Read Steve Gleason filling in for Peter King this week.
Current research shows that NFL players are more likely to have certain brain diseases. Additional research shows there have been 27 players diagnosed with ALS in the past 60 years. But it’s important to note that more than 27 ALS patients, none of whom have ever played football, will die in the next two days. For me, this disease is global. It affects any race, gender or walk of life.
But if football did, somehow, cause my ALS, what does that mean for my life?
As humans, we are able to conjure and attach meaning to almost any circumstance or development. When handed what feels like a terminal diagnosis, it’s human nature to ask, Why did this happen to me?! or What does this mean?!
The question What caused this? can usually be analyzed and measured precisely. (Scientists are still working on defining the cause of ALS, and I am not sure if football caused my ALS.) On the other hand, interpreting meaning is, in my opinion, quite ambiguous. We cannot measure, verify or confirm meaning. We, as humans, create and apply meaning. When something happens to us, we become the author of meaning. The best philosophy I have adopted is to apply a useful and productive meaning, rather than a negative or destructive meaning, regardless of the circumstances in my life.
So, I have conjured my own meaning from my circumstance, if in fact football did cause my ALS. It means to me that I gave my life helping a city and a region in ruins find some hope in their struggle for rebirth. I will never regret that.
Read it all. I mean it.