Unless you've been living under a rock this year, you're probably somewhat familiar with Deflategate, the controversy over the New England Patriots allegedly tampering with the footballs used in their AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts in January of this year. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was suspended for four games as a result of the scandal, and has continued to receive flak from many NFL fans (and about 20,000 beer cans).
But the quest to dig up dirt about Brady has revealed some other unbecoming details of his career. As it turns out, America's fallen hero of pro football once endorsed NeuroSafe, a highly questionable sports drink that promised to "protect your brain from the consequences of sports-related traumatic brain injury" by using "patent-pending," "scientifically proven neuroprotective compounds," according to supplement's long-inactive Facebook account, at least. In short, it was advertised as being "a seat belt for your brain." (The brand that made the drink, 6 Degree Nutrition, went out of business sometime around 2011, according to NBC Sports.)
"NeuroSafe makes me feel comfortable that if I get a concusion [sic] I can recover faster and more fully," Brady said in the sport drink's advertising.
Russell Wilson isn't the only one, Tom Brady sponsored an anti-concussion powder called "Neurosafe" pic.twitter.com/lzlSHlEcek
— Jack Moore (@jh_moore) August 26, 2015
Brady's endorsement of NeuroSafe was recently brought to the world's attention again after Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was criticized for promoting a similar product called Recovery Water, claiming that it prevented him from getting a concussion during a game. (The water's secret weapon against traumatic brain injury? "Nanobubbles.")
Recovery Water's "nanobubbles" and NeuroSafe's "essential minerals" make it sound as though the sometimes devastating physical hits taken by professional athletes can easily be chugged away with glorified, sports-marketed versions of Vitamin Water. Those claims, however, are unsubstantiated.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that anywhere from 1.6 million to 3.8 million concussions occur each year, with a whopping 75 percent concussion risk for males who play professional football. Concussions—particularly repeated incidents—can and often do result in memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, aggression, depression, anxiety, suicide, Parkinson's Disease, and, eventually, progressive dementia. In 2013, ESPN reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru released the book League of Denial (adapted into a documentary film by PBS and Frontline) about the NFL's attempts to cover up the risks of brain damage from sports-related concussions. That same year, the NFL agreed to pay more than $765 million in settlements for concussion-related lawsuits filed by roughly 4,500 former football players.
Being able to drink away these risks is a nice idea, but a highly unrealistic one. Guess NeuroSafe, like DeflateGate, will have to get thrown in the "scams" bin.