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Monday, September 13, 2010

The NFL and Rung Bells

Hurt players won't admit it.

The NFL doesn't seem clear on players who get knocked silly.

So, how about a simple rule: the league and union pay for independent local doctors (who have experience with traumatic brain injuries) to staff each stadium. If a player is suspected of having his bell rung, that player gets evaluated. If that player comes out of a game, he automatically misses the next one (at a minimum). If that player is diagnosed with a concussion, he's out a minimum of the next four. Gets his bell rung again? Out for the year.

The NFL and players' union should not continue to put these players at risk -- where the size/speed differential is great enough to cause serious, long-term damage. In addition, if the NFL is serious about increasing the schedule from 16 to 18 games, it should consider the following:

1) increasing rosters from 53 to 65 players.
2) increasing the practice squad to 10 players, and having the teams be able to keep the players on their practice squad.
3) enabling teams to activate 55 players per game.

Yes, the owners might make less money because they'll have to pay more guys. But, hopefully, with some tighter rules on injuries, the NFL will prolong careers and help its players avoid devastating long-term effects of the collisions that the average player faces over the course of a career that could go all the way back to elementary school.

All of this is meant to spur a lengthier debate regarding concussions. It's hard to read stories about so many long-since-retired players suffering from brain injuries. The NFL and NFLPA should act in concert to save players from the league, each other and themselves before someone -- Congress -- does it for them.


Blogger Roy said...

It's not clear to me that increasing roster sizes will reduce concussions. Instead, bigger rosters would mean more specialization, and each specialist plays a smaller number of plays at greater speed and intensity. Total number of concussions could rise, although each individual might be at lower risk?

11:12 PM  

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