116 : When The Truth Sets You Free w/ Former King's College QB & Survivor of Sexual Abuse, Mark Williams

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Episode 116 sheds light on the issue of sexual abuse, which is a topic that has been extensively covered in the media over the last few months.  This episode was recorded back on October 17 of 2017, which was after the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, but before Larry Nassar plead guilty to 10 counts of first-degree sexual misconduct.  Now, we are also aware of the sexual abuse that Nassar's athletes suffered while at Michigan State University.  It is tragic how common and similar these stories are and leaves us wondering how the hell something like this can happen and continue to happen for so long?!  This week's guest tells us not only how, but also what we can do to prevent the suffering of others in the future.

"I am not unique."

Mark Williams is a former East Hampton High School quarterback who led his team to a county championship back in 1973 and he eventually went on to play at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  After losing his father to leukemia when he was 12 years old, Mark fell victim to sexual abuse on multiple occasions, which led him down a path of alcoholism until he was 48 years old.  I can't thank Mark enough for his courage to be vulnerable and share his story with the listeners of the Heads 'N Tales podcast.  As we know, this is the true definition of toughness.  Below you will find a list of some of the talking points you will hear in this interview:

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  • Why the death of Mark's father made him vulnerable to sexual abuse.
  • What influenced Mark to abuse alcohol after being sexually abused by an elementary school teacher and Mark's genetic predisposition to alcoholism.
  • How sports and especially football served as an outlet for Mark.
  • The situation that led Mark to be sexually abused by a Priest when he was 15. 
  • Why Mark really struggled playing baseball in high school.
  • The complicated relationship Mark had with the Catholic Church.

“We are as sick as our secrets”

  • How Mark's experiences with sexual abuse lead to a confused sense of sexuality.
  • What happened when Mark "removed the mask" of football and his transition to life after sports.
  • What Mark said when he spoke to the Penn State Football Alumni Association after the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
    • Mark shares his thoughts on Joe Paterno's role. 
  • The role authority and power plays in instances of sexual abuse.
  • Common themes/red flags of sexual abuse.

“Its like a cancer, and left untreated, eventually it is going to erupt.” 

- Mark Williams on Penn State

  • What happened when Mark stopped using alcohol cold turkey.
  • The limp/conversion disorder Mark developed after losing the "crutch" of alcohol.
  • The question that set Mark free.

“When was your first drink?” 

  • How Mark is using his experience as a forensic social worker and mitigation specialist.
  • Story of a Rikers Island prisoner Mark worked with.
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Download Episode 116 : iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud

115 : The Evolution of Media Coverage on Concussions w/ Athletic Trainer & Founder of The Concussion Blog, Dustin Fink

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Dustin Fink is an Athletic Trainer at Mount Zion public schools in Illinois and Founder of The Concussion Blog which is an education and communication outpost from an athletic trainers perspective. I followed Dustin's work on his blog for years when I was eager to learn more about the injury that ended my football career back in 2007.  I referenced countless research articles listen on his site on papers in both under grad and grad school.  Through the blog and twitter, Dustin made a name for himself as the go-to source on everything and anything related to concussions. Dustin is a legend in the concussion awareness movement that we have been experiencing during the last decade. 

We recorded this episode the day after Super Bowl 52 where the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots. Dustin starts off the interview by giving his thoughts on  gives his thoughts on the concussions Brandin Cooks and Patrick Chung suffered in that game and Gronk's retirement rumors.  Below you will find a list of other topics we touch on in our conversation:

“There is no such thing as a concussion protocol in the super bowl”

  • Dustin's thoughts on the proposed bill to ban on tackle football before 12 in his home state of Illinois.
  • Dustin takes us through some of the 14 concussions he has suffered to date.
  • The importance of limiting exposure to collisions 
  • How Dustin has battled depression throughout his own experience with post concussion syndrome.
  • What triggers Dustin's PCS symptoms.
  • A coping mechanism for depression Dustin uses.
  • How writing for The Concussion Blog was a form of therapy for Dustin.
  • How Dustin prioritizes nutrition despite the long hours of an athletic trainer.
  • How concussion coverage has changed since starting the blog.
  • Alan Schwarz’s  (New York Times) influence on the concussion media movement.
  • Dustin’s thoughts on concussion protocol discrepancies and his assessment of the NFL’s approach to concussions. (His answer might surprise you!)
  • Why Dustin would allow his kids to play football in high school.

“Why are we afraid to admit the game is dangerous?”

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  • The evolution of how adolescent athletes view concussions over the years and why I might not have suffered second impact syndrome had I been playing in 2018 instead of 2007.
  • What Dustin's preseason concussion talk looks like and how it has evolved.
  • How Dustin builds trust with his coaches and athletes.
  • Dustin's advice to athletes who suffer season-ending injuries.
  • Why improper recovery is the #1 reason kids get injured.
  • Recovery tools discussed : Whoop, Catapult
  • Why Dustin is surprised at the candidness of his athletes today.
  • Aggressive vs. passive athletes and injury rates.
  • Whats on the horizon for concussion research especially when it comes to recovery.

WHERE CAN YOU CONNECT WITH Dustin?

 Blog | TWITTER FACEBOOK | LINKEDIN

Download Episode 115 : iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud

Week 22 Injury Report : Super Bowl Injuries, Cooks & Chung Concussions, Gronk Retirement Rumors & 1,151 Yards of Total Offense

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After each week of NFL football games for the 2017-2018 season, the Heads 'N Tales podcast will be posting an episode dedicated to injuries and health & safety topics surrounding the NFL. Specifically we will talk about possible prevention strategies, the rulebook, equipment and other injury buzz around the league.  My co-host and strategist for these episodes will be one of my closest friends, Josh Boyd (hence the J in "JK"..I'm the K...).  Josh and I grew up playing baseball together. Josh was a division-1 center fielder for Monmouth University and experienced his fair share of injuries throughout his career.  Although Josh never played organized football, the dude flat-out knows the game of football and undoubtably knows more about the ins-and-outs of the sport better than I do from both a fan and x's & o's perspective.  Our intention for these episodes is to spark conversations around topics that are usually brushed under the rug or only minimally covered in the hopes of making football and all sports safer for the athletes who play them.  

You are currently looking at the show notes for SUPER BOWL 52!

Super bowl 52 Injuries:

Brandin Cooks, New England WR, Concussion

  • By the rules this was a clean hit.
  • Kevin and Josh debate if this type of hit can be enforced out of the game by the players themselves.
  • Game impact of the injury.

Patrick Chung, New England S, Concussion/Taking a nap?

Chung was also shooken up later in the game:

  • Further reinforcing our previous discussions on how it takes time for the onset of symptoms and the need the go to the locker room.
  • Be on the lookout for an investigation.

Rob Gronkowski, New England TE, Coming of concussion from afc Championship game; Had himself a freakin day despite the loss, rumors of retiring

  • Josh brings up the point that injuries always hurt a lot worse after a tough loss.

Devin McCourty (Rutgers Guy), New England S, Knee

  • Doesn't seem like anything too concerning, most likely just the lingering affects of a long season. 
  • Not much out there on when, where, or how this happened.

Malcolm Butler, New England CB, illness?

  • Josh believes this had the biggest impact on the outcome of the game.

Thoughts on the Game:

Tons of passing:

  • 1,151 yards of total offense between the two teams: 538 for Philadelphia, 613 for New England.

  • 1 Player in the entire game (LeGarrette Blount) who exceeded nine rushing attempts. Both teams ran for better than 5 yards per carry, but they did it by committee. The Eagles used three running backs regularly (Blount, Jay Ajayi, and Corey Clement), while the Patriots split opportunities between James White, Dion Lewis, and Rex Burkhead.

Is this the future of football? Would it be such a bad thing? Would it lead to a safer game?

  • Josh discusses the personnel requirements to pull this off. 

How ‘bout that Foles touchdown catch?!

Clement Touchdown

Ertz touchdown

  • Earlier in the game Ertz was the recipient of a clean defenseless receiver tackle on forth down Below (00:10).

Skinny Dudes can't hurdle

  • Good example of the benefits of seeing what you hit.

Carson Wentz Feelz post game

Look out for our article coming on what the NFL should do to make the game safer!

 Download Episode: iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud