Dream Come True

With the breaking news that the NFL and NFLPA will employ independent athletic trainers at games to oversee all concussion-related injuries I am extremely proud.

As a direct result of the Cleveland Browns’ failure to test quarterback Colt McCoy for a concussion on the sideline during a game, the NFL will alert all 32 teams that, effective this week, an independently certified athletics trainer will be assigned to monitor all suspected concussion-related injuries, a league official confirmed Tuesday.

Granted we were not the only ones politely asking the NFL to make necessary changes, Mike Florio and Will Carroll have also been writing about it, but I believe our blog to be the first to suggest that an athletic trainer would be best suited for this position.

I am in no way saying we were the catalyst, but there was a conversation with a NFLPA representative regarding this proposition just after the Colt McCoy incident.

The athletic trainer will have an overall understanding of minutia of sports and injuries, as well as a fundamental background on what to look for and the proper protocol.

This is great news, the NFL and NFLPA deserve a ton of credit for making this move!

9 thoughts on “Dream Come True

  1. Joe Bloggs December 20, 2011 / 18:49


    Will independent trainers be present during practice and scrimmage? Game day is one thing but as you have illustrated repeatedly practice can be the source of an enormous amount of concussions.

    • Dustin Fink December 20, 2011 / 19:36

      No to answer your question, but honestly at the professional level practice concussions do not seem to be an issue (again not reported very often), it is a much bigger problem downstream…

      I believe that the new CBA limiting hitting will have a positive impact in this manner, but yes it still remains an issue… I also believe that players not on TV are much more apt to report the issue to the team…

      Good thought…

  2. brokenbrilliant December 20, 2011 / 19:27

    Congratulations on the part you’ve played in helping the NFL make this important step forward. I have no doubt that your steady presence, clarity, and proactive approach have helped.

    Thanks for everything you do here at the Concussion Blog.

  3. Michael Hopper December 20, 2011 / 21:44

    Where do I sign up Dustin? 😉

    Hopefully this will help create some change…

    • Don Brady, PhD, PsyD, Licensed Psychologist December 20, 2011 / 22:04


      perhaps a new and better phase has begun…?

  4. SLB-ATC December 21, 2011 / 08:58


    Congrats on the part you may have played in making this happen. But I do have a question:

    Who selects these athletic trainers? League? Teams?
    If it is the league, OK. If it is the teams then there might be a question about conflict. For example I live between Nashville and Atlanta. If Atlanta chose an ATC from say Georgia Tech or UGa could there not be a potential conflict of interest? Or at least the perception of a conflict of interest? If each team were to give the league an ATC and the league then assigns those ATCs to games not involving the team that provided the name to the league office would that not be better?

    Keep up the good work!

  5. Tad December 22, 2011 / 10:16

    I commend the NFL for taking this next step in the process. I think the upside from this is tremendous with regard to concussion recognition. However, I still have concerns re: the objectivity of the actual return to play decision.

    Per NFL spokesman Greg Aiello: “The trainer will be able to monitor the entire game without distraction and inform medical personnel on the sideline of any potential head injuries.”

    This still doesn’t address the lack of an independent neurologist or other physician on the sideline making RTP decisions post-evaluation. While great for injury recognition, I still find the lack of an independent physician voice worrisome.

    • Dustin Fink December 22, 2011 / 10:45

      Agreed Tad… There should be an independent evaluator as well…

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