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This Is The Horrifying Way People Talked About Concussions In 1988

At least we've come a long way?

Luckily, society in general and the NFL in particular have come to realize in recent years that concussions and head injuries in general should be taken very seriously. 

If you need a refresher on just how far we've come, take a look at this news report from 1988, which was brought to our attention by a reader.

This report intends to give an "update" on the condition of Chicago Bears' quarterback Jim McMahon after he suffered a concussion in an October 1988 game against the Lions. But this video is evidence of how lightly concussions were viewed during this time.

There are so many things to take away from this video.

1. The main anchor refers to Jim McMahon simply as "having a headache," with the sports anchor replying, "That's about the extent of it, though -- he's going to be alright."

2. Mike Ditka declares, in 1980s Ditka fashion, that Jim McMahon would "practice full speed Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and play Sunday against Dallas. He'll be fine, 100 percent, that question shouldn't be asked again."

3. Ditka also mentions that McMahon had "spots in front of his eyes for a while," but then says "he was fine after that. To which we respond: Uh ...

It's all pretty disturbing considering what we know about concussions now -- and more specifically, McMahon's health. The former quarterback spoke about his early onset dementia and other physical ailments in a January 2015 HBO "Real Sports" segment.

The Super Bowl winner has said that he believes his ongoing health problems were the results of the beatings he took during his career.

Ditka's changed his tune too. In the same segment, the former NFL coach admits that if he had an 8-year-old kid, he wouldn't want them to play football, as the "risk is worse than the reward."

The 1988 clip is a reminder of a time when the NFL saw head injuries as comparable to a sprained ankle -- something to play through to prove your toughness. Almost everyone in the 1980s, media included, was ignorant to the issues surrounding hits to the head.

The media caught on soon after, while the NFL continued to fight, documented at length in the book League of Denial. But the video could also be seen as reason for optimism -- we've come a long way since 1988. In light of numerous concussion-related revelations in recent years, only fools are taking concussions lightly these days. 

 

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