Earlier this week, the US House of Representatives' Committee on the Judiciary convened a forum entitled: "Key Issues Related to the Identification and Prevention of Head Injuries in Football."
The panel was comprised of ten witnesses and experts: 6 doctors, 2 former NFL players, 1 mother of an injured college player, and Texas Tech Vice Chancellor Charlotte Bingham.
The two hour and sixteen minute hearing was chaired by California Representative Linda Sanchez, about thirteen minutes of which were allocated to Ms. Bingham' testimony and responses to questions.
I've edited the clip below to focus on the testimony specific to Leach's dismissal. If you want to watch the entire session, you can click here (you will need to Real Player to watch).
Edited videos after the jump.
Ms. Bingham's testimony starts 49:53 minutes into the hearing:
Feel free to draw your own conclusions about Ms. Bingham's characterization of events.
In addition to recounting Texas Tech's version of Leach's alleged treatment of Adam James, Ms. Bingham also applauds Texas Tech's adoption of NFL standards for player injury management such as baseline testing of athletes involved in contact sports prior to injury.
Ms. Bingham notes that athletes under Leach were discouraged from reporting injuries.
A number of Ms. Bingham's statements and comments she attributes to Leach are directly refuted by Leach's sworn affidavit. There are a number of other eyebrow raising assertions as well.
Ms. Bingham concludes that Leach was fired by Texas Tech. She suggests that Leach's alleged treatment of James led to his dismissal, but does not also mention his alleged insubordination.
The next clip includes a question and answer session between Ms. Bingham and Chairwoman Sanchez at the 2hour and 6 minute mark.
In this clip, Chairwoman Sanchez asks Ms. Bingham how injuries are reported at Texas Tech.
Ms. Bingham responds that players at Texas Tech have access to trainers, doctors, and other avenues to report injuries or misconduct by coaches.
Congresswoman Sanchez does not ask why Texas Tech's trainers or the doctors failed to report Leach's alleged misconduct to the athletic director or other officials.
In the discussion immediately following Ms. Bingham's exchange with Sanchez, two former players describe a culture of silence regarding injuries in the NFL.
Out of curiousity, does anyone here believe that such a culture of fear existed at Texas Tech in general or in Adam James' case specifically?
The Good Doctor
Ms. Sanchez's oversight does not escape Dr. Thomas Mayer, medical director of the NFL Players Association:
Dr. Mayer comments on Ms. Bingham's responses to Ms. Sanchez as follows:
Where was the medical staff? Did someone not say, ‘Well excuse me, putting a player in a dark room and with no stimuli and standing them up is not a treatment for concussions?'It may a punishment for defying a coach, but I think we've got to look long and hard at what are the qualifications and what are we demanding of team medical staffs in terms of players as patients. ‘
Ms. Bingham does not respond.
Dr. Mayer's response also provokes key questions which have been overlooked throughout this case.
Ms. Bingham at once praises the medical staff, the trainers and policies and procedures adopted to protect players, while completely absolving the trainers and doctors of responsibility for failing to report or prevent James from being placed in the medical-athletic shed or the media room (both locations which were selected by the trainers).
This seems a contradiction.
Is it possible to be a great trainer, yet cower in fear of a head coach?
Is it possible to have comprehensive policies and procedures that can so easily be overwhelmed by the demands of a supposedly tyrannical coach?
Is Ms. Bingham making the claim that a supposed culture of silence extended to the team's doctors and training staff?
Would the doctors and training staff risk losing their own licenses to concur with such a claim?
If Leach was indeed responsible for deciding how to treat James, then are the trainers and doctors therefore guilty of abdicating their responsibility?
If Leach made the decision to place James in the athletic training-medical shed, why didn't trainer Steve Pincock overrule the Coach's orders? If Pincock did not feel that he could contradict Leach's orders, why did he not report the incident to his superior, head trainer Mark Chisum? Why did Chisum, a trainer for over 28 years (14 years at Texas Tech), who in his testimony admits to being aware of James' placement in the shed and the media room, not intervene on the player's behalf?
If the trainers made the treatment decisions, and if the actions were inappropriate or detrimental to James' health, should not the trainers also be held responsible for James' care?
In either of these circumstances, it seems that Texas Tech's trainers have received a free pass throughout this affair.
The fact that the trainers remain on staff raises more questions about the legitimacy of Texas Tech's actions toward Leach.
If the Administration felt it had no choice but to fire Leach as a result of his alleged actions treatment of Adam James, what about the trainers?
Edited for grammar May 29, 2010