Is the NFL's new concussion ruling the answer?
Is the NFL’s new concussion rule the answer to the overwhelming amount of head injuries that are taking place in the 2009 season?
No, but it is a step in the right direction by the league and the NFLPA. But to see this as a solution would only scream ignorance on both the league and the players.
Concussions are going to happen in football—at any level. Just as we see them on Friday nights, we will see them on college football Saturdays. And, of course, the amount we see in the NFL is enormous, but that is football at this level. It is fast, it is big and it is as violent as it gets down on those fields on Sunday afternoons.
We have seen the new helmets and the flags that are thrown—along with the fines—for helmet-to-helmet contact, but they still continue. And we are now, and only now, seeing this come to the front page of our daily newspapers because of the big names it is affecting: Warner, Westbrook, Roethlisberger, Portis, etc.
However, as much as I believe that concussions will always be a part of our favorite game and cannot be prevented, the new rule does help—in that it prevents head injuries from becoming worse after that initial contact that can sometimes knock players cold.
Here is the meat of the new rule from the league office: “Once removed for the duration of a practice or game, the player should not be considered for return-to-football activities until he is fully asymptotic, both at rest and after exertion, has a normal neurological examination, normal neuropsychological testing, and has been cleared to return by both his team physician(s) and the independent neurological consultant.”
In everyday terms, if you get dinged on Sunday, the training staff will be instructed to take your helmet, because you are done for the day. And, that same player will not be able to return to practice until he can pass a series of tests throughout the week leading up to the next game.
Like I said, a step—a big step at that—as forcing a player to sit for the remainder of Sunday is a good call, because players don’t always know when they have a concussion, and that “foggy” feeling you get after the first sign of a concussion doesn’t always register with a player—whether they are telling the truth or not.
Sure, there are other steps that need to be taken, and I have heard all of the opinions, with some going as far as saying that players should be forced to sit out the next week’s game.
Will we get to that point? Will Roger Goodell have to step in and force guys to sit out the next week, collect their paycheck and watch from the couch at home? We can’t answer that yet, but we do know that it should be discussed in time, because someone will suffer a concussion this Sunday, and the next and so on.
They are here to stay, and the league has as a problem on their hands that will require more than just a single rule.
Yesterday was a start, but it is a long road still to go.
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To read more about the Chris Johnson/Adrian Peterson debate, check out this article from Bleacher Report.