This week, we take a look at a conundrum that surrounds this sport, and will as long as it is in existence. Has the league made improvements on this? Yes. But will it always be a problem? Again, yes. This week’s lecture is on head injuries.
Take your seats, class is in session.
The steps that have been made have been in the area of making sure players are ready to get back on the field. Once a player has been ruled out of the game with a concussion, there is very little chance of a player coming back the next week if they are still injured. The baseline tests, followed by the entire protocol that the player has to go through before being cleared is excellent. The fact that an independent doctor has to clear the player, along with the team doctor makes the idea that they will force a player back early next to impossible. The doctor has no stake in it, so a concussed player will not come back a week early.
The problem is, and will always be, during the game. Players are always going to be dishonest about their health during the game, whether they mean to be or not. When I say “not”, listen to the players, and former players, talk about head injuries. When the brain is injured, they don’t know it. They can bounce up, thinking they are OK, and be absolutely not OK. Curtis Martin, during his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, talked about getting right up, going back to the huddle for the next play, and then being told he was in the WRONG HUDDLE! Sometimes, the player gets up, seemingly OK, and doesn’t even remember what is going on! How do you stop that, without getting guys hurt worse? It’s very difficult, despite the work that Roger Goodell and his team have done.
The players association would like to have neurologists at the game, feel it would enhance player safety. Despite my opinion that typically, DeMaurice Smith is an idiot, he is right on the money with this one. Only a head specialist is going to be able to see through the behavior of a player and know if they should be looked at or not. Even then, if they are not on the field, how are they going to know everything? They won’t. That is why this is always going to be a problem. One that the league is stuck with until the end of time.
School’s out. See you next week.