HBO "State of Play" Series Addresses Hot Topics in Sports, Consequences of Concussion

November 19, 2014 by NATA Admin

by John Doherty, ATC, PT

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) released a new set of guidelines last week intended to reduce the risk of head impact and concussion in football. That same day, General Electric, the NFL and Under Armour announced the winners of their grant competition, the Head Health Challenge II. The seven research groups will each receive $500,000 to continue investigating various methods and devices to improve brain safety in sports, specifically football. Next year, the most promising five of those seven will receive another $1 million apiece.

Judging by these two news items alone, the interest of the body politic in improving the safety of the game it loves has never been higher. Not only are administrators, coaches, fans, medics, parents and players worried about head injuries on the field, they are even more concerned with the effect those injuries will have later in life, when the game is over. Against that backdrop, HBO will broadcast four new episodes of its sports documentary series "State of Play" Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST.

This week’s episode, entitled “Happiness,” is devoted precisely to life for professional football players after they have retired from the game. Further, it focuses on three players: Brett Favre, Tiki Barber and Wayne Chrebet. Watch a clip from this week’s episode below:

Favre famously retired from the Packers after the 2007 season only to come back and play three more years with the Jets and Vikings. Barber left the Giants after the 2006 season while still at his peak only to fail as a broadcaster at NBC. Chrebet — you may remember — was forced out by Jets doctors in mid-season 2005 because of repeated concussions. Their experiences since have been uneven but all three now seem to be in a pretty good place. The show tells how they got there and features advice from mental health experts on how to avoid the rough spots.

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John Doherty, ATC, PT, is a certified athletic trainer and physical therapist, as well as NATA Now’s newest contributor. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at or on Twitter at @JDohertyATCPT. You can also view the full version of the article on the Times website.

Posted by NATA News Managing Editor Jaimie Siegle ( / Photo via HBO