It’s been nearly two weeks since America last rolled their eyes at Aaron Rodgers, thus giving him the attention he so desperately craves, so you knew he was going to say something galaxy-brained and bone-headed before the week was up. Luckily, we have Pat McAfee paying him for that, so we were not disappointed.
Tom Brady, who actually deserves his own column after making $450 million off the game of football and then whining that he “doesn’t like what the NFL has become,” made headlines earlier this week by telling Stephen A. Smith, “I don’t think the coaching is as good as it was. I don’t think the development of the young players is as good as it was. The rules have allowed a lot of bad habits to get into the actual performance of the game. I just think the product, in my opinion, is less than what it’s been.”
It’s definitely a choice that Brady is making, taking the “back in my day, the game was better!” tack that has endeared John Smoltz to so many, but whatever. Brady is marginally less problematic than Rodgers, so we’ll leave him alone for now.
But with Brady in the news for his comments and Zach Wilson in the news for getting benched, Rodgers had no choice but to do something to top them both. Cribbing off Brady’s comments, this is Rodgers he came up with:
“If I’m looking at this from a real big picture, there’s a softening of society that has definitely caused things like this,” Rodgers told McAfee. “Hockey doesn’t have an enforcer position anymore. Why? Because we need the fighting out of hockey. It’s too violent.”
Now, let me remind you that, despite believing the sounds of dolphin sex have healing properties, taking medical advice from Joe Rogan, and grilling his teammates on 9/11 conspiracy theories, Rodgers has assured us that he is a “critical thinker.” Leaving out the fact that the “softening of society” is a phrase old men use when they want to yell about little kids getting trophies and people showing each other basic levels of kindness, let’s talk about hockey enforcers.
I’m not sure what Rodgers has been doing, outside of challenging a world-renowned epidemiologist to a debate for the last several years, but he’s missed a lot of pertinent information on the fate of hockey enforcers, so let me impart that now.
In 2023, Columbia University published a study of NHL “enforcers,” whom they defined as players who had participated in 50 or more fights, and compared them to players who fought far less, between 1967 and 2023, leading them to analyze more than 6,000 players. They discovered that enforcers had a much shorter life expectancy — those who had died passed away at an average age of 47.5, while the rest of the players had a life expectancy of 57.7. Of the 21 enforcers who were already deceased, 11 died of causes often linked to CTE. Of those 11 deaths, there were “three suicides, two drug overdoses, two neurodegenerative disorder deaths, and four car crashes.”
But there’s more. There’s this New York Times profile of former enforcer Chris Nilan, who estimates he was in more than 300 fights over the course of his NHL career, and is currently being studied by B.U.’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center, after years of addiction and anger issues. Here’s another on former enforcer Todd Ewan, who died by suicide before his 50th birthday, after suffering years of depression. Bob Probert died of a heart attack at 45, and was posthumously discovered to have been suffering from CTE. Steve Montador suffered 19 concussions while playing the role of enforcer in the NHL. He was found dead in his home at the age of 35, his brain said, after an autopsy, to have been “ravaged” by CTE. Here’s former enforcer Daniel Carcillo mourning his friend, Montador, and talking about the challenges of life after multiple concussions.
We don’t need fighting out of hockey because society is too soft to handle it, we need fighting out of hockey because it is literally killing people. And for what? To entertain the few remaining cavemen in the cheap seats who demand it? That’s the definition of callousness and cruelty.
All of this, of course, is easily obtainable information for anyone with 30 seconds and a Google search bar. But that’s not how Rodgers gets his information. Why spend time learning about anything when you are getting paid to spout off whatever you think sounds right to a TV audience that hangs on your every word?
Ethically, ESPN should probably have a fact-checker sitting on camera with Rodgers correcting his constant stream of misinformation, but expecting that from a show where the host refuses to wear sleeves is probably too much to ask. We can all speculate why ESPN allows this to continue, and I can already hear the MAGA crowd yelling “Free speech!” But free speech does not mean freedom from your speech being challenged, investigated, and corrected. Free speech also encompasses the freedom to respond to bad speech. Asking why anyone puts a microphone in front of Rodgers’ mouth hole at this point leads one to only the most craven of conclusions: Clicks.
So this holiday, I’m grateful for all the scientists, doctors, statisticians, researchers, and everyone else who conducts actual studies, backed up by empirical results and reviewed by their peers, who give us the tools to remind the world what an absolute galaxy-brained dolt Aaron Rodgers is. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Original source here
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