Friday marked the 32nd anniversary of Dave Duerson and the Chicago Bears winning Super Bowl XX. On the previous day, the Dave Duerson Act to Prevent CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), a legislation that would end organized tackle football for youth under age 12 was unveiled.
The bill's sponsor, State Rep. Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills), was joined by a coalition of football stars, medical experts and advocates at the Thompson Center on Thursday to brief the media on the bill's content and its goals. The introduction of this legislation coincided with both the start of the Illinois General Assembly's 2018 legislative session, and the run-up to Super Bowl LII.
The Patriotic Dissenter was there for the press conference, and afterward we had an exclusive with Sente, the audio of which is below:
Sente, who has been in office since 2009 and will not seek re-election after 2018, will fulfill the initial pledge of serving 8-12 years that she made when she first took power. Thus, getting the Duerson Act passed would be the perfect high-water mark to close out her legislative career.
Sente has already helped bring about a 2014 law requiring concussion certification for all high school football coaches.
"The evidence has been mounting, especially over the past six years since I have been tracking this issue and reading all the research I could get my hands on," Sente said.
"This bill is a natural progression of the data and the science. We can protect our children's brains and we can protect football."
The bill is also a natural equivalent to mandates that we have already seen enacted in the U.S. Soccer Federation (no headers for children under the age of 11) and the U.S. Hockey Association (no body checks for children under the age of 13.)
For audio of the Duerson Act press conference, click below:
Children as young as five are playing tackle football, and all the evidence points to permanent, irreversible damage being done to children's brains. Sente lost a sister to a vehicle accident that occurred before seat belt laws were enacted, a fact the state rep brought up during the press conference.
"It's always a tough issue: when should government step in," Sente said.
"For me, it's when I think it becomes a dramatic public safety issue. We've seen this when it's seat belts or children's car seats or smoking or things like that."
The Duerson Act is named for the starting strong safety for the iconic 1985 Super Bowl XX winning Chicago Bears who took his own life, via a gunshot wound at age 50, and was found to have (CTE) which has been linked to head impacts sustained playing football. CTE is commonly known by many as "the football disease."
Duerson's teammate on the '85 Bears, the legendary Otis Wilson, was on hand for the Duerson Act unveiling, and he revealed that he will be donating his brain to CTE research. Go here for more on that.
Also on hand was local media legend Mike Adamle, who gave a very personal and powerful speech. You can read that at this link.
As you watch Super Bowl LII this Sunday, and you see Tom Brady in action, remember that the New England Patriots signal caller never played football until high school. Likewise for the local legend of all legends, Walter Payton. Ditto for Jerry Rice, Lawrence Taylor and Jim Brown, all three of which are often deemed the best to ever play their position.
For the language of House Bill 4341, go to this link.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune corporation blogging community Chicago Now.
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