JOE NAMATH TACKLES ISSUES

Legendary Jets quarterback Joe Namath joins us to discuss topics ranging from taking a knee and protesting on the field to the silent killer affecting our former football greats.

Aired on October 19, 2017. 

TRANSCRIPT

> WOULDN'T YOU LOVE TO SEE ONE OF THESE NFL OWNERS WHEN SOMEBODY DISRESPECTED OUR FLAG TO SAY GET THE SON OF A BITCH OFF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW, OUT, HE'S FIRED?

HE'S FIRED!

PRESIDENT TRUMP PASSIONATELY RESPONDING TO NFL PLAYERS WHO HAVE BEEN PROTESTING ON THE FIELD DURING THE SINGING OF AMERICA'S NATIONAL ANTHEM.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

THE PRESIDENT SET OFF A FIRESTORM WHEN HE TOOK ON THE LEAGUE AND THEIR MOVEMENT.

SINCE HIS RESPONSE, PLAYERS AND ENTIRE TEAMS HAVE TAKEN PART BY EITHER TAKING A KNEE OR LOCKING ARMS ON THE FIELD.

INITIALLY STARTED BY COLIN KAEPERNICK, THE PROTEST WAS MEANT AS A SYMBOL AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY BUT NOW MORPHED INTO A STATEMENT OF DIRECT RESISTANCE AGAINST THE PRESIDENT AFTER HE WEIGHED IN ON THE TOPIC.

ROGER GOODELL ADDRESSED THE CONTROVERSY AFTER WEEKS OF IT SIMMERING.

WE BELIEVE EVERYONE SHOULD STAND FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM.

THAT'S AN IMPORTANT PART OF OR POLICY.

IT'S ALSO AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR GAME THAT WE ALL TAKE GREAT PRIDE IN.

AND IT'S ALSO IMPORTANT FOR US TO HONOR OUR FLAG AND TO OUR COUNTRY AND WE THINK OUR FANS EXPECT US TO DO THAT.

AMERICANS SEEM TO BE SPLIT OVER THE ISSUE WITH SOME SEEING THE PROTESTS AS UNPATRIOTIC FEELING THAT POLITICS HAS NO PLACE IN SPORTS, OTHERS EMBRACING IT.

FORMER NEW YORK JETS QUARTERBACK JOE NAMATH HAS DONE MORE THAN SITTING ON THE SIDELINES AS THIS ISSUE HAS BEEN PLAYING OUT ON AND OFF THE FIELD.

MY COHOST, RAFAEL PI ROMAN HAD A CHANCE TO CATCH UP WITH JOE TO DISCUSS THE CONTROVERSY AND A VARIETY OF OTHER TOPICS.

BUT FIRST, ANOTHER ISSUE SWEEPING THE NFL, BRAIN TRAUMA AS A RESULT OF THE GAME AND HOW GREAT A RISK IT IS FOR PLAYERS PAST AND PRESENT.

I CAN'T GO INTO NUMBERS.

I DON'T KNOW SPECIFICALLY.

BUT WHAT WE'RE DOING, WHAT I'M DOING, CONCUSSIONS, TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES, THEY'RE NOT REGULATED IN SPORTS.

AND THIS IS HOW I GOT INVOLVED.

I MEAN EVERY DAY A KID FALLS OFF OF THE BICYCLE, THERE'S AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT, A LADY GETS HURT, A GUY GETS HURT FALLING DOWN.

TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES HAPPEN EVERY DAY AND THERE'S OVER A COUPLE MILLION PEOPLE AT LEAST THAT HAVE THEM RIGHT NOW THAT CAN'T GET TREATMENT.

SO WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME INVOLVED IN THE FIGHT AGAINST THIS DISEASE?

WAS IS THERE A PERSONAL REASON?

ABSOLUTELY.

A TEAMMATE OF MINE FOR FOUR YEARS HAD COME TO A CAMP THAT A FRIEND OF MINE AND I HAVE AND HE'D COME TO US AND HE HAD BEEN TO EVERY CAMP FOR 30 YEARS.

AND HE WAS EXPRESSING HOW HE WAS HAVING SOME TROUBLE WITH HIS MEMORY, WITH FORGETTING TOO MANY THINGS.

AND THIS IS OVER A PERIOD OF THREE, FOUR YEARS.

AND I HONEST TO GOD SAW A TERROR IN HIS EYES, A FEAR.

HE WAS AFRAID.

NOW THIS GUY WAS NEVER AFRAID OF ANYTHING.

HE WAS A HECK OF A FOOTBALL PLAYER WITH THE JETS AND ALL.

AND I STARTED WONDERING, I KNOW I HAD A HANDFUL OF CONCUSSIONS, MINIMUM.

AND I PLAN REASON LIVING A WHILE AND I THINK I OWED IT TO MYSELF TO FIND OUT MY SITUATION.

FOR MY FAMILY AND CHILDREN.

WE STARTED A STUDY.

I TOOK COGNITIVE TESTS AND THEN I HAD MY FIRST BRAIN SCAN WHICH SHOWED DAMAGE TO THE LEFT TEMPORAL AND LEFT SIDE OF MY BRAIN.

CELLS WERE NOT GETTING THE BLOOD FLOW.

THEY WEREN'T WORKING.

THEY WERE DARK.

SO I WENT THROUGH A SERIES OVER SEVEN MONTHS AND CHANGE, 120 DYES TO BE EXACT IN A HYPERBARIC TREATMENT CHAMBER AND EVERY TIME I HAD A NEW COGNITIVE TEST AND BRAIN SCAN.

IT'S CALLED HIGHER BARIC OXYGEN THERAPY.

WHAT DOES IT DO AND WHAT DO YOU HOPE IT WILL ACCOMPLISH?

RUNNING THROUGH YOUR SYSTEM UNDER A PRESSUIZED ENVIRONMENT.

IT'S BEEN IN USE FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS.

OUR NAVY, THE S.E.A.L.s, YOU COME UP AFTER MAKING DIVES AND YOU GO IN THE PRESSURE CHAMBER AND THAT'S ONE OF THE WAY TO DECOMPRESS.

BUT THE USE OF OXYGEN TO HELP AILMENTS.

OBVIOUSLY THERE'S THIS PROMISING TREATMENT FOR FOOTBALL PLAYERS EXPERIENCING BRAIN INJURY.

BUT WHAT ABOUT PREVENTING BRAIN INJURY IN THE FIRST PLACE IN THE GAME OF FOOTBALL?

DO YOU THINK THAT'S POSSIBLE WITHOUT TRANSFORMING THE GAME COMPLETELY?

NO, SIR, RAPHAEL.

I'LL TELL YOU WHAT.

BRAIN IS FLOATING AROUND IN THERE AND IT'S GOING TO BOUNCE OFF OF THAT BONE IN THERE, CRANIUM, WHATEVER, WHETHER YOU FALL OFF OF A BICYCLE, WH WHETHER YOU MAKE AN ATTACK, GET HIT AS A QUARTERBACK, BOOK, THE BACK OF YOUR HEAD HITS THE GROUND, WHETHER THE GUY COMES ACROSS YOU.

WE'VE CHANGED THE RULE IN FOOTBALL FROM THE PROFESSIONAL LEVEL TO THE ELEMENTARY LEVEL.

ALL RIGHT?

WE'RE TRYING TO MAKE THE GAME SAFER.

BUT THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS, THE SPORT OF FOOTBALL IS A CONTACT SPORT.

AND YOU'RE GETTING HIT.

YOU'RE HITTING THE GROUND ALSO.

SO THERE'S GOING TO CONTINUE TO BE A WORRY ABOUT HEAD TRAUMA.

SO HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THOSE WHO SAY, LISTEN, THIS GAME IS JUST TOO VIOLENT FOR KIDS AND CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY IT?

WELL, IF KIDS KNEW OR IF THEY WERE MATURE ENOUGH TO MAKE A DECISION, OR IF THEY WERE LIKE ME IN A SENSE, I NEVER LIKED GETTING HIT FROM WHEN I WAS A LITTLE GUY, WHETHER IT BE DOUBLE DIGITS, SINGLE DIGITS AND EVEN THROUGH PROBALL, I DIDN'T ENJOY GETTING HIT.

THE THING IS CHILDREN CAN'T MAKE THAT DECISION.

THE PARENTS MAKE IT FOR THEM.

AND IT STARTS OUT FOR MOST OF US AT HOME, THE PARENTS INFLUENCE THE CHILDREN, GOOD AND NOT SO GOOD SOMETIMES.

BUT IT COMES FROM THE PARENTS, ESPECIALLY ON THE ELEMENTARY LEVEL.

MOST OF THE TIME THE PARENT WANTS THAT CHILD TO BE IN THERE GOING.

HE'S TOUGH.

YEAH, YEAH.

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THOSE PARENTS?

I WOULD SAY GIVE THEM TIME TO MATURE A LITTLE BIT MORE.

GIVE THEM TIME TO LET THE BONES, EVERYTHING ELSE GET BIGGER.

AND MAYBE BY THAT TIME YOU MIGHT NOT EVEN WANT TO PUT THEM THROUGH THE RIGORS OF FOOTBALL.

AGAIN, IT'S A CONTACT SPORT, MAN.

AND WHOEVER PLAYS IT IS GOING TO GET HURT.

IT MIGHT NOT BE A CONCUSSION, BUT THEY HAPPEN ALMOST ROUTINELY IN GAMES.

YOU KNOW, THIS DISEASE AND THE FACT THAT IT'S COME TO LIGHT HAS CAUSED, YOU KNOW, THE POPULARITY OF THE SPORT TO WANE A LITTLE BIT AS IS THE POLITICAL CONTROVERSY.

IF YOU WERE IN YOUR PRIME TODAY, WOULD YOU PLAY THE GAME OF FOOTBALL?

WE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT CONCUSSIONS.

I WOULD HAVE PLAYED BASEBALL AND STUCK TO BASEBALL IF I KNEW THE DANGERS OF THIS SPORT.

GETTING YOUR BELL RUNG WAS KIND OF LIKE, I'LL SHAKE IT OFF.

THAT'S ALL COACHES TELL YOU, GET SMELLING SALTS, GO BACK IN THERE.

YOU'RE TOUGH.

IT WAS A YOUNG PERSON'S GAME WHO WANTED TO BE A MAN.

WANTED TO BE STRONG.

WE WANTED TO GET OUT THERE AND PLAY.

IT'S TOUGH FOR US.

SO WOULD YOU -- SO YOU WOULDN'T PLAY IT AGAIN IF YOU KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON?

WELL, GIVEN THE SAME OPPORTUNITY AS WHEN I WAS A YOUNGER GUY, I HAD A CHANCE TO PLAY ANOTHER SPORT, YOU KNOW, PROFESSIONALLY.

SO KNOWING WHAT I KNOW TODAY WITH TWO ARTIFICIAL KNEES, ARTIFICIAL HIP, SEVERAL OPERATIONS HERE, THANK GOD NOT AN ORGAN, ALL OF THE ORGANS ARE HEALTHY.

I'M NOT COMPLAINING.

HOWEVER IT'S PHYSICAL AND THERE ARE INJURIES INVOLVED.

WHY DO YOU THINK IT TOOK SO LONG FOR THIS INJURY TO SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY?

IS IT BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE IGNORANT OR IS IT BECAUSE PEOPLE DIDN'T WANT IT TO SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY BECAUSE IT WOULD HURT THE GAME OF FOOTBALL?

WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT CONCUSSIONS, THEY'VE BEEN AROUND.

THE FEW REALISTIC ARE GUYS WHO HAVE BEEN GETTING HIT.

WHEN I WAS A KID I ASKED MY DADDY WHY THIS GUY BEHAVED THE WAY HE DID AND HE SAID, HE'S PUNCH DRUNK.

PUNCH DRUNK.

THAT'S WHAT THEY KNEW ABOUT GETTING IN THE HEAD SO MUCH BACK THEN.

NOW IT'S CHRONIC ENCEPHALOPATHY, THAT'S ANOTHER STORY.

THAT'S FAIRLY NEW, THE DISCOVERY.

AND WE'RE STILL WORKING ON HOW IT CAN AFFECT OR KILL PEOPLE.

BEFORE YOU HAD TO BE DECEASED BEFORE THEY COULD DETECT IT AND NOW THEY MAY BE ON TO A WAY TO DETECT IT EARLIER.

DOES TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES BRING THAT ON?

WE DON'T KNOW THAT.

BUT A HIGH PERCENTAGE, 90-PLUS PERCENT OF THE GUYS THEY'VE EXAMINED THAT HAVE BEEN DECEASED HAD IT, THAT WERE FOOTBALL PLAYERS, YES.

98% OR SO.

YOU KNOW, JOE, THE POPULARITY OF FOOTBALL HAS BEEN WANING OF LATE, SOME ARGUE IT'S BECAUSE OF THIS ISSUE, REALIZING HOW DAMAGING THE GAME CAN BE.

THEY DON'T LIKE IT AS MUCH.

THE OTHER REASON, THE TAKING OF THE KNEE DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM.

WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THAT?

I BELIEVE IN STANDING FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM.

I BELIEVE IN HONORING OUR FLAG AND OUR COUNTRY CERTAINLY.

THE KNEE STANCE WAS TAKEN IN THE FIRST PLACE AS A SUBMISSION KIND OF MOVE, AS A RESPECTFUL KIND OF MOVE, NOT BY COLIN KAEPERNICK INITIALLY.

IT WAS A TEAMMATE, ERIC REID THAT DECIDED, YOU KNOW WHAT?

THIS IS OUR FLAG.

WE GOT TO SHOW SOME RESPECT.

LET'S DO IT.

AND THAT'S THEIR WAY OF HUMBLY SHOWING RESPECT YET REBELLED THE OPPRESSION THEY FEEL THAT IS GOING ON.

BUT I PERSONALLY WILL STAND FOREVER FOR THIS FLAG AND OUR COUNTRY.

WELL, JOE, THANKS SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME AND THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE WORK YOU'RE DOING TO FIGHT THIS REALLY TERRIBLE DISEASE.

I'M JUST A THANKFUL MAN.

THANK GOD EVERY DAY SEVERAL TIMES AND I HOPE WE CAN FIND MORE HELP FOR PEOPLE WITH TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES.

THANK YOU, SIR.

THANK YOU, RAPHAEL.

Funders

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