It’s not often when one can draw parallels between professional athletes and elected officials in Washington, D.C.. Today, however, one of those opportunities surfaced, causing me to conclude that politicians, like professional football players, should donate their brains to science.
The idea began to gel in my mind when the National Football League announced just five days ahead of Super Bowl XLIV that it is giving $1 million to encourage current and former NFL players to donate their brains to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, which has said it “found links between head trauma and brain damage in …football players.”
As a former quarterback who was knocked unconscious on no fewer than two occasions while leading my junior high school football team to one victory over the course of two seasons, I understand – albeit to a lesser degree — what it feels like to be “knocked silly.” But does it take a lot of scientific study to figure out that such trauma isn’t good for the brain, especially when done repeatedly over several years? And should it surprise anyone to learn that those who endure such trauma as part of the price of being a professional football player will likely suffer over the long run as a result? I don’t think so.
Enter the politicians.
While a small handful of individuals have been able to use their athletic prowess as springboards for launching political careers, most of the men and women who’ve served in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives have done so without first having to be beaten up for years at place like Lambeau Field in Green Bay or Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Nevertheless, those same individuals end up making political decisions that defy common sense on a regular and frequent basis — which leads me to my point.
If the NFL can spend $1 million to encourage the study of football players’ brains, shouldn’t Congress spend at least the same amount to encourage the study of politicians’ brains? After all, there is so much more at stake when a president, senator or representative makes a boneheaded decision than when Kurt Warner feels woozy or Troy Aikman has a headache that lasts for days.