What Are Concussions Costing NFL Owners?

I was approached by a reader to figure out what concussions are “theoretically” costing owners/teams in terms of salary.  His thought, a good one, was to illustrate the economic impact to the NFL and owners that an investment in a completely independent concussion “think tank” could save money in the long run.  The last time we ran the numbers was in week 13, we are efforting the final numbers for 2011.

There were some limitations in determining this overall impact to the owners:

  • Finding exact contract information for each player
  • Determining exact loss of game time due to concussion
  • Exactly accurate listings of injury

To our knowledge there is no published information on this topic, therefore this presentation of information is the first of its kind, and we truly understand that this is not 100% accurate, but it does give an idea of what is happening in terms of concussion and lost salary.

Based upon our findings the average salary for a concussed player/game in the NFL through 13 weeks was $120,000.

If every concussed player – through 13 weeks (122) – in the NFL ONLY missed a half of a game (VERY CONSERVATIVE) it was costing the owners $7,320,000.

Extrapolating that information on the total concussions of the regular season in the NFL this year (final report due next week) AND averaging one missed game for each player the total comes to a staggering number…

$20,520,000 or $640,00+/team

If we were to just keep it very conservative as only a half of a game missed the money is still very high at $10,260,000.

The overall impact for concussions may, in fact, be more than the above number due to length of being out.  This information will not only impact players salary in the future to combat the loss by the teams, but it can be possibly lessened with solid research and adjustments.

Part of the process, in my mind, of proper handling of concussions is to manage the injury correctly.  This may include actual longer periods of missing games, therefore more “lost” money, however with proper management there could be fewer injury recurrences and placing of players on the injured reserve.  There is a lot to think about, but if the owners want to see the financial impact of concussions on their teams bottom line, this is what they have.  We will be getting a final number put together for presentation as soon as possible, regardless this should be a wake up call.

I would hope that the owners and NFL understand that spending a fraction of the lost money on research and development to a TRULY independent “think tank” their investment could save them money in the long run.  In my mind the “think tank” will be honest, and most likely recommend things that the NFL may or may not want to hear.  This group would be very forthright and open in the process, it wont be easy do digest at some points in the process. I also understand that the Players Association would have some certain things to say about information and recommendations, that is why the players too should invest in this “think tank”.

However, there will be no shortage of concussions in the near future, handling them correctly from the point of injury and finding ways to abate them will only benefit the pocket books of the owners.

Thanks to NS for help on this!

Dear NFL, Owners and NFLPA, I am available for this process.


3 thoughts on “What Are Concussions Costing NFL Owners?

  1. Dr. Michael Gruttadauria January 7, 2012 / 10:14

    This is a valuable and timely post. I agree with you 100% that owners need to look at the long term future of the player (and associated finances) rather than trying to get players back on the field when they are ‘symptom free’. We work with many athletes at all different levels, from young kids to professionals in all sports. When there is money on the line, there is an expectation by players and management that they will be cleared to play ASAP.

    Understanding the biochemical long term manifestations of this injury, it is critical to be objective when making decisions about their playing future abd long term health. We use advanced functional neurological testing to help us make these decisions. There are no ‘judgement calls.”

  2. Joe Bloggs January 7, 2012 / 20:29

    I believe a more detailed analysis should be conducted for NFL.

    Interestly, the NHL offers a far more compelling example. The central question how much has loss of Sidney Crosby cost the NHL becuase of poor concussion managment. He is this generation’s Gretsky. How much did the Lindros borthers retirement cost and so on.

    The gross and irresponsible mismanagement of NHL concussions has cost the league tens, if not, hundreds of millions dollars. NHL owners should fire all of their so-called advisors because they are costing them a fortune.

  3. brokenbrilliant January 8, 2012 / 09:19

    And look at the long-term impact of inaction — how many parents are going to keep their kids out of football, because the prognosis for actually having a life worth living after your time on the gridiron is done, isn’t that great? Most parents would like to eventually have healthy, well-adjusted grandchildren who have mentally, physically, and emotionally intact parents. And they’d like their kids to not be damaged to the extent of folks we’ve seen in the news over the past year.

    It’s truly scary for parents who are paying attention. I know a guy who is an avid football fan — he played in high school and is a fantasy football devotee. But he’s considering keeping his two kids out of Pop Warner because of what he’s learned lately. I’m sure he’s not the only one.

    If the NFL remains inactive on this count, and they don’t do something public that’s proactive and, well, obviously smart, they could have a problem with a rapidly shrinking talent pool over the next decade or so.

    It will also be interesting to see if there’s a marked surge in participation in sports like tennis and golf over the next ten years.

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