Periodic Pingback Double-Dose: Conscientious objection and concussion protection

It’s Christmastime, after all — the season of giving, yes?  So why not give you, dear reader, a double dip of Periodic Pingback — links to articles on the Web that so intrigued me I couldn’t NOT pass them on?  (You know I’m cranked up when I start dropping double negatives.  This thing is on!)  So, you up for it?  ‘Cause I am.  Here we go …

Pingback #1 — I’ve been following with interest a series on called “The Wrong Stuff.”  In it Kathryn Schulz, author of the book Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, interviews various people who either changed their views on key issues in their life and purview — those forced to change by circumstance or legal ruling, as well as those who just “came around” to a different opinion.  Past interviewees include White House “hatchet man” turned prison reformer Charles Colson, defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger and veteran sportswriter Joe Posnanski.  And I’ve found both the concept (how success often arrives dressed in a cloak of failure) and the subjects’ honesty refreshing.

Schulz’s latest interviewee is Josh Stieber, a former U.S. Army infantryman whom,  serving in Iraq during the current conflict, became a conscientious objector and was discharged.  Josh is a devout Christian, and has allowed his faith to shape the stand he has taken — even when the stand is opposed to that of many of his fellow believers.  Whether you agree or disagree with his choices, I think his experiences make his views worth reading and thinking about.  You can find the entire interview here.

Pingback #2 — Every year, I find myself watching less and less football.  As I learn how to be calmer and less violent, I find the violence inherent in the sport more disturbing; as a nurse’s kid, I get concerned when it seems like the effort to win games is put ahead of the players’ safety.  And lately the injuries seem to get more serious and dangerous with each passing week.  (I’ve said in the past that I think the time is close where we will see the NFL’s first on-field fatality; we’ve already had one in training camp.)  There is at least more conversation about concussions, which I tend to think of as the most serious injuries possible — a concussion is, after all, damage to a person’s brain — but there’s still a tug-of-war between the football world’s traditional win-at-all-costs, be-a-tough-guy mindset and the logical worries of protecting the actual minds.

Which makes what Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver did all that more special.  Two Sundays ago, Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers “got his bell rung” in a game against the Detroit Lions, being hit hard on back-to-back plays.  The Packers were (and are) fighting for a playoff spot, and they needed Rodgers in the game to have their best shot at it.  Driver, a twelve-year NFL veteran, knew all this, knew that they might lose more games if Rodgers wasn’t in the lineup throwing passes to (among others) Driver.

And yet when Rodgers came to the bench, Driver’s advice to him was to stay out until he was medically sound.  Specifically he said, “This is just a game. Your life is more important than a game.”

Rodgers did in fact have a concussion, and was held out of the rest of the game against Detroit AND the next week’s contest against New England.(Reportedly doctors have cleared him to play this coming Sunday.)  And Green Bay lost both games without Rodgers in the lineup.  Their playoff chances may be irreparably damaged.  But on the flip side, Rodgers’ brain may not be because he allowed it more time to heal.  He took the advice of a veteran teammate, one who cared more about his long-term health than the scoreboard.

Tim Keown of has a full write-up of the story and his opinion of it, with which I heartily agree.  Kudos to Donald Driver, who helped give his QB for Christmas the gift of life without a scrambled noggin — and may his tribe increase!



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