NFLPA wants doc removed from concussion committee

The NFLPA is trying to get Dr. Ira Casson, the co-chairman of the NFL’s committee on concussions, ousted, reports the New York Times.

Football brain injuries are front and center, especially after the NFL’s appearance on Capitol Hill last month before the House Judiciary Committee. It was there that Casson, a neurologist for the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, was criticized by some committee members for his opinions and handling of the study of dementia in retired players.

“Our view is that he’s a polarizing figure on this issue, and the players certainly don’t feel like he can be an impartial party on this subject,” said George Atallah, the union’s assistant executive director for external affairs, to the Times. “The meetings between Roger (Goodell) and (NFLPA executive director) DeMaurice (Smith) are private and we like to maintain confidentiality, but I believe there were concerns expressed by both parties.”

Casson has been a member of the league’s committee on concussions since it was formed 15 years ago. He became the co-chair two years ago. What the NFLPA has taken issue with is his track record of dismissing every outside study that finds links to dementia and other brain issues.

The NFLPA wants the league’s study of retired players to be revamped after Casson is removed.

“DeMaurice has expressed concern to Roger about Dr. Casson’s impartiality in this role, based upon his research and comments, about his ability to do the job, period,” Atallah said. “We have a mandate from the players to request this. His removal is not a single act. His removal is something that we feel is more of a move by the league to move into the next phase of protecting players and making the game safer.”

The NFL essentially had no comment in regards to Casson in an e-mail to the Times.

“We can tell you that we have already informed the NFLPA of a number of steps we are considering relating to player health and safety,” league spokesman Greg Aiello said. “Mr. Smith did not initiate a discussion about Dr. Casson with the commissioner, and we don't know what purpose is served by raising it publicly at this time.”

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