Good Morning, Broncos fans! As we all celebrate the Broncos' return to the NFL's heavyweight class, here comes another sobering reminder of the long-term costs associated with the sport.
Junior Seau had CTE.
Much in the way gun advocates said it was too early to discuss gun restrictions in the days following the Aurora and Sandy Hook massacres, those who prefer to keep their heads in the sand regarding concussions (or claim that players have chosen to subject themselves to these consequences) said it was in poor taste to speculate about what caused Seau to shoot himself in the heart last May.
Just because they didn't want to face the truth, they preferred that everyone else ignore it out of some perverted sense of decency or respect.
Sorry, but welcome to reality.
If news of Seau's death didn't immediately prompt you to ask yourself why he would do such a thing, and whether playing football had anything to do with it, then you're either new to the concussion story, or you're ignoring it.
It's not about being macho, or having these players be as tough as we'd like to think we are.
It's not important that we keep football exactly the way it is, just because of stupid things like tradition and familiarity.
Tradition is often about continuing to do something despite the knowledge it's wrong, or that there's a better way.
Screw tradition, and screw being tough.
To everyone whose children play sports, be sensitive to their health, and please don't demand they "tough it out" when they sustain a head injury.
Should you suffer one of your own, please don't take it lightly.
If you haven't been introduced to the CTE story, here are a few great places to start - read Jeanne Marie Laskas's groundbreaking stories about Bennet Omalu and Fred McNeill, Patrick Hruby's heartbreaking retelling of the unfathomable loss suffered by the Trenum family of Nokesville, VA, and Jane Leavy's profile of the tireless work being done by Ann McKee and others to get to the bottom of this crisis.
And if those articles don't make you think about football in a different way (Yes, we're quite aware you watch football and come to this site to "get away" from real life, but we don't aim to be a diversion from life. We are here to make you think.), then perhaps these words from Seau's children will:
Jake, a high school junior who quit football to focus on lacrosse, added: "He lived for those games, Sunday and Monday nights, you know? And to find out that that's possibly what could've killed him or caused his death is really hard."
Tyler added: "Is it worth it? I'm not sure. But it's not worth it for me to not have a dad. So to me it's not worth it."
RIP, Junior. We can only hope you have not died in vain.
Videos: John Fox, Mike McCoy, Jack Del Rio, and Champ Bailey speak after practice, from which BTV reports; Mike Adams visits with NFL AM; Darren Sharper discusses what Baltimore must do to slow down Manning & Co.
Demaryius Thomas says Baltimore's corners play "right up to the whistle" and "almost past it."
Not only did Chris Harris & Co. hold Anquan Boldin without a catch last time, but Champ Bailey & Co. kept Torrey Smith to just one reception. Champ says the Broncos view that prior matchup as simply game tape, rather than reason to expect another easy win.
Champ and Keith Brooking say that although veterans warned them early in their careers that playoff appearances are to be savored, they didn't gain that proper appreciation until later on. Of course, as they try to provide the same advice to their younger teammates, it's likely to fall on the same deaf ears they themselves once had.
Manning has now beaten the Ravens nine straight times, and he's never lost to them since Ed Reed joined the team; if he brings Denver to the SB, it will have been the fifth time in seven years that he or his brother has made it to the big game.
Peyton's performance against Baltimore off play-action was superhuman, while his stats on regular dropbacks was subpar.
John Elway is taking another victory lap for his signing of Manning, and why not? Meanwhile, Sandy Clough says only Elway had the power to fend off the zombies and ship the lefty who throws like he's a righty out of town.
Mike Klis thinks McCoy and old friend Rick Dennison will end up among the finalists for the vacant Bears gig.
By Jeff Legwold's count, the Broncos have missed just 19 tackles this year after whiffing on 41 last season, and he consults the old Rolodex to learn that Denver's defenders are playing better across the board. FWIW, PFF says the numbers are more like 64 and 87, respectively.
Mayor Hancock has declared tomorrow an Orange Friday, and the team will hold a pep rally outside SAF@MH on Friday evening.
Former CU Buff Jimmy Smith knows firsthand that the Mile High altitude has a real effect, but he also says it takes about two weeks to overcome it, and that it's of course not a prohibitive advantage.
Joe Flacco has no plans to don a glove on Saturday like Manning will.
Second-rounder Kemechi Osemele started at RT all year long but slid to LG last week for the first time, and he figures to stay inside this week.
As Baltimore's offense gets more acquainted with having Jim Caldwell call plays, it's become more productive on the ground and in terms of total yardage, but has seen a dropoff in points.
RG3 underwent successful surgery to repair his knee yesterday morning and should be back for the 2013 season. Watching Griffin play with a torn knee brought back memories for one Philip Rivers, who did the same against the Patriots (apparently for Jesus-related reasons).
DeMarcus Ware will have surgery to repair his torn shoulder labrum.
Andy Reid interviewed his own former assistants Doug Pederson about the Chiefs OC gig, and Brad Childress about another staff opening.
Cleveland also met with Panthers OC Rob Chudzinski yesterday, and they plan to interview Colts OC Bruce Arians, who was released from an Indy hospital after being treated for an inner-ear infection. Arians is also expected to meet with the Chargers, Bears, and Eagles about their vacancies.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who only days ago said that leaving ND "was not an option," considered another option yesterday by interviewing with the Eagles. He's expected to meet with them again in a few days, and he also may consider the Bears as another option. FWIW, Kelly has no NFL experience of any kind.
Former LOLJets DC Mike Pettine will now run the Bills defense; the LOLJets will interview ex-Bears GM Jerry Angelo, the genius who thinks there was "divine intervention" last year helping Tebowmania along.
Bill Cowher has reportedly turned down several interview requests and is pondering a return to coaching in four or five years.
Meanwhile, Jon Gruden apparently has a staff ready to go, but he hasn't garnered much interest, apparently because teams aren't sure if he wants to return for the right reasons.
Handshake Haley interviewed for the Cardinals head job yesterday, while his agent gave NFL.com's Ian Rapoport a total runaround.
Half of the offensive and defensive players on PFF's All-AFCW team are Broncos.
Chase Stuart examines the Falcons' horrible luck in pulling another formidable opponent to open the playoffs against, and reminds us that Matt Ryan is one of many top QBs who have taken a while to win their first playoff game (if he ever does, haha).
Clark Judge is looking past this weekend to a Manning/Brady rematch, and he thinks everyone else is doing the same.
While it's easy to groan at Broncos/Ravens landing Greg Gumbel/Dan Dierdorf/Solomon Wilcots for Saturday, it's not like any of the other three announcer teams are any more appealing.
KSK captionizes the wild card round.