TONIGHT ON METROFOCUS

An investigation found that New York City Housing Authority officials lied to the feds about apartment inspections. The lies left children sick, and residents are furious. New York City Council Member Ritchie Torres is here with the details and next steps. What’s in a name? A movement by angry New Yorkers is calling for the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge to return to the Hudson River crossing’s old moniker, the Tappan Zee Bridge. The person behind this movement and a change.org petition, Monroe Mann, is here to explain. From taking a knee in protest on the field, to a silent killer affecting our former football greats, legendary Jets quarterback Joe Namath is here with insights into football life, the traumatic injuries that may come with it, and life lived in the public eye.

Aired on December 19, 2017. 

TRANSCRIPT

> WHAT'S IN A NAME?

EVERYTHING IF YOU ARE THE FORMER TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE NOW NAMED AFTER GOVERNOR MARIO CUOMO.

A MOVEMENT IS NOW UNDER WAY BY ANGRY NEW YORKERS WHO WANT THE BRIDGE RETURNED TO ITS FORMER NAME.

THE MAN BEHIND THE PUSH IS HERE TO EXPLAIN WHY.

> AND FROM TAKING A KNEE IN PROTEST TO A SILENT KILLER AFFECTING FORMER PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYERS, LEGENDARY JETS QUARTERBACK JOE NAMATH IS HERE WITH INSIGHTS INTO A LIFE IN FOOTBALL AND THE TRAUMATIC INJURIES THAT MAY COME WITH IT.

ALL THAT AND MORE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪ ♪♪

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY --

THAT'S WHAT THEY DID, THEY CAME AND DID A VISUAL INSPECTION, HAD A THAT WAS IT.

BUT YOU DON'T KNOW OF AN X-RAY THAT'S BEEN DONE.

NO NONE OF THAT.

NONE OF THAT.

SO HOW DO I KNOW THAT MY SON IS STILL SAFE LIVING IN THIS APARTMENT?

THAT WAS OUTRAGED NEW YORKER AND MOTHER SHARON PAGE WHOSE FOUR-YEAR-OLD SON SUFFERS FROM APPARENT LEAD POISONING SYMPTOMS THAT SHE BELIEVES HE DEVELOPED AS A RESULT OF LIVING IN THEIR APARTMENT.

GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS,' I'M JACK FORD.

RECENTLY WE TOLD YOU ABOUT THE SHOCKING COVERUP INSIDE THE NEW YORK CITY HOUSING AUTHORITY THAT WAS SO EGREGIOUS IT SPARKED A PUBLIC HEARING, THAT HEARING DREW ONLOOKERS FROM ACROSS THE TRI-STATE.

THE PUBLIC AGENCY NOT ONLY FAILED TO INSPECT SOME 55,000 HOUSING UNITS FOR LEAD PAINT, BUT THEN APPARENTLY LIED ABOUT IT.

AND WHEN THEY FINALLY FACED THE MUSIC, FRUSTRATED RESIDENTS AND THE CITY COUNCIL OVERWHELMINGLY VOICED THEIR QUESTIONS AND THEIR CONCERNS.

SO WHAT IS NEXT FOR THE EMBATTLED AGENCY?

WE'RE HAPPY TO HAVE BACK WITH US THE MAN WHO LED THE HEARING, NEW YORK CITY COUNCILMAN RICHIE TORRES.

ALWAYS NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US AND WE ALWAYS SEEM TO HAVE A LOT TO TALK WITH YOU ABOUT.

IT'S AN HONOR TO BE HERE.

YOU AND I GOT TOGETHER A COUPLE WEEKS AGO AND WE TALKED ABOUT WHAT WAS -- WHAT HAD BEEN TAKING PLACE AND WE TALKED ABOUT THE ANTICIPATION OF THE HEARING.

THE HEARING TOOK PLACE, THEY WERE INDEED RIVETING.

WHEN WATCHING IT I THINK PEOPLE WERE FASCINATED ON SO MANY LEVELS BY WHAT WAS TAKING PLACE.

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT A COUPLE OF ISSUES HERE AND SEE WHAT YOUR REACTIONS WERE TO THEM NOW AFTER THE HEARING.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT YOU SAID YOU WANTED TO HOPEFULLY GET ANSWERS ABOUT IS HOW IT WAS THAT SOME 55,000 UNITS WOULD BE IGNORED AND PEOPLE WOULD NOT DO WHAT THE LAW MANDATED.

DID YOU FIND ANY ANSWERS TO THAT?

IT REMAINS UNCLEAR TO ME BECAUSE WE ARE NOT SPEAKING ABOUT ONE INSPECTION AND ONE APARTMENT, THAT'S A STAFF LEVEL DECISION, RIGHT, BUT SOMEONE IN THE HIERARCHY OF THE NEW YORK CITY HOUSING AUTHORITY MADE A DECISION TO SUSPEND 55,000 LEAD SAFETY INSPECTIONS.

THIS IS NOT A SITUATION WHERE ONE INSPECTOR SAID I'M GOING TO TAKE THE AFTERNOON OFF AND GO PLAY GOLF SO I'M NOT GOING TO DO THIS.

SO DID YOU GET ANSWERS INTO --

WHO HAD THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE THE DECISION, WHO POSSIBLY MADE THE DECISION AND INSTEAD OF ANSWERING THE QUESTION CLEARLY, THE TESTIMONY OF THE CHAIRPERSON WAS LARGELY DEFENSIVE AND EVASIVE AND LACKING IN CONTRITION AND I FOUND IT TO BE UNACCEPTABLE.

YOU ALSO WANTED TO GET SOME ANSWERS ABOUT THE FACT THAT -- FIRST YOU HAVE FAILURE TO INSPECT.

YEAH.

AND THEN YOU HAVE DOCUMENTATION THAT WAS CLEARLY FALSE, TRYING TO CONTEND THAT, YES, THIS ALL WAS DONE -- OR COVERING UP THE FACT THAT IT WASN'T DONE.

DID YOU GET ANSWERS TO HOW AND WHY THAT HAD HAPPENED?

IN FACT, WHEN I ASKED THE CHAIRPERSON WHEN DID YOU LEARN OF THE FALSE CERTIFICATION, SHE FIRST SAID SHE COULDN'T RECALL, SHE THEN SAID SHE FIRST LEARNED OF IT SOMETIME IN 2017.

BUT HOW COULD IT BE THAT YOU LEARNED OF IT IN 2017 WHEN YOU FILED ONE OF THOSE FALSE CERTIFICATIONS IN THE FALL OF 2016?

SO THERE WERE CONTRADICTIONS IN THE TESTIMONY.

THE VALUE OF THE HEARING LIES IN CRYSTALLIZING FOR THE PUBLIC THAT THE LAYERS AND LAYERS OF FALSEHOOD AND FAILURE AT THE NEW YORK CITY HOUSING AUTHORITY.

WE FOUND OUT FROM THE DOI REPORT THAT NYCHA HAS BEEN OUT OF COMPLIANCE WITH LEAD SAFETY LAWS FROM 2011 -- FROM 2012 TO 2016.

WE THEN FOUND OUT THAT NYCHA HAD BEEN FALSELY CERTIFYING LEAD SAME FOUR YEARS.

WHEN NYCHA RESUMED LEAD SAFETY INSPECTIONS THE INSPECTIONS WERE DONE BY NYCHA EMPLOYEES WHO DID NOT HAVE THE PROPER TRAINING OR CERTIFICATION.

IT SOUNDS LIKE IT WAS A RUSH.

EXACTLY.

LET'S GET SOME OF THESE ON THE BOOKS.

AND THE INSPECTIONS, THE ACTUAL ABATEMENTS, THE CLEANUP OF THE LEAD WAS DONE BY NYCHA EMPLOYEES WITHOUT THE PROPER TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION REQUIRED BY THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY.

SO THERE WERE SIMPLY LAYERS AND LAYERS OF FAILURE AND THEN THE CHAIRPERSON TESTIFIED BEFORE THE CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE UNDER OATH IN MARCH OF 2016 THAT THE HOUSING AUTHORITY WAS IN COMPLIANCE WITH LOCAL LAW 1, THE LEAD SAFETY LAW.

SHE THEN FOUND OUT WITHIN A MATTER OF WEEKS THAT THAT STATEMENT WAS FALSE AND INSTEAD OF SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT, SHE LEFT UNCORRECTED A STATEMENT THAT SHE MADE, A FALSE STATEMENT THAT SHE MADE BEFORE THE CITY COUNCIL UNDER OATH ON THE PUBLIC RECORD.

THAT'S UNACCEPTABLE.

DID SHE SAY WHY?

SHE GAVE NOTHING BUT EVASIVE ANSWERS AND FINALLY ACKNOWLEDGED THAT SHE SHOULD HAVE SAID MORE SOONER, BUT IT'S NOT SIMPLY A FAILURE OF SAYING MORE SOONER.

IT'S A FAILURE TO TELL THE TRUTH.

IT'S A FAILURE TO PROVIDE TRUTHFUL TESTIMONY TO THE CITY COUNCIL AND A FAILURE NOT TO FILE FALSE CERTIFICATIONS WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

YOU HAD MENTIONED BEFORE THAT THERE WERE SOME INVESTIGATIONS THAT COULD BE POTENTIALLY CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS.

ARE THEY CONTINUING?

IN ADDITION TO THE HOUSING AUTHORITY THE DOI COMMISSION, THE DEPARTMENT OF INVESTIGATIONS CAME BEFORE MY COMMITTEE AND CONFIRMED THAT THE INVESTIGATIONS ARE ONGOING.

MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, THE U.S.

ATTORNEY'S OFFICE IS FINALIZING ITS INVESTIGATION AND WILL EVENTUALLY COME OUT WITH A REPORT THAT WILL DOCUMENT ALL THE FAILURES AT THE NEW YORK CITY HOUSING AUTHORITY AND IT COULD BE MUCH BROADER THAN LEAD SAFETY.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU, AND I THINK THIS IS SOMETHING THAT THE PUBLIC WOULD BE EXTREMELY INTERESTED IN.

ARE YOU CONFIDENT THAT AT LEAST NOW MOVING FORWARD THAT THESE PROBLEMS ARE GOING TO BE DEALT WITH?

IT MIGHT TAKE SOME TIME, BUT THAT YOU WILL GET THE APPROPRIATE INSPECTIONS AND THE APPROPRIATE ABATEMENT PROCEDURES WILL BE TAKING PLACE?

NO, NOT WITHOUT AN INDEPENDENT MONITOR.

THE INDEPENDENT MONITOR IS THE ONLY HOPE FOR BRINGING REAL TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY TO THE NEW YORK CITY HOUSING AUTHORITY.

NYCHA HAS SHOWN THAT IT CANNOT BE TRUSTED TO COMPLY WITH THE LAW ON ITS OWN AND IT CANNOT BE TRUSTED TO REPORT HONESTLY ON ITS COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAW.

SO FOR ME THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR AN INDEPENDENT MONITOR AS THE TRUEST SOURCE OF ACCOUNTABILITY.

COUNCILMAN RICHIE TORRES, IT'S ALWAYS HELPFUL TO HAVE YOU HERE.

YOU DO A MARVELOUS JOB OF DEALING WITH THESE ISSUES AND EXPLAINING THEM ALL TO US, SO WE APPRECIATE YOUR SPENDING TIME WITH US AND OBVIOUSLY WE WILL PROBABLY BE TALKING WITH YOU SOON ABOUT ALL OF THIS.

AND THE INVESTIGATION IS CONTINUING SO STAY TUNED.

YOU BE WELL.

THANK YOU.

♪♪

> HI, I'M MATT RYAN IN ALBANY.

BY NOW YOU'VE HEARD ABOUT THE CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING THE NAME OF THE NEW BRIDGE THAT CONNECTS WEST CHESTER AND ROCKLAND COUNTY.

THE NEW SPAN TO REPLACE THE OLD TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE WAS NAMED AFTER THE LATE GOVERNOR MARIO CUOMO.

BUT THE PROCESS OF HOW THAT NAME CHANGE CAME TO BE AND THE FACT THAT IT WAS CHANGED AT ALL, HAS CAUSED A LOT OF ANGER FOR RESIDENTS IN THE LOWER HUDSON VALLEY.

IN THE WEE HOURS ON THE LAST DAY OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION THE STATE ASSEMBLY WAS FINISHING UP PASSING THE LAST BATCH OF BILLS.

ONE OF WHICH WOULD DO SOMETHING THAT HAD BEEN RUMORED FOR A WHILE, A RENAMING OF THE TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE TO HONOR ANDREW CUOMO'S FATHER.

I WANT TO AT LEAST STAND AND RECOGNIZE THE ENORMOUS CONTRIBUTIONS MADE BY MARIO CUOMO WHO WAS A HERO OF MINE AND I'M PROUD THAT THIS BRIDGE WILL BEAR HIS NAME.

I JUST DON'T THINK THAT IT'S AN APPROPRIATE THING TO DO TO TAKE A BRIDGE THAT IS WELL KNOWN, WELL REGARDED, WELL RESPECTED NAME ON THAT BRIDGE AND STRIP IT FOR WHAT APPEARS TO BE AND CERTAINLY LOOKS LIKE EGO.

THE NAME CHANGE WAS A SMALL PART OF AN OMNIBUS BILL THAT PASSED AROUND 1:00 A.M. IN THE ASSEMBLY.

NORMALLY A NAME CHANGE TO A BRIDGE DOESN'T CAUSE TOO MUCH CONTROVERSY.

IT'S BEEN DONE A NUMBER OF TIMES IN NEW YORK CITY IN RECENT YEARS.

THE BROOKLYN BATTERY TUNNEL WAS RENAMED FOR FORMER GOVERNOR HUGH CAREY, THE QUEENSBORO BRIDGE WAS CHANGED TO HONOR ED KOCH AND THE TRI-BORROW WAS TECHNICALLY CALLED THE ROBERT F. KENNEDY BRIDGE.

IN AUGUST THE CELEBRATION WAS HELD DURING THE OPENING OF THE FIRST SPAN OF THIS NEW BRIDGE, NOW WITH A NEW NAME.

THE GOVERNOR, MARIO CUOMO BRIDGE.

I THINK I WILL SAY IT AGAIN.

DOESN'T THAT SOUND GOOD, MATILDA?

THE GOVERNOR MARIO M. CUOMO BRIDGE.

MY FATHER DOES SMILE DOWN ON US FOR WE TOGETHER HAVE DARED TO DREAM ONCE AGAIN AND WE TOGETHER HAVE WORKED HARD TO TURN THOSE DREAMS INTO REALITY AND WE HAVE SUCCEEDED.

FORMER GOVERNOR MALCOLM WILSON HAD HIS NAME ADDED TO THE ORIGINAL BRIDGE IN 1994, BUT IT HAS COMMONLY BEEN REFERRED TO AS THE TAPPAN ZEE.

CHANGE HAS BEEN MET WITH SOME RESISTANCE.

A SIENNA POLL THIS SUMMER FOUND NEARLY HALF OF THOSE SURVEYED OPPOSED THE MOVE.

MONROE MANN JR. FITS INTO THAT CATEGORY.

THERE ARE SO MANY REASONS WHY THIS SHOULDN'T BE THE MARIO CUOMO BRIDGE.

MANN, A WEST CHESTER COUNTY NATIVE WAS SO BOTHERED BY THE NAME CHANGE THAT HE STARTED A PETITION AT CHANGE.ORG ABOUT A MONTH AGO AND THE RESPONSE HAS BEEN SIGNIFICANT.

HOLLIS WRITES I'M SICK OF LANDMARKS BEING NAMED FOR POLITICIANS, WE'RE LOSING THE HISTORY AND SENSE OF PLACE.

MARY SNYDER WRITES, IT'S THE TAPPAN ZEE, KEEP POLITICS AWAY FROM ITS GIVEN NAME.

AFTER JUST A LITTLE OVER A MONTH MORE THAN 102,000 PEOPLE HAVE SIGNED ON.

BEFORE I KNOW IT WE BLEW PAST 7,000, BLEW PAST 10,000, 40,000, THE JOURNAL NEWS GOT INVOLVED, CBS, ALL THE OTHER MEDIA AND IT SURPASSED 100,000.

I THINK IT CLEARLY SENDS A MESSAGE THAT WHAT HAPPENED WAS DONE WITHOUT INPUT FROM THE PUBLIC.

THIS WAS LIKE A 70-PAGE BILL AND THIS WAS ONE ITEM AND IF THEY VOTED NO, ALL OF THE OTHER IMPORTANT STUFF WOULD BE VOTED DOWN AND SO I FEEL LIKE REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS WHETHER THEY BELIEVE THE BRIDGE SHOULD REMAIN OR NOT HAD NO CHOICE.

MANN'S PETITION HAS CAUGHT THE ATTENTION OF NOT ONLY RESIDENTS AND LOCAL MEDIA, BUT A LOCAL POLITICIAN AS WELL.

REPUBLICAN ASSEMBLYMAN KEVIN BURN WHO REPRESENTS PARTS OF WEST CHESTER AND PUTNAM COUNTY FILED LEGISLATION THIS WEEK THAT WOULD CHANGE THE NAME BACK TO THE MALCOLM WILSON TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE.

LOOK AT THAT PETITION, YOU CAN SEE WHO HAS SIGNED IT.

LOOK AT THE PEOPLE THAT REPRESENT THAT AREA.

I CAN TELL YOU WE'RE ALL GETTING PHONE CALLS ABOUT THIS.

AND THERE WAS THIS RECENT ARTICLE IN ONE OF OUR LOCAL PAPERS HERE IN PUTNAM COUNTY WHERE TWO DEMOCRATIC CHAIR PERSONS SPOKE OUT.

ALONG WITH THE PETITION, MANN HAS STARTED A GO FUND ME PAGE WHERE HE HOPES TO RAISE AROUND $8,500.

HE SAYS IF THAT HAPPENS, HE WILL THEN TAKE HIS MESSAGE ON THE ROAD.

WE WANT TO PLASTER THIS STATE WITH THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE.

THE MISSION IS TO GET BILLBOARDS, TO GET LAWN SIGNS, T-SHIRTS, BUMPER STICKERS.

THERE ARE STILL HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN THIS STATE THAT HAVE NO IDEA THAT THE BRIDGE NAME HAS CHANGED.

IN FACT, IF YOU DRIVE AROUND THE AREA NEAR THE BRIDGE, YOU MIGHT NOT EVEN KNOW THE NAME HAS CHANGED.

ALL OF THE SIGNAGE STILL CALLS IT THE TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE.

THAT'S EXPECTED TO CHANGE AT SOME POINT NEXT YEAR.

THE GOVERNOR SAID IN NOVEMBER AT A STOP IN SULLIVAN COUNTY THAT THE PETITION WAS HURTFUL.

MANN, A LAWYER, STRESSED MULTIPLE TIMES IN OUR INTERVIEW THAT THIS IS NOT POLITICAL AND NOT MEANT AS A PERSONAL KNOCK AGAINST ANDREW CUOMO OR THE MEMORY OF HIS FATHER.

ALL I WANT IS THAT BRIDGE WHICH OUR TAXES PAID FOR AND WHICH THE PEOPLE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE HUDSON HAVE MADE CLEAR IS OURS.

IT'S NOT FOR A POLITICIAN TO NAME AFTER A FAMILY MEMBER.

GOD BLESS HIM.

REST IN PEACE, MARIO CUOMO.

MAY HAVE DONE WONDERFUL THINGS FOR THE STATE, BUT THIS IS NOT THE TIME OR THE PLACE OR VENUE FOR SOME TYPE OF MEMORIAL FOR MR. CUOMO.

WHAT IF IT WAS CALLED THE GOVERNOR MARIO CUOMO TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE?

I WOULD -- I THINK EVERYBODY -- POLITICS IS COMPROMISED, WE ALL KNOW THAT, MAYBE IT SHOULDN'T BE, MAYBE THERE'S RIGHT AND WRONG.

I THINK THE RIGHT THING TO DO IS JUST CALL IT THE TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE, BUT IN THE INTEREST OF COMPROMISE AND TO LET ANDREW CUOMO KNOW THAT, LOOK, I'M NOT DOING THIS TO GET MARIO'S NAME OFF THE BRIDGE, IF HE MAGNANIMOUSLY WOULD LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE AND SAY, HEY, I HEAR YOU GUYS AND I REPRESENT ALL OF YOU, IF HE WOULD RENAME THE BRIDGE THE CUOMO TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE, PEOPLE ARE GOING TO LOVE HIM.

I WILL HAVE THE GREATEST RESPECT FOR HIM IF HE WOULD DO THIS FOR US.

GOVERNOR CUOMO HINTED EARLIER THIS YEAR THAT THE OFFICIAL SIGNAGE WOULD LIKELY BE INTRODUCED AROUND THE TIME ON WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN HIS FATHER'S BIRTHDAY.

THAT MEANS WE MIGHT SEE SOME NEW SIGNS AND LIKELY A CEREMONY OF SOME SORT AROUND MID-JUNE.

FOR 'METROFOCUS,' I'M MATT RYAN IN ALBANY.

♪♪

> WOULDN'T YOU LOVE TO SEE ONE OF THESE NFL OWNERS WHEN SOMEBODY DIS RESPECTS OUR FLAG TO SAY, GET THAT 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.

THE PRESIDENT SET OFF A FIRESTORM WHEN HE TOOK OFF 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 HAS NOW MORPHED INTO SOMETHING MORE, A STATEMENT OF DIRECT RESISTANCE AGAINST THE PRESIDENT AFTER HE WEIGHED IN ON THE TOPIC.

FOR HIS PART NFL COMMISSIONER 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 OUR 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 PROTEST AS UNPATRIOTIC, FEELING THAT POLITICS HAS NO PLACE IN SPORTS, OTHERS EMBRACING IT.

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

MY CO-HOST, RAFAEL PI ROMAN, HAD A CHANCE TO CATCH UP WITH BROADWAY JOE TO DISCUSS THE CONTROVERSY AND A VARIETY OF OTHER TOPICS, BUT FIRST RAF ASKED HIM ABOUT 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 ARE NOT REGULATED TO SPORTS AND THIS IS HOW I GOT INVOLVED.

I MEAN, EVERY DAY KID FALLS OFF A BICYCLE, THERE IS 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 OF 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 THERE A PERSONAL REASON?

ABSOLUTELY.

A TEAMMATE OF MINE FOR FOUR YEARS, HE HAD COME TO A CAMP THAT A FRIEND OF MINE AND I HAVE AND HE HAD TALKED TO US AND HE HAD BEEN TO EVERY CAMP FOR 30 YEARS AND HE WAS EXPRESSING TO US 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, YOU KNOW, I KNOW I HAD A HANDFUL OF CONCUSSIONS MINIMUM AND I PLAN ON LIVING A WHILE AND I FIGURE I OWED IT TO MYSELF TO FIND OUT MY SITUATION.

I OWED IT TO MY FAMILY, MY CHILDREN.

AND SO 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 A BLOOD FLOW.

THEY WEREN'T WORKING.

THEY WERE DARK.

AND SO I WENT THROUGH A SERIES OF DIVES OVER A PERIOD OF SEVEN MONTHS AND CHANGE, 120 DIVES TO BE EXACT IN A HYPERBARIC OXYGEN CHAMBER AND AFTER EVERY 40 DIVES I HAD NEW COGNITIVE TESTS AND NEW BRAIN SCANS.

SO LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT TREATMENT, IT'S CALLED HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY.

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

RUNNING THROUGH YOUR SYSTEM UNDER A PRESSURIZED ENVIRONMENT, IT'S BEEN IN USE FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS AND OUR NAVY, THE SEALS, THE COME UP OUT OF MAKING DIVES AND YOU GO INTO A PRESSURE CHAMBER AND --

DEE COME PRESSES.

TO DECOMPRESS.

BUT THE USE OF PURE OXYGEN TO HELP AILMENTS.

SO OBVIOUSLY THERE'S AT LEAST 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.

I WILL TELL YOU WHAT, THAT BRAIN IS FLOATING AROUND IN THERE AND IT'S GOING TO BOUNCE OFF OF THAT BONE IN THERE, CRANIUM, WHATEVER, AND WHETHER YOU FALL OFF A BICYCLE, WHETHER YOU MAKE A TACKLE, WHETHER YOU GET HIT AS QUARTERBACK, GO BACK, HARD HIT, THE BACK OF YOUR HEAD HITS THE GROUND, WHETHER A GUY COMES ACROSS YOU.

WE'VE CHANGED THE RULES IN FOOTBALL FROM NOT ONLY PROFESSIONAL LEVEL BUT TO THE ELEMENTARY LEVEL.

ALL RIGHT?

WE'RE TRYING TO MAKE THE GAME, THE SPORT, SAFER, BUT THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THE SPORT OF FOOTBALL IS A CONTACT SPORT AND YOU'RE GETTING HIT AND 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 PRO BALL, 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 THAT PARENT WANTS THAT CHILD TO BE IN THERE GOING, YOU KNOW, HE'S TOUGH.

YEAH.

YEAH.

SO WHAT WOULD 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 AS WELL AS THIS 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 -- 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 BIT, RIGHT?

AS HAS THE POLITICAL CONTROVERSIES THAT HAVE SURROUNDED THE NFL.

I WONDER 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, OKAY, I WILL SHAKE IT OFF, I'LL GO.

THAT'S ALL ANY COACHES, TRAINERS EVER TOLD US.

YOU GET SMELLING SALTS AND GO BACK IN THERE, YOU'RE TOUGH.

IT WAS A YOUNG -- A YOUNG PERSON'S GAME THAT WANTED TO BE A MAN, WANTED TO BE STRONG.

WE WANTED TO GET OUT THERE AND PLAY.

IT'S A TOUGH SPORT.

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 SEE, PROFESSIONALLY.

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

I'M NOT COMPLAINING, MIND YOU.

I AM NOT COMPLAINING, HOWEVER, IT'S VERY PHYSICAL AND THERE ARE INJURIES INVOLVED.

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

IS IT SIMPLY BECAUSE PEOPLE WERE JUST COMPLETELY IGNORANT OF IT IN THE OLD DAYS OR IS IT BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE JUST DIDN'T WANT IT TO SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT IT WOULD HURT THE GAME OF FOOTBALL?

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

THE PUGILISTIC ARTS, GUYS HAVE BEEN GETTING HIT AND WHEN I WAS A KID I ASKED MY DADDY WHY THIS GUY BEHAVED THIS WAY IN MY LITTLE OLD HOMETOWN, HE SAID, SON, HE'S PUNCH DRUNK.

PUNCH DRUNK.

OKAY.

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

NOW THEN THE CHRONIC CHRONIC TRAUMATIC ENCEPHALOPATHY THAT'S ANOTHER STORY.

THAT'S RECENTLY FAIRLY NEW, THE DISCOVERY AND WE ARE STILL WORKING ON HOW IT CAN AFFECT OR KILL PEOPLE BEFORE YOU KNOW 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 EVEN 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 PEOPLE ARGUE IT'S BECAUSE OF THIS ISSUE, PEOPLE NOW REALIZING HOW DAMAGING THE GAME CAN BE, THEY JUST DON'T LIKE IT AS MUCH ANYMORE.

ANOTHER REASON IS THE POLITICAL CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING THE GAME BUT MORE SPECIFICALLY THE TAKING OF THE KNEE DURING THE NICE.

WHAT'S YOUR TAME ON THAT?

WELL, I'VE BEEN STANDING FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM, I BELIEVE IN HONORING OUR FLAG AND OUR COUNTRY.

THE KNEE STANCE WAS TAKEN IN THE FIRST PLACE AS A SUBMISSION KIND OF MOVE, AS A RESPECTFUL KIND OF MOVE AND NOT BY COLIN KAEPERNICK INITIALLY, IT WAS A TEAMMATE, ERIC REED THAT DECIDED, DO YOU KNOW WHAT, THIS IS OUR FLAG, WE'VE GOT TO SHOW SOME RESPECT, LET'S DO IT.

AND THAT'S THEIR WAY OF HUMBLY SHOWING THE RESPECT YET REBELLING AGAINST THE OPPRESSION THEY FEEL THAT IS GOING ON AND -- BUT I PERSONALLY WILL STAND FOREVER FOR THIS FLAG AND OUR COUNTRY.

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, RAFAEL.

♪♪

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Funders

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