Justin Fields Quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes

The Power of LOVE

The new year began with me finding a new hero.  He happens to be a marvelously gifted athlete, but that is not my reason for choosing to honor this young man. His name is Justin Fields. It is true that I am proud of his exploits on the football field, and in particular his thrashing of the enemies of my treasured Ohio State buckeyes, but it was a single comment made following his sustaining of a potentially very serious and obviously painful injury on the field which I deemed heroic.

During the recent New Year’s Day game with Clemson, when sliding to the ground at the end of a run, my hero, Justin, was struck in the right lateral rib cage by the helmet of a 24-pound linebacker who dove into him as they both were running all out.  The force of the blow doubled him over and left him writhing in pain.  The force applied and location of his injuries left me concerned that the damage could be life threatening.  Although quarterbacks usually wear padding on their torsos, I couldn’t imagine him surviving this trauma without sustaining a few broken ribs or lacerating his kidney. Consequently, I was amazed to see him walk back on the field after sitting out one play, throw a touchdown pass, and be escorted into the treatment tent (more about that later) shortly before the first half ended. 

This game had received more than the usual amount of hype. It was the semi-final game in the quest for a national championship, but also was a repeat appearance of both contestants in identical circumstances.  The prior year’s game was won by Clemson with a last-minute score, and my Buckeyes had been forced to look at a poster showing the final score of that game every time they entered their practice facility.  If that were not enough motivation, there was also the fact that Ohio State was considered the underdog, and best of all, there was a recorded quote from the Clemson coach that they should not have been ranked high enough to be selected to play in the tournament as there were at least 10 other teams better than Ohio State.  He would be widely criticized (especially by the Clemson fans) for motivating an opponent, especially after losing by 21 points.

At half-time the OSU coach, Ryan Day, when asked as to the condition of his quarterback responded with the following non-answer: “He’s got the heart of a lion, and he’s gotta play for 30 more minutes.”  I would have been more comfortable with reassurances that he had been examined thoroughly by the team doctor who determined that it was safe for him to play.  I was shocked to learn that there were no X-rays taken, or what, if any, procedures were done to determine his fitness to play.  It seems to me that such an injury warranted rib films at the minimum.  I dare say that in most any other situation an X-ray would be routine, and the neglect to do so would be considered malpractice. 

At his post-game interview Justin was a model of humility. Link to YouTube Video and Link to Google Search of all Interview Results.  When asked the inane question as to how he felt about the win, he responded that he felt blessed.  He heaped praise upon his teammates, his God, and his coach, whom he said treated him like a son.  When asked how he felt about the Clemson coach’s disparaging comments, he simply replied he didn’t want to talk about that. 

However, it was the answer to the question about motivation leading to his setting sugar bowl records, that got my attention.  He mentioned that his team had been beset by disappointments throughout the season due to the pandemic, and that he was happy for them because “I love those guys.”

Deeds of valor have been favorite subjects for authors and poets throughout history.  There have been instances when soldiers have thrown themselves on hand grenades in order to save the lives of their comrades.  Soldiers who request return to combat following injuries usually do so out of concern for their buddies.  As a matter of fact, nearly all episodes of heroism arise out of concern for other people.  Psychiatrists, psychologists, philosophers, and self-endowed experts of all kinds have discussed, analyzed, and categorized the phenomenon of love ad nauseum, which usually means that they don’t have a clue.  When I was a kid, I was taught that love was a word that should be reserved for use when describing a human relationship with the possible exception of feelings for the family dog or God, but now we profess love for food, music, cars, clothing, and all kinds of inanimate objects.  We were taught to love our country, certain ideals and core values all of which had something to do with mankind.  Although love had not the exalted status of the F word or the N word, it was treated with respect. I now find the definition in the Google dictionary to include “affection for someone or something.”

My favorite definition of love is: caring for another as much or more than for oneself, but then I am a person who likes to simplify.  There is little doubt that there were multiple factors which contributed to Mr. Fields’ remarkable performance, but I was struck by his demeanor and his use of the word love.  As with most emotions, love is a word that defies description.  It can cause euphoria and unbridled pain when taken away, but is an effective antidote to hatred.  Love heals and hatred destroys.  We have all heard testimonials of people who have suffered grievous injuries at the hands of others relate how they could only find peace by forgiving those who had harmed them or their loved ones. 

My Favorite Definition of LOVE

The power of love has been recognized by the ancients, even before Jesus Christ, whose philosophy of love was first learned about by me in perhaps the most quoted of the scriptures ………THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE.  It was enhanced by a quote from of all people, an ancient Taoist philosopher, Lao Tzu, who long before Christ is alleged to have said:


Lao Tzu


Can the power of love be misused in unscrupulous ways?

Ironically, it was while writing this little essay that I heard about the assault on the Capitol.  Perhaps that is more timely than one might think, for it illustrates a thought that had occurred to me about how the use of love is often used as an unscrupulous way to influence others to do bad things.   Although these insurrectionists were involving themselves in a hateful enterprise, most of them would undoubtedly report they were doing it out of love for their country and in many cases for their revered leader who had directed them.  Their thought processes have been so distorted by the lies of Trump and his sycophants that they refer to themselves as patriots.   After all, they were simply following the instructions of the commander in chief.  Such strategies have long been the bread and butter of charismatic cult leaders. 

Indeed, Trump misused the sentiment of love in his taped message during the siege on the Capitol.

“Go home. We love you, you’re very special,” he said as the rioters attacked the legislative branch of our government, our sacred institution of democracy, and the “thin blue line” that loyal Trump followers had previously and consistently supported without question–even when police blatantly killed citizens of color without cause.

These rioters were willing to check all of their principles and values at the door for one man. Fortunately, for us, our founders knew the danger of allegiance to one man, to a king, and set up our Republic to keep that in check. Therefore, each public servant, swears an oath to The Constitution of the United States of America, not the President. Democracy is messy, often inefficient (by design in some respects) and while ours is not a perfect system of government, it is exceptional and has always been the model for countries around the world who fight for the rights these rioters obviously have taken for granted.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no anarchists or militia groups operating in this small midwestern town of mine. Nevertheless, our local paper reported a busload of 67 of our citizens heeded Trump’s call and traveled to Washington to join in the “demonstration.”

These followers heard their Dear Leader encourage them to walk down to the Capitol and fight. Unfortunately, some of Trump’s followers take him at his word….led by one man who has tapped into their anger, their need to feel important, their need to find an excuse for all of their problems, their hatred…all for “the love of Trump” which they translate to their love of country.

Link to 3-minutes of video from Trump’s Address to his followers at pre-riot rally January 6th. [Video in full is at the bottom of this post]

Who Could Have Imagined the Danger A Narcissistic Power-Driven Trump Could Cause as POTUS?

It has been a little over 3 years since I used this blog to express my opinion about what I considered to be the serious mental problems of our President when I posted the blog entitled Trump’s Mental Health. I was not alone for I was joined by approximately 80,000 other mental health professionals who shared my concerns, and published an open letter on the subject.  There had been blowback from our parent organization, The American Psychiatric Association, that decided following a lawsuit many years ago, by Barry Goldwater, that to express such opinions without a one-on-one evaluation was “unethical.”  I had predicted that when cornered, Trump was apt to decompensate and become psychotic, which indeed seems to have occurred since losing the election, as rumor has it that there are a number of indictments that await him once he leaves office. There is also the fracture of that fragile ego as he watches his cadre of sycophants abandon him.    

The assessment from those who have met him recently that he has become “unhinged” is borne out by his incitement of riotous and what some say is treasonous behavior in a direct assault on his own government.  Dr. Lee, the psychiatrist who wrote the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder in the diagnostic manual insisted that Trump did not fit that diagnosis because he suffered no distress as a result from his aberrant behaviors.  I wonder what he would think now, and does he still believe that as psychiatrists we have no “duty to warn” when we see the so-called “leader of the free world” is dangerously deranged with a high probability of becoming psychotic.  (Sorry, but I couldn’t resist doing an “ I told you so thing”).

In addition to the serious damage done to this country which may take decades to overcome, there is also the loss of 5 lives at last count.  (By the way why have we not heard who they are other than the murdered policeman or of anything about the circumstances of their deaths).  Trump’s brainwashed followers are not likely to be deterred at least for a long time, the experience of this assault is likely to whet the appetites of the really bad actors of this bunch.

Can We Heal?

In spite of all this doom gloom and despair, I was able to grab onto a glimmer of hope this morning as I tuned into my favorite guy on CNN, Fareed Zakaria.  He did an in-depth interview with Colin Powell, the guy who was conned into delivering false information about Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction which led to the Iraq war.  In spite of the long list of problems caused by Donald Doofus and his assault on democracy he was hopeful.  Although a lifelong Republican, he was convinced that Joe Biden was the right man for the job of pulling us out of the messes created by Trump.  As for the divisiveness we now experience, his answer was simple.  “always tell the truth and love each other.”

To finish where we started…O-H…


Editor’s Note: The italicized text was written by me when the author suggested I add information about Trump’s declaration of love to his followers during the siege on the Capitol.

Links of Note:

Eshrink’s Blog Post December 2020; It’s Not Over Yet: The Last Days of Trump

Eshrink’s Blog Post September 2020: An Attempt to Understand Trump Fans (Cult Followers)

Eshrink’s Blog Post: April 2018 | Trump Fatigue

Eshrink’s Blog Post: Feb 2017 | Trump’s Label

Eshrink’s Blog Post: August 2020 Is Our Republic in Danger?

Eshrink’s Blog Post: Let’s Learn from Our Past | The Most Dangerous Man on Earlth

WORDS MATTER. Transcript of Trump’s Speech at Rally that Preceded the Assault on the Capitol

Members of Hate Groups Identified at the Capitol Riot. Article by Frontline and PBS

Link to Video of Trump Speech at Rally Prior to Capitol Riot

Link to Entire RALLY held prior to Trump Speaking is below.

Super Bowl XLIX: Let the games begin!

Today, I along with over a hundred million other spectators will be tuned into watch “the greatest show on earth” (sorry Mr. Barnum).  The hype surrounding the Super Bowl leaves the World Series choking in the dust.  The gladiators will soon suit up and attempt to overwhelm their adversaries.  Many will be extremely large men, who in spite of their size will prove to be quite agile. They, along with others, will demonstrate remarkable physical attributes with innate athletic ability, enhanced by intensive training.

This is not a profession in which passivity is tolerated; consequently, most if not all, have a long history of having been trained to become more aggressive.  Their apprenticeship usually begins when they are little more than toddlers, and progresses through high school.  The most talented go on to play in college, but only a very few of those make it to the “pros.”  Since sports programs are now organized at much earlier ages, talented kids can be identified much earlier, and learn they are “special.”

Ray Rice

This has been a bad year for football in general and the NFL in particular.  The video of Ray Rice dragging his girlfriend out of an elevator as if she were a sack of potatoes after sucker punching her unconscious led to a public relations disaster further aggravated by the commissioner’s slap on the wrist.  This resulted in even more public outrage, and an indefinite suspension was ordered but rescinded following Rice’s appeal.

Adrian Peterson

The smoke had barely cleared before Adrian Peterson, another super star, was accused of child abuse after reportedly having beaten his four year old son with a stick severely enough to draw blood.

Aaron Hernandez

Of course these incidents occurred within the backdrop of Aaron Hernandez, a Patriots player, who is on trial for murder connected to the June 2013 death of Odin Lloyd.

Most would agree that football is a violent game in which serious injuries are not uncommon.  There have been serious attempts to minimize the problem; however, with the increase in size and speed of players, the forces exerted when two such bodies collide at full speed can be horrendous.  Many, if not most who have played for very many years, have experienced reparative surgery of some kind.  Violence is not only tolerated but encouraged.  Television commentators comment approvingly of a “hard hit.”  The late Jack Tatum was lauded as a “hard hitter“ and nicknamed  “the assassin” until  one of those hard hits left 26-year-old  Patriots receiver Darryl Stingley quadriplegic in 1978.  Stingley died from health problems caused by quadriplegia at the age of 55 in 2007.

Woody HayesPregame and half-time speeches are designed to nurture and enhance aggressive behaviors.  The so called fight song of my alma mater, Ohio State University (OSU), includes the phrase, “Hit them hard and see how they fall.”  Our venerable OSU coach, Woody Hayes, is said to have studied the tactics used by famous generals throughout history to formulate strategies for his game plans.

The most serious and far reaching problem of all is fortunately now gaining the attention it deserves, and affects participants of the sport at all levels.  That of course is the revelations regarding the long term effects of concussions.  A long list of retired veterans of the NFL have shown up with evidence of some type of pre-senile dementia which has been attributed to recurrent concussions.  This revelation should not have been surprising since the punch drunk boxer syndrome has been with us for a century.

There had been concerns about head injuries for at least a hundred years, and the fairly obvious solution was to protect the head.  When I was in high school the protection offered was little more than a helmet made of leather with some padding. (Link to the Evolution of the Football Helmet from The Smithsonian) 

In fact, helmets weren’t even required until 1943. Conventional wisdom would suggest that a more rigid padded helmet would offer much more protection, thus the plastic helmet was born in the 50s.  It was not long until heads protected by these rigid coverings were used as weapons, and the number of concussions seemed to increase as tacklers learned to lead with their heads.

Brains are very fragile and are protected by floating in a bath of cerebrospinal fluid, which in most instances prevents it from being damaged by sudden movements which could cause contact with the inside surface of the skull.  When very rapid movements are stopped abruptly this protection can be overcome and the brain may be bruised by being slammed against the skull.  This results in the development of the symptoms commonly seen in concussions.  Researchers postulate that repeated, such episodes eventually result in permanent brain damage. 

The rules makers have attempted to deal with the problem by adding rules against helmet to helmet contact or so called spearing with their head.  It seems to me; however, that the nature of the game is such that these so called contrecoup injuries cannot be completely eliminated by such rules.  Another well  known danger to players is the face mask which can be deliberately or inadvertently grasped by an opposing player.  Of course this is a rule violation but I doubt that the player with a broken neck would feel that a 15 yard penalty would be exactly proportionate.

Yes the NFL has a few problems, but I would not write them off for now.  Any organization which can convince 70 or 80 thousand people to travel great distances, pay thousands of dollars to watch some mayhem should not be underestimated.  Add to this a few hundred million bucks from their broadcasts, and royalties from the sale of all kinds of clothes and trinkets, and soon you may be talking real money.  It must also be gratifying to have free almost limitless advertising from the various sports talk shows.  But the shrewdest move of all has been their ability to get others (often we taxpayers) to pay for the venues in which they can display their gladiators. The draft system is guaranteed to provide some parity over the long hall to keep those loyal fans returning, but even the losing teams will share in the wealth by getting their cut of the proceeds.

That vaunted PR machine has already swung into action in order to ameliorate some of the bad press.  They have partnered with an advocacy group to let us know they are not in favor of domestic violence, and  I understand their will be a very impressive public service ad during the game to further convince us that such behaviors are unacceptable.  The news networks have interviewed many experts who are convinced that deflate gate is a red herring, and that all those coaches and players are totally committed to playing by the rules.

The concussion problem may not be as easy to extinguish, and I hear that some biddy league and high school coaches report they are noting that fewer kids are trying out.  Parents are increasingly concerned, and when the legendary football guru iron Mike Ditka announces that he would not allow a child of his play football, there is cause for concern.

As for me, I love to watch the game, but I don’t know why.  Is it the beholding of the skill of these marvelously conditioned athletes, or is it a toned down version of what those Romans went to see in the coliseum?  In any event, I will be there in front of that screen rooting for my team.  I still haven’t decided which that will be, but when I do those warriors I have selected will be fighting for me.  Go Bucks!