Runyan on concussions, race for congress

When a student athlete gets head trauma, the New Jersey Assembly wants him out of the game. “Mandating – by law – that students who receive head injuries during a sports game must be removed from play until cleared by a doctor, will keep them from doing irreparable harm to themselves in an effort to ‘look tough,’ ” said Thomas P. Giblin (D-Essex) in a press release.

With legislators taking interest in sports-related head injuries, former Eagles lineman Jon Runyan, Republican candidate in the Third Congressional District, told PolitickerNJ today that he understands the motivations of the legislature.

“It’s something that needs to be addressed,” he said, adding that the NFL has finally taken up the charge as well. “You really have to protect people,” he said, especially student athletes whose brains are still forming.

The bill, A-2743, was unanimously approved by the Assembly in June and has been referred to the Senate Education Committee for further consideration.

The congressional hopeful said he has had a “handful” of concussions, although many minor head traumas go unreported in the world of the NFL.

There was little information about concussions available to young athletes in his day. Runyan remembers the attitude toward head injuries when he was growing up to be: “Toughen up and get back out there.”

Now, he said, early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia seem to be the long-term effects of the “toughen up” era. “They’re just in the infancy of studying this stuff,” he said.

On his campaign in general, Runyan’s answer to allegations that he’s an invisible candidate, not to be found on the campaign trial: “Talk to my wife about that.”

He said he has been spending time away from his family, meeting with regular people who give him new stories about the same three things. “Spending, economy, jobs,” he said.

Still convinced that Tea Party candidate Peter DeStefano was planted by the Democratic incumbent John Adler (D-Cherry Hill), Runyan said he has found no further evidence.

“That’s a daily grind,” he said of the search for proof, and the campaign in general.

DeStafano has said publicly that no matter how he got there, he has a right to run for office.

Would a set-up by the Dems make DeStefano’s candidacy some perverse permutation of the democratic process? “It depends on what the facts are at the end,” Runyan said.

  Runyan on concussions, race for congress