Same Brain, Different Damage

Link to today’s strip.

The expressions in today’s strip are really something.  Panel one’s Les looks like he’s ready to burst into a whine.  “I’ve been listening to you talk forehhhhhhhver.  It’s miiiiiiiiiiii turn!”

Panel two’s Linda counters with “Gad.  Why am I talking to this excrement stain.  I could be watching TV, or eating toast.”

I’ve no opinion on the NFL-as-monster issue, though it’s pretty clear Batiuk is saying they have blood on their hands because they won’t fund Linda’s post-marriage lifestyle.  “It’s not fair.”  Well, Linda, I’d say that if Bull never played in a game, his brain damage can’t be ascribed to the NFL.  Some players have a career in the NFL that lasts years, and I’m sure their brain damage would be far worse that someone who (apparently) got his CTE while in high school or college.   The NFL can reasonably say “We don’t know who this guy is.”

Fair?  Maybe not, but life isn’t fair.  Never has been, never will be.  The NFL is not, repeat not in the business of providing health care for its players.  It exists to make money through entertainment.  That’s an argument that ought to be applied to comic strips, but somehow never is.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

28 responses to “Same Brain, Different Damage

  1. Epicus Doomus

    I have an arthritic big toe, like many former NFL players have. But alas, since I never actually played in the NFL, I’m not entitled to any NFL benefits from the NFL. Those f*cking charlatans.

    The only conceivable way he could salvage this debacle and make it sort of a “story” is if he has Linda pull an insurance scam. But there’s a 0% chance of that happening, as that’s WAY too “edgy” for Batiuk and his comic strip. He keeps trying to scapegoat (ha) the NFL here while mysteriously ignoring good ol’ Coach Stropp and Big State U or wherever Bull played college ball, which makes about as much sense as the cop or the helmet parts of the story did. I think it’s safe to say that these big attention-seeking prestige arcs have passed ol’ BatTom by. Perhaps it’d be best if he just focused on Pizza Monsters, comic books and band boxes for the rest of FW’s run.

  2. William Thompson

    Linda’s argument would make an ambulance-chasing shyster blush. Is she now going to reveal that Bull never had CTE, and his suicide was a last-ditch effort to scam the NFL?

  3. William Thompson

    “Linda, you don’t have a chance of guilting the NFL into funding you. You’d have better luck suing the estate of Sir Isaac Newton. You do realize Bull wouldn’t have fallen to his death if it weren’t for gravity?”

  4. billytheskink

    I worked temp jobs for a couple months after graduating from college, and again after a layoff about 7 years ago. For some crazy reason I never got 401K contributions from either of those temp agencies… those greedy carpetbaggers!

    Also, the continuing saga of Bull’s pro football “career” continues… we’ve gone from “contacted by a scout” to a tryout that “didn’t last long” to being on the practice squad (a regular season roster designation). In three years he’ll be captain of a Super Bowl champion!

    • Epicus Doomus

      Linda never once explained why this “NFL settlement” money was so vitally important to her. I guess we can assume she intended to use it for Bull’s future care, but she never actually said so. For the entire arc it was like her holy grail, the thing that would “save” the Bushkas from something, although we don’t know exactly what. And why is she still worrying about it now? That ship has sailed.

      • Saturnino

        “Linda never once explained why this “NFL settlement” money was so vitally important to her. I guess we can assume she intended to use it for Bull’s future care, but she never actually said so.”

        OK, so try other avenues. Did he use talcum powder? Was there asbestos in his helmet? Did he use a certain weed killer? Did he have hernia mesh? Was he HIV positive at one time and used the old drug?

        Bathack has to do SOMETHING!

        He HAS to. The snark count on Mary Worth and Luann is so much higher that he has to do something. Folks think so little of him that they don’t even snark in quantity any more, and it’s the snarking that keeps him going.

  5. Jimmy

    I was involved in high-level athletics for many years as a player and worker. This is complete and utter bullshit.

  6. batgirl

    They still don’t have actual proof of brain damage! Or did that happen offscreen?

  7. Gerard Plourde

    Bull’s ineligibility to collect from the NFL’s CTE fund isn’t news. It was established in the week-long letter reading portion of this arc.

    • Epicus Doomus

      And during the (sigh) letter reading part of the arc the NFL’s denial was portrayed as this soul-crushing setback, but we never learned why. Was she going to Bull-proof the house? Hire a nanny? Ship Bull off to live on a farm in the country? We just don’t know.

    • William Thompson

      But if she writes the same letter to the NFL again, maybe she’ll get a different answer. Remember, doing the same pointless thing over and over and expecting better results is the definition of Funky Winkerbean.

  8. William Thompson

    Life is fair sometimes, which is why the NFL doesn’t have to pay for injuries that didn’t happen to one of their players. Maybe Linda could make a case against the Westview High School District, or Big Walnut Tech, or Buck Futt, all of who were directly involved in Bull’s injuries. But there I go again, making sense.

  9. Merry Pookster

    I used to drink alot of beer at those Packer/Bear games…. but they didn’t give me a cent for my AA meetings.

  10. ComicTrek

    So, the guy who decided to introduce CTE to the strip by brutally killing off a major character for shock value and throwing in callous “jokes” at the funeral, suddenly wants us to see the NFL as bad people for not compensating a high school football coach?


  11. Paul Jones

    It’s a reoccurring nightmare, isn’t it? A character has built up some phantasm as a cure-all and when it’s denied them by reality, they spend years on end turning a vast, impersonal force into a cruel enemy that’s going out of its way to crush them because they hate Small-Town America.

  12. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    • William Thompson

      Batiuk smirks. “Stupid Times reporter should have remembered to ask me if it would be an old-fashioned suicide or one of those newfangled assisted suicides! Kids these days! All they do is play on your lawn!”

    • erdmann

      Sorry. I was trying to give a thumbs up but the stupid NFL made me hit the wrong thing.

  13. CRM114

    This strip amazes me! I’d have to go all of the way back to “Dondi” to find characters I loathe as much as those in the Funkyland.

    • Gerard Plourde

      Wow Dondi! That is reaching back. I remember encountering it occasionally in one of our local papers in the 60s. The storyline always seemed so non-engaging.

      • ComicTrek

        You can find Dondi in the Google Archives. The strip was better during the first year or two, before certain major characters were killed off. It was still passable after, but had become horrifically corny by then. After Dondi became the “all-American boy” it kind of lost the “heart” and message of what the story was really about. The corn stayed, though. And boy was there a lot of it.

  14. Banana Jr. 6000

    I’ve done a little research on this story, to see if Bull would really be eligible for the NFL CTE settlement, and how much money he would get.

    It depends on which version of his career you believe. If he was cut during tryouts, as has long been said, no, he would not. But today, Linda said Bull was on the team’s practice squad. This is a relevant detail, because FAQ #41 at says:

    One half of an Eligible Season exists if the Player was:

    (a) On a Member Club’s practice, developmental, or taxi squad for at least eight regular or postseason games

    So Bull would have one half-season of service, and therefore qualify. In one speech bubble, Tom Batiuk gave Bull the absolute minimum NFL career that would qualify for the settlement, then turned right around and he said he didn’t qualify. Top quality research as always.

    How much money would he get? I found this payment grid:

    The most important factor is that players with fewer than 5 seasons get a reduced payout of up to 97.5%. And since Bull had the fewest possible number of seasons, he must get the largest reduction.

    Other factors are the diagnosis and age. If we give Bull the most favorable of each – age 46, and Level 2.0 Cognitive Impairment – the payout for someone who played a half a season is $58,938.60.

    That’s it. And that’s the most favorable case that can be made for Bull. If we make him 50 years old and give him the less severe Level 1.5 Cognitive Impairment, it drops all the way to $19,241.

    Now, there are complexities involved in the calculation of awards. But it’s safe to say this was never a life-altering amount of money, or really even enough to care for Bull’s medical needs. The story completely failed to consider the possibility that even if Bull did qualify, it wouldn’t be for much, given his short/non-existent career.

    • Excellent work, and thanks!

      This is the sort of thing Batiuk should do, but either 1) he found out what you did and decided to ignore it for the “story” or 2) he couldn’t be bothered.

      I’m thinking #2. I seem to think “#2” a lot when contemplating this strip.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        The funny thing is, when Batiuk wanted to give Crankshaft a baseball integration story, he just went ahead and did it – ignoring the long-established character arc that World War II ended Ed’s baseball career.

        I don’t expect Batiuk to get every detail of the NFL CTE settlement right. I don’t even mind if he takes some liberties with it. But it has to matter to the story. It doesn’t. NOTHING has been explained as to why this matters. Nor have any alternatives been explored.

        Linda continues to complain about the NFL not giving them a huge check, when Bull’s eligibility is highly questionable, and she hasn’t lifted a finger to do anything else. Do they need the money? They don’t say this. And if they do, how does that square with both of them retiring before age 50?

        In the week this strip spent opening an envelope, they could have made this relevant. It wouldn’t have taken more than a line or two. “Bull didn’t play long, but if he’s accepted into the settlement, he’ll be eligible for free ongoing treatment.” Done.

        But this strip would rather spend a week wringing pathos out of opening a letter than explore any real consequences. And that’s why
        Funky Winkerbean is so hate-worthy: it’s shallow. My God, is it shallow! For something so full of death, disease, and misery, it doesn’t spend a second exploring any real human emotions. We get the car crash from every possible angle, but no actual tears at the funeral. Which is attended by 10 people, despite Bull’s influence being so far-reaching that random police officers feel compelled to lie about how he died. And nobody, least of all Linda, deals with the emotional toll of a loved one taking their own life.

        • Paul Jones

          That’s the problem. For all of his fine talk about being serious and thought-provoking, these people react to events that would leave them reeling in horrified pain in real life in a bloodless, unconcerned manner that’s really off-putting.

        • ComicTrek

          This. All of this! Funky Winkerbean has little to zero emotional depth. Even in the corniest of comic strips, there is at least emotion! Shallow pathos doesn’t make you feel much, especially not when it’s just padding.

  15. timbuys

    I think it’s just great, fantastic even, how Linda called Les over but didn’t tell him, nor did he ask, why. Completely realistic, human behavior!