Chris Henry’s death should motivate the NFL to be more proactive when it comes to the long-term health of players

I’m not a doctor and therefore, I’m not qualified to draw conclusions about what eventually happens to people’s brains after years of playing contact sports – most notably football.

But the latest news involving Chris Henry’s death has sprouted a discussion that everyone can be a part of because it strips away the football aspect of the game and reminds us that athletes’ long-term health is at risk.

Henry died last December when he fell out of the back of a truck and suffered serious head trauma. Despite the fact that he had no documented instances of concussions while at West Virginia or with the Bengals, recent reports state that he had suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, before his death. (In layman’s terms, he was dealing with brain damage even before he met his tragic end.)

According to doctors, symptoms of CTE can include failure at personal and business relationships, use of drugs and alcohol, depression and even suicide. Henry’s legal troubles over the years have been well documented and just recently, his mother claims that he suffered two concussions while playing high school football, which resulted in headaches. She also states that he started smoking marijuana right around the same time.

But just because Henry smoked pot doesn’t mean that it was because he had brain damage from playing football. He could have made a conscious decision to toke up, just as he could have made a conscious decision to conceal a firearm in January of 2006 (which led to an arrest), assault a valet attendant in Kentucky in 2007, as well as punch an 18-year-old boy while throwing a beer bottle through the window of his car in 2008.

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Report: Chris Henry had brain damage before he died

According to a report by the Cincinnati Enquirer, former Bengals receiver Chris Henry suffered from a chronic brain injury that may have influenced his mental state and behavior before he died last year.

Bailes and fellow researchers believe chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is caused by multiple head impacts, regardless of whether those blows result in a concussion diagnosis. A number of studies, including one commissioned by the NFL, have found that retired professional football players may have a higher rate than normal of Alzheimer’s disease and other memory problems.

What’s interesting, Bailes said, is that Henry was only 26, and neither NFL nor WVU records show he was diagnosed with a concussion during his playing career.

CTE carries specific neurobehavioral symptoms, Bailies said — typically, failure at personal and business relationships, use of drugs and alcohol, depression and suicide.

Bailes said he and Omalu have now analyzed the brains of 27 modern athletes, and the majority showed evidence of CTE. But it’s found in only a small number of players, he said.

Whether Henry’s brain damage can be attributed to playing football or not, it’s vital that doctors continue to research ways to make the game safer. Football is a violent game and while the league has taken steps to improve the equipment that players wear, they should never be satisfied when it comes to protecting the athletes.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

The silver lining in Chris Henry’s death

TMZ reports that Chris Henry donated several organs after his untimely death…

TMZ has obtained the NFL star’s autopsy report, which shows that the 26-year-old’s heart, lungs, liver, spleen, pancreas and kidneys were donated in the wake of his death on December 16, 2009.

When I was 20 years old, my father had a heart attack helping me move out of my college dorm. I frantically drove him to the town’s hospital using a map in the back of my phone book. Apparently, the clinic had just received the clot busting medicine that they used to save my dad’s life.

After a triple bypass that didn’t work, my dad was lucky enough to receive a heart transplant two years later. It was from an 18-year-old kid who died on his birthday. Because of that transplant, he lived until this past January, or an extra 14 years. He saw me win a national championship, he was at my wedding and he got to know his grandson.

So if you haven’t already become an organ donor, please take a moment to think about what Chris Henry did for those patients lucky enough to receive his organs and what that 18-year-old kid did for my father and my family.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Q&A with ESPN’s Mike Golic

If you listen to ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike In the Morning,” you know that former NFL defensive lineman Mike Golic is one half of the equation and the counterpoint to long-time “Sportscenter” anchor Mike Greenberg. While both share a passion for sports, Golic takes the role of the “man’s man” and frequently discusses his passion for food and in particular, his love for grilling out. Well, lucky for us, Golic recently teamed up with Kingsford Charcoal to promote their new and improved briquets (and their new flavors of KC Masterpiece sauce and marinade), as well as with chef Chris Lilly, who owns Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q and is an award winning barbecue chef. So we’ve got some of their special recipes on our Grub For Guys page on, but we also had the opportunity to interview Golic about ESPN, grilling out, and of course, football:

The Scores Report: Hey Mike, we know you love to eat and love to grill. What is your favorite KC Masterpiece new flavor and why?

Mike Golic: I’m an original flavor kind of guy – no bells or whistles needed for me. But, I’ve tried the new KC Masterpiece Smoky Bourbon Barbecue Sauce and the smoky, sweet taste gives the original flavor some good competition for best sauce.

TSR: What are your thoughts on the new briquets, and do you use your grill year round?

MG: I have a fairly busy schedule with “Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN analysis, and my family, but I definitely try to keep my grill fired up year-round whenever I have down-time. There is no better way to bring family and friends together than over the smokey flavors of a charcoal grill. In fact, when my boys where in high school, I used to travel to their football camps in early-August and grill for their entire teams during two-a-day workouts.

Kingsford MatchLight is my go-to charcoal – it has lighter fluid built into the briquet formula so it lights quickly and easily – which is especially convenient when I’m tailgating. I’ve heard that Kingsford briquets now light easier and faster, which I can also appreciate since I’m always crunched for time with my busy schedule.

TSR: Do you have any go-to items you like to grill for Super Bowl Sunday, or are you usually too busy working to cook that day?

MG: I will be working the whole week leading up to Super Bowl in Miami, but I’m excited to be able to go home and watch the actual game with my friends and family. But, while I’m in Miami, I will be firing up the grill with my buddy, world champion pitmaster, Chris Lilly earlier in the week. Chris has taught me quite a bit about grilling over the years and has inspired me to create a few tailgate recipes of my own. I will be demonstrating my BBQ Blitz Chicken Wraps for a few TV interviews with Chris before sharing a little tailgate with the lucky winner of the “On the Grill with Golic” sweepstakes that took place earlier this year. The recipe is attached in case your readers want to try it at home. For more great grilling recipes become a fan of Kingsford on Facebook at

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NFL Week 16 COY Power Rankings

Upsets galore and crazy outcomes have forced us to look a bit harder at the Coach of the Year rankings, but most of our contenders are hanging tough.

1. Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts—The poor guy is still dodging proverbial rocks being thrown by Colts’ fans, who wanted their team to continue its pursuit of perfection instead of rolling over against the Jets. Being that the Colts were still in position to go to 15-0 when Caldwell did that, we have to cut him some slack and remember that his team is still the top seed in the AFC and would be in the NFC as well.

2. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints—Payton surely did not want to back into the #1 seed in the NFC, but after losing two games in a row, his team did just that when the Vikings’ loss Monday night let the Saints snag the top position. And once again, we have to consider the entire season’s body of work.

3. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers—When you consider that Turner’s Chargers always play lousy in September, only to win when it really matters, that’s far better than it being the other way around. It’s time we started to give Turner his due.

4. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals—The Bengals are another team not playing well, but they have dealt with two tragedies this season—the death of player Chris Henry, and the passing of the wife of D-coordinator Mike Zimmer. And still, the Bengals are 10-5 with an AFC North title. Raise your hand if you expected that.

5. Brad Childress, Minnesota Vikings—Yes, the Vikings are floundering and in danger of losing the #2 seed to Philly or Dallas, but I’ll keep mentioning two players who Childress sought in the off-season that made this a championship caliber team—Brett Favre and Percy Harvin.

Honorable mention: Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals; Mike McCarthy, Packers; Andy Reid, Eagles; Bill Belichick, Patriots; Rex Ryan, Jets; Wade Phillips, Cowboys; Josh McDaniels, Denver Broncos

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