a nice game of golf later.

    • chipower9 said, on March 17, 2015 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks for clearing that up for us, Nip. Great insight…

      • Nipper said, on March 17, 2015 at 7:53 pm

        You ready for the DH? Maybe the new Commish will step on the diehards for good.

  19. Irish Kevin said, on March 17, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Ah yes the debate on to play or not to play after a concussion, well I for one have had a concussion, mine was 10 years ago. About two weeks before my 50th birthday. I can laugh about how it happened but not about the injury, I still get bouts of vertigo, not often, maybe once every six months or so. They last anywhere from a few days to a week. So I am all for a player who walks away due to the whole quality of life after football.

    That was a great video of Ishi, loved the close-up of the helmet slam!!

  20. pawliekokonuts said, on March 17, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    A friend of mine, a former colleague who is an environmental engineer, a PE, declared the coming end of football a year or two ago. I may have shared his view here. He compared the demise of football to asbestos, with its tide of lawsuits that started a little after twenty years ago. (Blade can educate us; was it CERCLA-related? a direct result of OSHA regs in 1970?). I said, football? America’s game? All those billions? Asbestos, he said. And added that mommas don’t want their boys hurt.

    Is it all coming true?

    • blade3colorado said, on March 17, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Different situation, but yes, possibly true. Johns Manville is an American corporation based in Denver, Colorado that manufactures insulation, roofing materials, and engineered products. For much of the 20th century, the then-titled Johns-Manville Corporation was the global leader in the manufacture of asbestos-containing products, including pipe insulation, asbestos shingles, asbestos roofing materials and asbestos cement pipe. Johns Manville stock was included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average from January 29, 1930 to August 27, 1982 when it was replaced by American Express. I remember this was either the first stock or second stock I ever bought. I made quite a bit of money off of it too, albeit, I had no idea what the company did, other then the fact I knew it was a construction materials corporation, i.e., back then I was still in the Fire Prevention field . . . then this happened:

      In 1982, facing unprecedented liability for asbestos injury claims, Johns Manville voluntarily filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The filing shocked financial analysts; but a few, such as Gary J. Aguirre, had predicted the filing and had forced Manville to post a bond to guarantee payment to their clients. Pawlie, yes – the 1970 OSH Act is primarily responsible for these personal lawsuits. CERCLA is on the environmental side (where they also faced lawsuits).

      The bankruptcy was resolved by the formation of the Manville Trust to pay asbestos tort claimants in an orderly fashion by giving the trust the lion’s share of the equity in the company. The bankruptcy took over 5 years to process and resulted in protracted litigation. The Manville Trust is still in operation today. By the by, did you know that in 2001, Johns Manville became a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway? Yep, that’s the company that Warren Buffett made famous.

      • pawliekokonuts said, on March 17, 2015 at 4:01 pm

        Knew you’d know. Tnx. Hey, I’m an owner now! I own some Berkshire-Hathaway, the cheaper class of stock. And a public thanks to you: I did eventually sell the Sirius stock you urged me to buy…..and made some dough.

      • blade3colorado said, on March 17, 2015 at 4:27 pm

        Cool Pawlie. My big recommendation now is B of A. Buy on any dips below 16. In fact, I would buy now before the train leaves the station. CCAR was approved (conditionally) and once the Fed raises interest rates, the stock will explode. Severely under priced IMO (as always do your due diligence).

  21. paulinasia said, on March 17, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    A couple of weeks ago while I was visiting my family in NJ/PA, I drove through Manville, NJ, a neighboring town to where I grew up in Bridgewater. MacDog and/or Bozo might remember the big ol’ Johns-Manville plant there. Loads of my grade school classmates’ fathers worked there, including my sister’s father-in-law, who died an early death from lung cancer. That plant site became a major Superfund site; now, there’s a Walmart and shopping center there. Other than those new developments, Manville still looks in most parts like a town that time forgot. Growing up in Bridgewater was somewhat nice; we had “mountains”, forests, swimming holes… but also had that Manville monstrosity nearby, AND, even worse, American Cyanamid, maker of all sorts of dyes and chemicals. Also had friends’ fathers who died young after being company men. That Cyanamid site, right off US highway 22, was also a major Superfund site. Now? Big shopping center and baseball park, home of the Somerset Patriots, where Sparky Lyle managed for years. Kind of makes me very happy that my Dad had a desk job so he’s still around at 98….. Ah, life in Joisey….

    • pawliekokonuts said, on March 17, 2015 at 7:51 pm

      We played baseball as kids next to American Cyanimid site in Stamford, CT. Guard would try to scare us off or chase us if we hopped barbed-wire fence to get foul balls. Who knew?

    • Bozo said, on March 17, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      Sorry Pawlie, I was a Left Coast guy until I moved to NC in 2008. I really don’t know any historical NJ details. I just got back from Connecticut though, and we did stop over the night in a place along the NJ Turnpike Sunday (Carteret ?). I did see some plants spewing a Kodak moment of smoke and who knows what, while driving on the Turnpike and some of that shit looked pretty scary. But still, the only thing I could really talk about is current info like the hotel that we stayed in, and the price of regular gas at the Shell station was $2.09 a gallon (cash) or $2.19 a gallon (debit or credit cards).

  22. blade3colorado said, on March 17, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Chuck’s 10:22am: “At some point they need to integrate the shoulder pads and helmet to isolate the head from direct blows. Big Ol’ fucking bubbleheads or some shit. It may look dumb but it’ll decrease head injuries.”

    Or get Woodpeckers to play football . . .

    “BEHOLD THE MIGHTY WOODPECKER. On average, it weighs about 2 ounces and can generate up to 1,000 g-forces while pecking at tree limbs 12,000 times a day. Yet the woodpecker’s brain remains pristine and unscathed, a fact that has intrigued researchers for decades. Nature essentially has turned the woodpecker into a shock absorber from beak to foot. The bird’s uneven bill deflects much of the impact of its incessant head banging. A third interior eyelid prevents its eyeballs from popping out. The woodpecker’s tongue is one of the most unusual features in nature. It extends from the back of the bird’s mouth and through its right nostril, finally wrapping itself snugly around the entire crown of the head. Chinese researchers who subjected the great spotted woodpecker and the Eurasian hoopoe to super-slow-motion replay and CT scans concluded that the tongue serves as a kind of safety belt for the brain.”

    • Alleykat said, on March 17, 2015 at 7:02 pm

      Fascinating read on the Woodpecker Blade..
      You know their’s some real Peckerheads playing football these days,that I wouldn’t might seeing not wearing helmets in games…

    • Nipper said, on March 17, 2015 at 7:49 pm

      Yeah they’re tough little birds, one keeps drilling into the telephone pole outside my bedroom window.

  23. old4times said, on March 17, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Uh oh. Pagan out with a stiff back.

    Lost today 10-0. Now 4-12-1.

    • Nipper said, on March 17, 2015 at 7:50 pm

      More golf time. Neck will probably feel better for that.

  24. pawliekokonuts said, on March 17, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Man, that Travis Ishikawa clip. Of course, we’ve seen it before, but I still get chills from it. Whew. Epic. epic in franchise history. And poor, stoic Mike Metheny with his sphinx-like stare into the void. AGAIN.

  25. Bozo said, on March 17, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    “And poor, stoic Mike Metheny with his sphinx-like stare into the void.”

    Pawlie, I think you just brought the thread back to the concussion topic.

    • DJLoo said, on March 17, 2015 at 9:03 pm

      How about the poor outfielder who watched it leave the park?
      I’m sure you heard what happened to him…

      • Bozo said, on March 18, 2015 at 6:41 am

        Yeah Loo, I know what happened to Taveras.Very sad ending for all concerned.

  26. paulinasia said, on March 17, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Interesting, Pawlie… I also played Little League games in what was called Cyanimid Park, adjacent to the Cyanimid plant (and now where the Somerset Patriots ballpark stands). What was it with Cyanimid and baseball fields? Sheesh, were they trying to kill us slowly as kids? I remember the smell at night sometimes coming from that place…. and yeah, Bozo, that stretch of the NJ Turnpike was often called Cancer Alley; the stench of the chemical plants and refineries always caused us to roll up the car windows going through there. As if that helped. Supposedly a lot better now, but obviously not completely…..

  27. snarkk said, on March 18, 2015 at 12:28 am

    It’s early.
    It’s Spring Training.
    But, the Gyros look kinda crappy…

    • Hargesheimer said, on March 18, 2015 at 3:07 am

      Perhaps because they are?

  28. Nipper said, on March 18, 2015 at 4:51 am

    It’s okay to be crappy in March as long as it doesn’t carry over into April.

  29. zumiee said, on March 18, 2015 at 5:04 am

    9 of the 10 runs the Giants gave up yesterday were by guys who’ll be in the minor leagues in 2015.
    The Giants’ minor leaguers have generally not looked good. It doesn’t seem like there’s much help coming from those guys this season.

  30. zumiee said, on March 18, 2015 at 5:08 am

    Some other teams have issues, too. The Dodgers’ bullpen has continued to be erratic. And their closer is out for two months. The Red Sox starting pitching has gotten roughed up this Spring. Stanton has one extra-base hit so far for Miami, coming off his big injury. He’ll eventually start hitting well. I don’t think they’re too concerned yet.


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