Before I get to Brandon...
Jack Andraka was featured on 60 Minutes. SIXTY FREAKIN' MINUTES. How can that NOT make you smile???? I can't believe I missed that in my reminders. At the same time, on the same night, CNN aired an interview with Malala. Another young person rock star. The funny part of that? I know that the interview with Malala was taped at an event in NYC where Jack was also speaking. I also know he tried to get to meet her and he couldn't get into the green room. Somehow, I know BOTH of these two young people will be accepting Nobel Prizes at some point in their respective futures. Who is Malala? Google her name. Watch every video. Who is Jack? Here's his MedX keynote on Lori's blog. Each of these young people has captured a piece of my heart.
The night before last, I watched Mondays at Racine. I cried through most of it. How they were able to capture every conceivable emotion and every possible angle in a very short documentary just blew me away. If you didn't catch it, this IS a must see. Keep the tissues at your side and as you nod your head through pretty much the entire movie, think of me doing the exact same thing. Nodding and crying.
Meanwhile, back in the land of pink gloves, flags and football, I'm thrilled. Why? In case it's gone unnoticed, I tend to have this love for all things disruptive. Constructive disruption. And that speaks to the actions of one NFL player who stood his ground. On his green shoes. Knowing damn well he was going to get a fine for doing it.
The player is Brandon Marshall. He is on the Chicago Bears. The game was against the NY Giants. He chose to sport a pair of lime green cleats that evening. The NFL was kind. They weren't going to suspend him or throw him off the field, but he would be fined for bucking the pink. Technically, it wasn't about the pink, it was about the rules in general but I'm choosing to highlight this in bright pink.
You see, it happens to have been Mental Health Awareness Week and Brandon, who has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, chose to bring awareness to another kind of health issue. And he was fined. And, he announced that he would match the fine in the form of a donation and auction off the cleats and donate that money, too. The guys at ESPN said it's laudable but he should have picked a different time (that blurb is at the 2 minute mark in the video if you click). Hell, it's breast cancer awareness time for football. How DARE he take away from that?
Riddle me this? How much attention would those shoes have gotten at some random game in December when the NFL wasn't bathed in pink. I'll tell you. ZERO. It would have been a story buried in the back of some local Chicago news. Instead, it was a big deal. Because it IS a big deal.
And I say KUDOS. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the cost of mental health care was equal to the cost of cancer care. There are nine million ways to read numbers so rather than trying to explain, here's the article on the NIMH website.
Some may recall that issues surrounding mental health became a highly personal matter in my life as the summer began. It remains highly personal and not one iota less important than the needs of the cancer community.
Beyond that, since I first saw Pink Ribbons Inc. and had my eyes opened to the motives behind this Crucial Catch, I questioned why the NFL isn't taking care of its own. Players with head trauma.... and the league not taking care of them..... I've been pushed on that (in real life) and I've pushed back. Hard. Sorry. You have all of these resources to support a "cause" and you don't take care of your own first? That's wrong.
Let's add insult to injury, shall we? Head trauma that causes physical brain damage can lead to what is called "TBI induced psychosis." I know a little about this but I'll keep it simple. Here's what CNN reported in 2009. So here's Mr. Marshall, raising awareness in an area that directly affects him now and has affected and will likely continue to affect many former, present and future football players. Let's kick him while he's down.
And then..... there's the book. I just downloaded it to my kindle. League of Denial. There was a recent PBS documentary aired and the NFL refused to participate, refused to comment, did that "deny, deny, deny" thing and ultimately, this past August, settled a lawsuit with over 4500 players and their families, to the tune of $765 Million Dollars. This to avoid a public trial which would expose their knowledge of the dangers of the head injuries. Their internal files will remain safe.
And we will remain bathed in pink on football fields for the month.
And Brandon Marshall paid his fine.
Auctioned off the cleats.
And nothing has changed.
But Brandon Stood Up. And I'll take a stand up guy any day of the week over those who try to hide.
And while I'm at it..... Cue Frank: My kind of town......Chicago --- for standing up with Brandon by lighting their city in green..
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