New England Patriots

McMullen | There is no smoking gun with Tom Brady concussion

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 14: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) leaves the field after an AFC Divisional Playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans on January 14, 2017 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Texans 34-16. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)
Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire

Some philosophers will argue the fact, but one of the laws of logic is that you can’t prove a negative.

It’s called evidence of absence, and the theory is “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” However, to some, if a certain event actually occurred, presumably evidence of it exists and the absence of proof for such an event is actually proof it didn’t occur.

So what does that mean? And how the heck does it relate to professional football?

Well, Tom Brady’s supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen was a guest on “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday and set off a bit of a firestorm by telling Charlie Rose her husband suffered a concussion during the 2016 season.

“I just have to say, as a wife, I’m a little bit — as you know, it’s not the most — let’s say [it’s] an aggressive sport. Football, like he had a concussion last year,” she claimed. “I mean, he has concussions, pretty much, I mean, we don’t talk about [it] but he does have concussions. ”

No big deal right? Football players suffer concussions on occasion.

The problem comes in because there is no evidence the sport’s most high-profile player was ever diagnosed with any head trauma last season and therefore never went into the concussion protocol never mind cleared it.

For certain critics chomping at the bit to claim the league is continuing to obfuscate when it comes to head trauma, this was the smoking gun whether it was the dastardly Patriots forcing their star to stay on the field or the league itself ignoring the obvious.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 01: New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady (12) leaves the field and walks back to the sidelines during the NFL football game between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins on January 1, 2017, at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL. (Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire)

That’s silly, of course, but this is also a fight the NFL can’t win because of its history of dragging its feet regarding this issue.

Perhaps that’s the league’s ultimate punishment here because no matter what it does, you are always going to have a group that dismisses it.

There should be a middle ground, a place where intelligent people can acknowledge the past and still applaud the introduction of independent ATC spotters on game days, as well as the system where independent neurologists have to clear players diagnosed before they can return to the field.

To some, though, any doctor or trainer affiliated in any way with the NFL, even if it’s just examining a player, has been compromised and the medical opinion of a fetching Brazilian whose wheelhouse is the runway not the operating room is held in higher regard.

The absurdity of that is obvious, but it’s also lost on many well-intentioned individuals.

This is not a shot off the bow of Mrs. Brady, however, because her take and the fact that Brady was never diagnosed are hardly at odds.

The common-sense explanation here is that Brady was suffering from the effects of a potential concussion and told his wife about it but did not alert the Patriots.


Because, like a lot of players, he wants to stay on the field and likely attempted to circumvent any diagnosis.

And that’s the toughest part of all when it comes to dealing with concussions. If the patient is not telling the truth when it comes to the symptoms of any malady, it’s tough for a doctor to properly diagnose the issue.

As far as the NFL goes, however, it needs to understand it can’t prove that negative, especially to people who have already made up their minds.

The path forward is to lower the rabbit ears and continue to be as transparent as possible.

The days of Paul Tagliabue hiring his rheumatologist to inform the public about head trauma are over, and for the activists who don’t believe that it’s sad because they are failing to acknowledge the meaningful change they helped create.

-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, CBS Baltimore, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.


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