A friend of ours -- a Packers fan, gasp! -- e-mailed this morning with this:

Of course I'm heartbroken that the Packers lost as I am any year, however I don't feel as bad this year for one reason: Junior Seau. Let's not kid ourselves anymore, this sport is destroying the brains of the players and I am starting to feel a little guilty for watching.

We thought he was just trying to rationalize the Saturday butt-kicking. But then we had to acknowledge that the physical toll on players is getting harder to ignore, even while watching games. The realization only became more stark later this morning when we read a story by Dan Le Batard about ex-Dolphins standout Jason Taylor.

Want to be grabbed by the throat? Here is how it starts:

As America’s most popular sport encounters a liability problem … as gladiator Junior Seau kills himself with a shotgun blast to the chest and leaves his damaged brain to study … as awareness and penalties increase around an NFL commissioner confronting the oxymoronic task of making a violent game safe … and as the rules change but the culture really doesn’t … we think we know this forever-growing monster we are cheering on Sundays. But we don’t. We have no earthly idea.

Dolphins legend Jason Taylor, for example, grew up right before our eyes, from a skinny Akron kid to a future Hall of Famer, his very public path out in front of those lights for 15 years. But take a look at what was happening in the dark. He was just a few blessed hours from having his leg amputated. He played games, plural, with a hidden and taped catheter running from his armpit to his heart. His calf was oozing blood for so many months, from September of one year to February of another, that he had to have the equivalent of a drain installed. This is a story of the private pain endured in pursuit of public glory, just one man’s broken body on a battlefield littered with thousands of them.

Read more. Rationalize that these players make choices and that Taylor would do it all over again. But read it and think.

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