Fujita To Lobby Players Association

Not only is Scott Fujita a veteran on the NFLPA Executive Committee but he is a concussion “survivor” as I call them.  Someone who has experienced the injury and managed it correctly.  Scott Fujita plays for the Cleveland Browns the same team that DID NOT perform a concussion evaluation on Colt McCoy last Thursday (in my humble opinion I think the Browns have had a very good track record up until this incident);

“The one thing I know is that when it comes to this issue, players, coaches, and team medical personnel struggle in the heat of the moment,” Fujita said earlier in the day, in an email sent both to King and to PFT.  “This has been an ongoing problem for years.  The game-day sideline is intense, there’s a lot going on, and we can’t always count on everyone to make the most responsible decisions.”

Because of this Fujita has told Peter King and myself that there will be dialogue on the matter of placing someone truly independent on the sidelines to avoid the situation;

“So when it comes to head injuries, I think the only real solution I’ve heard that might help remedy this problem is to have an independent neurological consultant on the sideline,” Fujita added.  “I think we may have missed an opportunity to properly address this as we were finalizing the CBA.  Hopefully it’s not too late to get it right.”

The plan that seems to have the most traction at the time is one put forth by Mike Florio; two independent neurologists that will handle when “buzzed” by the observer.  Although this plan is well received, Will Carroll likes it but thinks only one is needed, I feel there could be an improvement on it.

I suggest the one neurologist, like Carroll, but I think you need a couple of health care professionals that know how the “sideline environment” works.  Currently if there is no call from an observer or capitulation from team medical staff the independent neuro would not see the player.  If there were independent athletic trainers that observed on the sideline and did the initial screen from the observer it would remove the conflict of interest that could still exist with the proposed mechanism.  It would also save money and time.  If the independent AT walked over listened in, and in cases where it was “buzzed” down, took control and did a very quick concussion screen many more incidents would be captured.

Players will never be 100% truthful, that is why the team need not have the chance to plausibly deny or miss a brain injury because of other “complaints” by the player.  Have a couple of AT’s on hand, not paid by the team – rather the league, that will decipher the need for the neuro in the very unique working environment of a sports sideline.


2 thoughts on “Fujita To Lobby Players Association

  1. Jake Marshall ATC December 13, 2011 / 14:10

    I work for an LA unified highschool as a part time ATC doing game coverage for football. I generaly work with the same team and it is the school who writes the check but we are an independent entity in many respects and as a result I have no “conflict of interest” in such matters. And I will say that the coaches I have worked with (even opposing teams) are usually rather receptive to me pulling kids with concussion symptoms (so the information blitz is having some positive effects) but I am also not dealing with people making millions a year.

    Having medical staff that is independent of the “teams” would be a wonderful advancement in terms of reducing these “conflicts of interest” but it certainly has some problems.

    For one if the league is going to pay “independent” ATCs or other medical profesionals to act as concusion watchdogs, why dont they just make the teams pay into a fund or find another way to remove the “conflict of interest” that is created by the medical staff being employed by the team. This would solve the “conflict of interest problem without costing a lot of money.

    If its really a conflict of interest due to money then adding oversight from the league in the form of more medical staff (while good for those of us looking for jobs) would not be the efficient way to do it when the same thing could (and should already) be achieved by the medical staffs that are already in place. And, unless they were there for every practice like the teams staff are, then they will only be able to “oversee” during games.

    I know very little about league accounting but it seems to me like it would cost the league a lot of money to add more medical staff when teams already have a large medical staff (a couple ATCs plus team doctors of varying specialties.)

    And lets be serious no one who calls them self a “medical profesional” would be very happy to have other people looking over there shoulder constantly. I have no doubt there would be some ego battles as a result.

    I whole approve the idea of finding a way to make medical staffs independent of the teams but it can be done in a much better way.

    • Dustin Fink December 13, 2011 / 14:53

      Great thoughts and perspective. I also see those hurdles you describe, and struggle with your last point as an AT myself. Because the conflicts are there and seem to be the primary problem to me either you have concussion consultants or the teams give carte Blanche to the team med staff. Although I do believe in talking with some NFL AT’s that they do have the authority to make the correct and best interest decisions in regards to injuries, there is some pressure from other parts of the team the AT’s deal with…

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