NFL Player Paralyzed, Video Games Get Slammed... Huh?

September 12, 2007 -
When Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett suffered paralysis on Sunday following a big hit, it was a personal and professional tragedy.

But football injuries are common - that's why the NFL maintains an Injured Reserve List - and even crippling ones such as Everett's are not unheard of (see: Darryl Stingley, Dennis Byrd and others). In fact, in the early part of the 20th Century, President Theodore Roosevelt threatened to outlaw the sport due to the number of deaths among college players. Ultimately, helmets, other equipment and rule changes helped make football less deadly.

So GP was surprised to see Virginia Pilot columnist Bob Molinaro drag video games into a discussion of Everett's injury under the headline Video-game generation may be desensitized to NFL injuries:
I imagine there's a large segment of NFL fans that envisions pro football to be the embodiment of the video games they love to play.

...I've got a feeling that a certain percentage of males, those whose senses have been bombarded by video violence all their lives, are attracted to pro football by the slickly edited TV images that are a variation of their virtual-reality experiences.

This makes me wonder if the catastrophic injury to Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett will make any real impression on the desensitized adolescents and adults raised with the cartoon violence of "Madden '08" or "NFL Blitz," or the absurd blood-and-guts scenarios associated with other Xbox games.

...I wonder if any of this hits home with the very large and growing demographic that comes to football through the make-believe violence of video games. In that world, jacked-up players always bounce back, returning as good as new when the game is switched on.

GP: The invention of American football preceded that of video games by roughly 100 years, and it's always been a dangerous sport. Participants opt in knowing that they risk injury. Relating what happened to Kevin Everett to folks playing Madden is simply ludicrous. Molinaro comes off looking like just another guy who doesn't get gamers.

Meanwhile, the latest reports we've seen indicate that Kevin Everett is doing much better and we wish him all the best.

Comments

Oh, did meathead hurt himself? Too bad he didn't take one of those more think-y career paths or something with some semblance of career longevity. I guess he'll just have to settle for being a millionaire cripple. Yeah, I guess you could call me desensitized to meathead's injury, but believe me it has nothing to do with the video games.

This country (planet?) is way too vested in sports. I find it hilarious that all these hardcore skinhead republican types love their football so much... since nine roided-out guys piling up on each other is just about the gayest thing ever.

On the subject of the columnist: He's either a placating opportunist, which I think is the more likely scenario... or he's fucking nuts. I hate football as much as he (apparently) does but seriously, isn't it safer to have a bunch of pixels collide than a bunch of HGH-infused 350 pound psychos? The latter is just asking for trouble, while the former might just get you a red ring of death.

@ Novacat:
"Which only means…someone needs to get Oprah a Wii."

For some reason, I would bet that she has one already. I don't know why.

...might have something to do with the large castle made out of money that she probably has somewhere.

But yeah. I hope that if/when she speaks out on the subject, it's after doing some proper research.

Regarding the article, it really is insulting. I don't care for football one whit, but when I learned about Everett's injury on the news a couple days ago, I felt awful. As plenty of other GAMERS here have said, NO ONE wishes that sort of thing on anyone else, and we're ALL horrified by the implications.

Does some asshat quarterback who treats people like dirt deserve to slip in the MUD, or get his Porsche towed? Sure, I'd laugh at that. Career-ending, life-altering injuries? Never, no matter how much I didn't care for the guy.

Drawing the parallel was recklessly and slanderously gratuitous. It was completely uncalled for, and I would hope for (but don't really expect) some sort of retraction or apology, citing the baselessness for the comparison.

Yes, because the first thing I think of when I play my "absurd blood and guts" scenarios is the Kevin Everett's of the world: rich, college graduated athletes that voluntarily choose to play their sports. Not the 3,700 dead and thousands of disfigured soldiers in Iraq, a good number of which are failed athletes with only a high school education.

Oh, looks like I just pulled a Bob Molinaro.

@ ekim1086

I think you give them too little credit. Especially Larouche. Do yourself a favor and never read anything he wrote.

His point about how ESPN and the NFL both try and use footballs violence as a selling point but at the same time push the unsavoury consequences (such as when true tragedy strikes on the field, or the shocking details of the premature decline of long time players in their 50s and 60s) under the rug is a reall valid one and well reasoned. What doesnt make sense is how he tries to shoehorn video games into the discussion. Notice how even he realizes that he doesnt know why hes putting that in there - he starts almost every mention of video gamers with some variation on 'I imagine that', 'I wonder if', 'I have a feeling that'. If anything he has the whole situation backwards, the more reprehensible people are the coporate interests who package the danger for mass consumption or the people who only watch football or highlight reels of sports injuries (though i really doubt that thats such a huge portion of people) because they are watching real human beings get hurt, at least people who are playing videogames for the same reasons are doing so in a world that clearly is fantasy and with fantasy players.

His argument is much stronger without ever mentioning video games and the fact that he felt he had to shoehorn then in as some sort of cultural boogeyman causing the problems is lamentable and just shows how out of touch he is. But hes a sports columnist, so i guess its easier to blame the problems he sees in his sport on an outside cultural influence even as he is writing an article exposing it in his own sport, because then he can go to sleep at night without having to feel that he is part of the problem for covering (and thus to a certain extent promoting) football.

Just to mention, i am a long-time football fan and i dont think its a terrible sport or something but i do think some of the recent media trends have been playing to the base impulses of humanity and i watch a lot less of it now then i used to (back int he heyday i used to watch ESPN a whole lot to follow the sunday's events).

On behalf of humanity (which, to make clear, I am hardly optimistic about), I feel compelled to let you know that you insulted just about anyone with a pulse with your editorial at the end. Even someone who was brainswashed by the original article could work out for themselves what to make of it in this context.

No offense, natch, I'm just taking out my anger about this heartless hack on you.

Everyone's pretty much covered the major points, but I just want to encourage everyone to write this guy and let him know (in a civil manner) just how off-base his remarks are. I already did, and I've found that writing journalists garners a far better response rate than say, politicians and imitation lawyers.

@Zigs:

Jesus H. Christ man, they're football players, not drug lords.

I am from Virginia Beach, and that was in my local paper... This is part of what I wrote to Mr Molinaro: "Your article tells me that you want to screen everything a person sees,hears, or does and evaluate it to make sure noone can get hurt from it. This kind of sheltered thinking will lead to many unintended consequences and censorship. If anything, I believe you care less about the well being of the players and wanted to write something sensational for the exposure. I think you have accomplished that because I did read the article, but it will be the last I read written by you. "

Oh ya, its videogames fault.... guess this guys never seen the movie Any Given Sunday where the guys eyeball pops out of his head after getting hit. The gene pool keeps thinning and thinning.

Wow another reason why the human race is on thin ice with me.

I'm not an American, but I'm under the impression that you won't see a 16 year old American walk into a store, pick up Madden and think 'Hmm, this 'foot-ball' thing looks quite decent, how come I've never heard of it before?'.

This dude seriously needs to get smacked with the clue by four. Good grief.

At first, I thought to myself "Good heavens, GP used 'WTF' in a headline, how unprofessional!"

Then I read the story. WTF.

GP: yeah, I wavered on WTF... still am, in fact. don't be surprised if it disappears...

Ya, video games paralyze football players. Whats next, a driving simulator causes drunk driving?

Well, the best response we can give to columnist Bob Molinaro is that we feel a lot of sympathy for Kevin Everett, and that his injury affects us, no matter which games we play and how long.

I may try to write Mr. Molinaro tonight.

Must be a really slow news day if they have room in the paper to publish this guy...

Bob Molinaro is a tool and is using the situation to try to earn himself some notoriety.

it's an insult to gamers, football fans, Kevin Everett and the people who are close to him.

---

We don't care about Kevin Everett? Who is writing the article exploiting his accident?

The article reads to me like the columnist is trying to point out how dangerous real football is. He also mentions that the real damages to the football players is downplayed by professional sports' franchises because it's a "bad image." Video games really do a lot to help the NFL hide the dangerous nature of football.

So I read the article more as a plea to remember the people in football rather than their fame and statistics. I actually don't disagree with him. The other truth he glosses over is that spectators hope to see grotesque injuries replayed over and over, because it plays to the violent nature of humans. For example, many NASCAR fans love to see a good wreck, especially if the driver walks away from it. When they don't, they become martyrs, practically.

In a way, the article seems to address the guilt the columnist feels about being a sports commentator, and that's admirable.

@Robb,

i disagree with your position, but see how you could come to such a conclusion.

as stands, i've left the article a comment to show my displeasure with how tactlessly it was written.

'raised with the cartoon violence of “Madden ‘08? or “NFL Blitz,” or the absurd blood-and-guts scenarios associated with other Xbox games.'

Ha ha, how can an adult write such tripe without going red in the face? These video-game haters seem to have a set of stock phrases that they use increasingly liberally. I am from the UK but I would think these football players are athletes of a high standard, not some child who played Madden and thought he would take a pop at superbowl fame.

I think any fan would be aware of the physical risks involved in the sport, perhaps they play Madden to avoid those risks for themselves. I feel for my fellow gamers in the US, if this is the stage at which the video-game witchhunt has got to.

Actually, I'm not desensitized to violence, I jsut could care less as I freakin hate football players and the sport entirely.

My problem is he treats football fans like they're just gore loving maniacs who only want to watch football in hopes it will be as violent as the games they love.

I remember hearing about it on the news, and I felt bad for the guy, and I play some disturbed games. Just not sports games. So how would a fan of both football and football games feel when some guy classifies them as a group so desensitized to violence, that this event is just a roadbump?

Wait... weren't there a whole bunch of videos released years ago filled with nothing but amazing sporting injuries and mishaps? Couldn't it be that people are now used to football players being injured? Crikey.

Not trying to make fun the tragedy for the injured player, but in response to the article: If only they had all played Madden&Co instead of doing it live..everyone would be happy and healthy, 'cept those who argue against videogames.

Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.

He's concerned that not enough people were concerned about Everett's injury? What's he looking for, a national moment of silence? Some money? What? This is wracking my brain here.

While in general I agree with what you guys are saying - here is another guy pimping up video game violence as some co-conspirator in the overall reaction to this tragedy.

But I have a question - a genuine one.
- Does anyone here know what the local reaction has been like? I was a teen working at Schaeffer Stadium at the time of Stingley's injury (though it was an away game), and remember how that story gripped the area for quite a while.

I am not saying that equivalence should be a metric of whether or not to blame video games - if anything I would attribute it to the ultra-fast media cycle.

"…I wonder if any of this hits home with the very large and growing demographic that comes to football through the make-believe violence of video games. In that world, jacked-up players always bounce back, returning as good as new when the game is switched on."

1. I seriously doubt very many people come to football through videogames. If anything, it's the other way around.

2. I haven't played Madden seriously, or Blitz at all, but I have played more than ten franchise seasons of NFL 2K5. In fact, it's probably closer to twenty. In that game at least, "jacked-up players" don't always bounce back. Season-ending injuries are common, and from time to time, the duration of an injury is listed as "career". I remember wincing the first time I encountered that one (and it wasn't even a player on my own team, so I didn't have the emotional investment you can get to a good player, even in a videogame).

In closing: if you think playing football is too dangerous, by all means work towards making it safer, or outlawing it, or whatever you prefer (personally, I'd start with boxing, but that's just me). But at least recognize that it's the sport that's the problem, not electronic representations of it.

@ Michael Anderson

Adding to your comment, over time, the players and the game itself has evolved, players have gotten faster and stronger, and the game has become a full-time job between off-season conditioning and mini-camps in between the Super Bowl and the opening of training camps.

Whoh - at the risk of arguing devil"s advocate, I don't think he's blaming video games for anything; Reading that quote - it sounds to me more like he's simply speculating about whether or not we (gamers) perceive tragedies like this in the same kind of way.

Granted, that's a silly proposition in and of itself. Regardless of what Jack Thompson may have said, gamers are not instantly perverted into twisted, evil creatures who delight in the pain of others, (and to borrow a line from Yahtzee), who's very piss is pure malevolence. It's not like we're all huddling around Tivos watching the poor guy get hurt over and over again.

It seems to me like a more appropriate question for him to ask would've been regarding densensitization (sp?) to violence as a whole, or if these kinds of player injuries have the same effect now that they did 20 years ago, or even 10.

We should all blame videogames that this man got hurt playing a sport that is inherently dangerous.

Also, if you're parachuting and your chute fails? Videogames did it.

I think it's pretty obvious what is going on here.
What better way to get your name out there than to create controversy where there was none?
That's really the only reason to stomp all over human logic in order to bash video games for something that has absolutely nothing to do with them.

A sports columnist writing about social trends = ugly, low quality journalism. Molinaro needs to stick to writing the mundane, two dimensional, uninteresting articles about sports.

Wait......what? that article HAD to be fake!......right?

It seems like the writer has his cause and effect order mixed up.

Sports inspired the creation of sports video games not the other way around.

This has GOT to be like... one step below "He was severely injured, and paralyzed, because you touch yourself at night".

Seriously, besides Jack Thompson, who's buying this?

People have been attracted to sports where other people are injured long before videogames. Heck, people are still attracted to rodeo and bullfighting, sports where the point is putting the contestants in danger.

Anybody else notice that JT hasn't chimed in on this one. He must be having a hard time chasing that ambulance.

/shurg

I had a long post but figured that sumed up my view of the above writer and his bandwagon opinion.

@Michael Anderson -- I don't live in the Buffalo area, so I don't really know what the reaction there is like. I'm a Patriots fan. I hate the Bills. And I really was saddened to see this happen to a player. No real fan of football wants to see a serious injury happen. Ever. I was happy when his surgeon expressed optimism that he'd walk again, and it sounds like he was able to move his limbs yesterday. (It sounds like they used some new procedure to reduce the damage to the spine -- very cool.) He will never play football again, and that's a shame, but there are far more important things in life than football. This guy could have died on the field.

ESPN has been treating this story very well.

Dennis -- add Mike Utley to your list. That was a horrific, freak injury that happened during a Thanksgiving game. David Pollack also broke his neck last year while playing for the Bengals -- no paralysis but a promising career is over.

And I'll repeat this for the dumbass who wrote this column: NO REAL FOOTBALL FAN WANTS TO SEE A SERIOUS INJURY.

@Dennis

He's been quiet for a couple days. Count your blessings.

@Dennis McCarthy

Ambulacne? Nooo, he's waiting for the hearse.

Wasn't the same argument used over the 3 Stooges years ago? There were concerns that they would convince kids that you can bounce back from injuries. Thats why you can't find the Stooges on broadcast TV these days...

And middle aged white reporters slam Mixed Martial Arts for being violent and dangerous.

There has never been a single death or major injury in a sanctioned MMA bout, while boxing and Football are given a free ride by the media.

There is something I don't get, though, when people talk about how video games desensitized people to violence" or whatever. Isn't that...kind of a good thing?

Let's face it, the world is a violent, brutal place. If I had a child, I'd rather have him understand and get used to that fact, rather than constantly protecting him, only for him to find out the truth in shock.

There's a difference between being "desensitized" and supporting violence. The former is good to certain extents, because, as said, the world is brutal, it's violent, and it's war-ridden, so better to be desensitized so you can handle this fact, while the latter is different. The latter means you support violence, or that you'd willingly participate, yourself, or you get off on it in some way (I mean, in real life). And that's bad.

Bob Molinaro, you win the ever-coveted "the1jeffy's asshat award." While normally reserved for activist groups and pandering politicians, I am proud to announce that sport columnists are now a sub-category!

Bob Molinaro, you are an asshat extraordinaire.

To even think for a second that gamers are somehow made 'immune' to such a freak, horrific accident is asshattery defined. Look, football is about big hits, but also about learning to take them and dish them out in such a way to keep playing. When Everett went down, the stadium was silent (from what I've read - I wasn't there). How many gamers were in the audience? No laughs, no jeers, no catcalls - just DEAD, STUNNED SILENCE. So, Molinaro, I humbly submit that you STFU.

Local Coverage:
http://www.wivb.com/Global/story.asp?S=7048384&nav=menu41_1
(video wouldn't run in Firefox, only IE)

I hope that the initial reports of Everett's likely recovery are not just wishful thinking. Here's to his recovery! /cheer

Oh. My. God. So... is it just me? Or did this guy just disprove evolution?

A guy gets injured in a terrible accident while playing football. Let's blame video games. Did you know that video games caused the fall of Rome? Video games caused the Holocaust. Oh, and Katrina, too!

I really, really hope no one is buying this garbage. I love to play video games, some of them violent, but I have NO INTEREST in football one way or the other. Despite my total lack of interest in the sport, I do feel bad for Kevin Everett. No one should have to suffer and potentially being paralyzed is terrible.

@ Nekowolf

I don't think many people think that being desensitized to violence is a good thing. But if we aren't a little desensitized we'd all gag at the sight of blood or vomit (personally I can't stand the smell of the latter).

You're right, though. I never really thought of it, but a little desensitization is a good thing, and its completely different from enjoying hurting your fellow man. I may enjoy beating my buddies in a video game, but I'd never intentionally injure them (A lot of them owe me money).

Huh? Whadafxup with this? Last time I checked, Madden was not cartoonish violence. NFL Blitz, maybe. But in Madden, when a dude gets hit and knocked out for the season, he's out for the season. Period. That's why it's a SIMULATION. Sometimes, rarely, but sometimes, it can even end their careers.

----
Papa Midnight

I wonder if any of this hits home with the very large and growing demographic that comes to football through the make-believe violence of video games. In that world, jacked-up players always bounce back, returning as good as new when the game is switched on

So explain to me why my QB who was hit in All Pro Football 2K8 was put out for 8 weeks from a crushig hit?

Also, I don't see the connection between enjoying video games and watching football. I played video games my whole life, even some fotball games, but never have I ever felt the desire to watch a football game.

No this injury, that could possibly kill him and leave him permanently debilitated, doesn't hit home at all.

Sure I have a friend paralyzed from the waist down after he was hit by some drunk asshole, I don't feel sorry for this guy at all because we all know sports stars are somehow immune and all just jump right back. I mean I know my first thought when I saw the story wasn't "Man I hope this guy can walk again." I mean come on, video games are real right?


Asshole.

There was totally no steroid use before Blitz: The League came out. It's all that game's fault.
 
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