1900-1968 News Line of Football Brain Damage and Policy-Making

By Matt Chaney

Friday, January 1, 2016

The historical texts and notes on football issues previously posted here in timeline were publicly available only for a term. The collections are now in reserve by the researcher for future use. The following remain posted:

Chaney, M. (2016, Dec. 21). ‘Safe Football Failed in 1880s, Talking Points Lived On. ChaneysBlog.com

Chaney, M. (2015, July 28). The 1890s: Brain risks confirmed in American football. ChaneysBlog.com.

Chaney, M. (2016, Jan. 30). 1900-1912: ‘First Concussion Crisis’ for beloved football. ChaneysBlog.com.

Chaney, M. (2016, May 11). ‘Heads Up’ theory, football helmets and brain disease, 1883-1962. ChaneysBlog.com.

Chaney, M. (2016, May 31). Teddy Roosevelt loved football, except when it brutalized his son. Sports.Vice.com.

Chaney, M. (2016, Nov. 29, 2016). “Slaughter of the innocents”: When D.C. considered banning high school football. Sports.Vice.com.

Matt Chaney is an author, editor, and consultant on public issues in sport, specializing in American football. Chaney, MA in media studies, is a former college football player and coach whose books include Spiral of Denial: Muscle Doping in American Football, self-published in 2009Chaney’s study for graduate thesis, co-published with the University of Central Missouri in 2001, analyzed print sport-media coverage of anabolic substances in football from 1983-1999. Email him at mattchaney@fourwallspublishing.com or visit the website for more information. 

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  • brewonsouthu

    I don’t know why in the world you have done this work, but it is just plain superb. I’m stunned. Keep up the good work.

    • MrRyanBook

      Great to hear from you. I’m honestly unsure why, too, except foremost I’m a former player still trying to figure out what really happened. And it’s been 30 years out of the game for me. Thanks for reading and I’ll keep working, for good word like yours.

  • Don Brady, PhD, PsyD, NCSP

    An informative collection of brain damage beyond boxing and related policy newspaper articles that clearly reveals knowledge of the adverse effects of concussions/brain injuries has existed, and been headlined, for 3 centuries.
    Likewise, your information spotlights that concepts such as “Safer Football” and “Heads-up tackling” are NOT RECENT POLICY TOPICS but merely have become recycled during football’s apparent long history of marginalizing and denial by some, of both brain and non-brain injuries suffered in this collision contest.
    Related to your information: a pro boxer’s punch has been measured at 20 mph, while a stationary punt receiving NFL player was tackled at 25 mph by NFL defensive player.

    • MrRyanBook

      And thank you, Dr. Brady, for help from your stellar collection of TBI literature.

      • Don Brady, PhD, PsyD, NCSP


        Forgot to mention… your making available for public consumption the link to the April 1968 Fifth Circuit Appellate Court hearing of expert testimony of ‘chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is significant for those who desire to possess accurate historical brain injury
        time lines. It is also stunning that this revealing Court hearing re the multiple harmful effects of CTE was held almost 50 years ago !

  • Katherine Price Sloan Snedaker

    Safer Football” and Tackling without using the head/HeadsUp = Recycled, rebranded, repackaged for a hundred years… I wish every parent had to read this one blog post before they signed the waiver to let their child play.

    Matt, you have been a huge part of how my feelings have changed 180 degrees about supporting youth tackle football and football in general. One cannot read daily emails from you and read the blog above without truly reflecting on the real dangers of the sport. Thank you!

    • MrRyanBook

      My pleasure, Katherine, and thank you for your friendship and help the last few years. It’s a process for us all, figuring out football’s power and influence in this society. James Michener wrote in 1976 that if football were instead a critical, achieving, national physics lab of prep students, killing several and maiming untold annually, there would be no question of immediate abolition. But in the matter of football, which I’ve seen defy gravity for 40 years personally, Michener said, well, a society decides what it’s willing to pay for its entertainment. Howard Cosell wrote in 1983 that the NFL was more powerful than government. And in 2005, my late brilliant friend Steve Courson, writer and football expert, said we feed our children to the myth.

  • Pingback: Historian Matt Chaney’s ‘Football Papers’ Project — Brain Injury Findings Are a Story As Old As the Invention of the Huddle « Concussion Inc. – Author Irvin Muchnick