NEW ORLEANS. As media representatives assemble here for the Super Bowl, a large assortment of causes compete for attention in the reflected glow of the biggest sports event of the year. "We usually get a lot of women's groups and other whiners," says NFL publicist Dwight Casey. "My job is to keep 'em from spoiling a great day of organized violence made possible by commercials with funny animals."
"Four downs, ten yards for a first down--we don't need big numbers!"
But one group that is vying for the limelight here represents a backlash against a backlash; the Former Football Players With Concussions is a non-profit formed to counteract what they say are unwarranted attacks on head-to-head contact in the game they grew up playing.
"You're Ted? I thought I was Ted."
"We're in danger of becoming a nation of pansy-asses, like France," says Ted Miscalso, who was a defensive tackle for Fordham in the early 60's. "Name one--just one Frenchman who was ever any damn good at football."
"Does anybody know how many grandchildren I have?"
Members say they were aware of the risks inherent in the game, and argue that today's players shouldn't be let off easy. "It's like a fraternity hazing ritual," says Mike Adamick, a former center for the University of Iowa. "It didn't make any sense when we did it, so let's not mess with success."
"There's no money in the budget for helmets this year guys, so do your best."
Con Chapman, who played tackle football without a helmet before advancing to the relative safety of the organized high school game, serves as the group's unofficial spokesman. What, he is asked, is the biggest challenge facing a start-up charity that must overcome growing public sentiment that their beloved sport is too dangerous? "Colors," he says as he closely examines this reporter's necktie. "Pretty colors. Nice."