Players and Owner Perspectives on Concussions in the NFL

Time in the summer has seemingly been slipping away from me fast.  Honestly, most of the traffic ’round here tails off in June, July and August.  However I do feel an obligation to make sure y’all keep informed.  Today here are some links from the past few days;

Priest Holmes explains that some of the concussions caused some weird side-effects/symptoms;

In some instances, the concussed can feel very much like he’s on another planet. The sky itself can change to colors the sky shouldn’t be at a particular time.

“This color obviously isn’t going to be blue. It can be a color that can be orange. It can be red. The sky could turn green,” Holmes told Chris Corbellini. “There’s even an episode where you see a clear light, like light at the end of the tunnel.”[…]

“As much as I loved it [football], that same love now has put me in situations that I have to live with,” he said.”The frontal headaches, the migraines. Laying in bed, it’s tough to get out mornings just because of the pain that is setting in with an arthritic condition, it’s things like that that you never would have really thought about.”

Accepted risk by Holmes, no doubt, however not grasping the long-term effects and really just wanting to play a sport he loved has put him in a position that makes it tough.  In related news Stephen Davis, also a former running back, recently made statements about concussions in his time as a player;

Former Panthers and Redskins RB Stephen Davis is suffering from short-term memory loss four years after retiring following a ten-year NFL career.
“The coaches and doctors try to get you back on the field regardless of if you’re hurt or not hurt or have a concussion,” Davis said. “It’s more about getting you back on the field than making sure you’re OK. If you could put your hand on your nose, you were good to go back in.”

With the recent information from Holmes and Davis along with more players joining the law suit every day finally an NFL “big wig” spoke up.  Owner John Mara of the New York Giants not only empathized with the older players and acknowledged that the league has not done enough for them, but he also made it clear where he stand on the litigation issue;

Mara told the newspaper he wants to see these men helped, but he dismissed whispers that the league has willingly concealed research about brain injuries.

“I’m on the health and safety committee, we have more medical committees looking into it,” Mara said. “We’re just starting to gather more information about it. And I’m very confident we’re doing everything we can do right now to find out more about it.

“But the notion in these lawsuits that we knew there were long-term effects and we withheld that information is ridiculous. Is there some kind of cause and effect? I don’t know, I’ll let the medical experts tell you that; common sense would tell you that there is. But to say we knew it and withheld it, I really find that objectionable.”

As one of the articles stated we are not done hearing the end of this as the suits move forward and more players have their careers come to an end and they age.  Remember this is the inherent risk with this sport at its highest level.  If you have noted our discussion on the litigation I have opined that the players face an extremely tough battle, although recently they may have caught a break, and winning a massive decision may not be in the cards.  However I do feel that both sides can win with this situation.  Mara alluded to this by having the league make sure the alumni are taken care of, well.  I do believe that is the underlying issue with the law suits (granted there are some players looking for some money) along with proper information for current and future players about brain trauma over time.


14 thoughts on “Players and Owner Perspectives on Concussions in the NFL

  1. joe bloggs July 12, 2012 / 10:32

    Well done, Mr. Mara. Mara’s family is more responsible for building NFL football than anyone else. There are problems, they need to be addressed, and the game goes on. He must get the players on board and the best way to do so is to clean house of those that created the situation on both sides, that is, managers, lawyers and doctors who were running independent agendas. He and his fellow owners and some top retirees need to sit down and work a deal out that will fairly compensate and provide real treatment for those that have built and continue to build the game. The players need to weed out those seeking undue compensation (i took a snap in camp and was cut so they owe me). Do it independently under joint owner player administration so no one has an axe to grind (leave the NFL and NFLPA out and just do it man to man).

    This group will need to address the youth game because it feeds the system and builds a fan base. It is not too difficult if all the noise, blather and spin is taken out of the room and scientists, engineers, doctors, owners and players can get to work.

    Football will never be completely safe but neither is life. They way things have been done will be changed and if done correctly for the better.

  2. Steve777 July 12, 2012 / 19:59

    They addressed these problems in boxing in 1938, to make it safer, due to Pugilistica Dementia, they mandated mouth guards and added padding to the gloves. It’s 2012 and both the NFL and NHL, only pro leagues, allow their players to go without jaw protection if they choose and in the NHL bare fisted boxing is allowed. How is this acceptable. There are some interesting comments at minute 9:30 – 10:10 of the video link below.

    • joe bloggs July 13, 2012 / 11:45


      There is no independent evidence that any mouth guard prevent or attenuates concussion in football players (prevent damage to the jaw teeth and mouth). No helmet has demonstrated that it can prevent or attenuate concussions in football players (prevent skull fractures). Headbands and helmet appliques have no independent data either.

      Dustin has done an excellent job debunking both the helmet and mouthguard myths.

      The biomechanics are not the same. Furthermore, helmets worn by boxers probably inflict more damage as the surface area and volume of the head are increased causing more torque to be produced.

      The issues afflicting professional football players are likely to be largely specific to professional football players. At earlier levels, bad coaching, poor equipment, poor fields, no ATCs and poor medical are far more problematic than the experience of an NFL player.

      This board tries to present real evidence and hard arguments and avoid mindless non-scientific hype. You should respect it. If you have independent peer-reviewed evidence present it. Otherwise, stop with the used car salesman pitches trying to get nervous parents to buy your product.

      • A Concerned Mom July 13, 2012 / 14:57

        You managened to summarize the problems at the youth level in one sentence (only thing I might add is dealing with children/teens who may not be capable of describing symptoms, the biomechanical issues unique to children, plus various developmental issues).

        “At earlier levels, bad coaching, poor equipment, poor fields, no ATCs and poor medical are far more problematic …”

  3. Dustin Fink July 13, 2012 / 11:39

    Mark or Steve777 what ever your name is… Mouth appliances currently DO NOT shot to attenuate any issues related to concussion… They do do a wonderful job of preventing oral, facial and jaw injuries; that is their limit, period.

  4. Jake Benford July 13, 2012 / 21:15

    I do not think that indivual teams or physicians knowingly put players at risk. They were practicing the standard of care at the time. The big question is did the league know about the risk and when. If they did know about the risks and long term damage and did not change league policy or diseminate that information, then they could be held liable. Its proving it that will be difficult.

    • A Concerned Mom July 14, 2012 / 08:23

      I think a lot of people at lower levels (like high school and youth coaches) had absolutely no idea how harmful concussions could be, especially multiple concussions. My concern at this point is how slowly concussion awareness is trickling down to lower levels. I find that inexcusable (Pop Warner and USA Football are informing their coaches, but in truth there are many independent leagues out there, and some hard core coaches are either skeptical or still in the dark with respect to the new concerns – and just look at how Dustin’s suggestions for reduced contact at practice were brushed aside).

  5. Jake Benford July 15, 2012 / 16:19

    I understand your frustration but I honestly believe that things have been progressing fairly rapidly. When you consider that the first concussion law was not passed until 2009 and now we have over 38 states with some type of concussion law on the books, I feel this is significant progress. Consider how long it took medicine and Society to recognize the dangers of smoking. I honestly believe that within the next 2 to 3 years most states will have some type of law restricting contact in practice.

    • A Concerned Mom July 15, 2012 / 19:25

      A youth concussion bill was signed into law in our state before my son was injured. It had a delayed effective date to provide schools with enough time to fully prepare for compliance. It also only applies to high school athletes because there is no governing body to oversee its implementation at lower levels. So, just because a state has passed a concussion law does not mean that the parents or players at the youngest levels will be provided with concussion information. Since there is currently a debate about whether or not children under the age of 14 should even play tackle football, I find it deeply discouraging that they may be the last level to see any concussion requirements. I still view the situation as unacceptable, but understand that others have different opinions.

      • Educator Mom July 16, 2012 / 10:47

        A concussion law was passed in my state after my son’s injury although a protocol was on the books for our state high school league (none of which was followed the night of his injury). Our law does apply to any sport (school or club) where a fee is involved. However there is not teeth to the law. After observing several clubs where the law was not being implemented, I asked a friend who was a legislator what enforcement was involved. She said none. The best I could do was my contact my own legislator and maybe he/she would contact the club and encourage them to comply with the law. Perhaps this is progress but it is baby steps at best. And I don’t think baby steps are an acceptable rate of progress to protect our children.

  6. joe bloggs July 16, 2012 / 11:50

    Look these laws are about managing appearances and laying off liability. Nothing more and nothing less. With due respect to Mr. Beckman, the sports culture which tried to promote games as a means of producing well balanced healthy adults has degenerated into an unaccountable out of control money circus exploiting young athletes. As he represents one of the largest helmet manufacturers, he must witnessed this disgusting evolution.

    Remember the highest paid state employee in almost every state is a land grant college football coach or basketball coach. Joe Pa ran Penn State and substitute the name of whatever local big time big money coach and he probably is more powerful than the governor of that state. Amazing are government is weaker than a glorified gym teacher.

    Things cannot continue as such. Start with disbanding the NCAA, limit coaches salaries to no more than a governor, make teams and coaches financially liable for injuries. Make sure coaches and players at big programs and in the pros play by the rules and financially pay for their transgressions.

    I am sure their is more.

    • Glenn Beckmann July 16, 2012 / 15:06

      Yes, the Lystedt laws that are being passed by state legislature’s around the country are, for the most part, sizzle with no substance. As has been pointed out, there are so many loopholes as to render the laws relatively toothless and virtually unenforceable. That’s my own opinion and does not reflect the opinion of my employer.

      Having said that, I also understand how “the game” is played. Politics are politics. Whether they are within our government, a huge, national corporation or inside the local PTA. And any time there is money involved, there will always be the desire for MORE money. That’s human nature and has nothing to do with football. The circumstances in which we find ourselves say more about human beings than they do about any team sport.

      You have to view the world of football as an inverted pyramid. At the top, you have the elite, the very best players in the world. The NFL. And the fewest number of players. Just below that, are big-time college football programs. With more players participating but still not very many – when compared to the whole.

      It is really interesting to watch the extreme opinions expressed about these topics. And to witness the specious arguments posed by some when they take isolated, singular incidents and world views and try to extrapolate them into a broad, far-reaching conclusion.

      Yes, the few dozen or so collegiate programs that have more power and money than the Vatican are guilty as charged. And yes, there are hundreds of bad coaches at the high school and youth levels – glorified gym teachers as you accuse them. But they are still the minority. For every bad one, I can show you many example of great coaches, who did it right and greatly impacted the lives of their players – on and off the field.

      Yet we are all so quick to judge, to prejudice everyone because of isolated and small world views. It’s a shame that so many believe they have to paint with such a broad brush in order to make progress.

      • joe bloggs July 16, 2012 / 15:38

        I don’t think I over generalizing. Who paid for the hollow laws? Why not just clean up the mess? I grew up in area largely focused on baseball. I remember every coach I had from 6 to 17. Most taught school by day, real classes and taught sports by night. I can say, I never had a bad coach. They new the game, taught us about life, and pushed us to perform. Rules were rigid and unforgiving. Pulling C’s got you benched, smoking and drinking benched, mouthing off to another team got you benched, unsportsman-like conduct, fighting and such, and you got kicked off the team. None of these men cared how good you were ,their job was build an adult. If you overwhelmed another team, do not run up the score. If an opponent did not know his position, our coaches would give him some aid. This was not Mayberry but it was the right thing to do. Finally, player health was Paramount. No beaning, no spikes high and no curve balls until you were 16 (even though letting a kid go earlier was advantageous for a coach – the coach would get kicked out). Cheap shots – like to the ankle and knee would result in dire personal consequences (informal retribution).

        Football is an inverted pyramid that has one of the highest referencing characteristics of almost any cultural eco-system. The NFL sets the example. If it gets it together and gets serious instead of pushing nonsense laws, the culture will filter down quickly. I can’t imagine a Vince Lombardi or George Halas tolerating the idiotic behavior exhibited in modern football. There would be consequences. Examples would be set and standards maintained. The sport needs to return to its roots – funny Lombardi was well thought of as academic teacher in a small Catholic HS in NJ almost as much as a professional coach.

    • A Concerned Mom July 16, 2012 / 16:40

      I think it may have been the attorney involved in the Lystedt case who said that insurers didn’t want to see another big payout … the waivers certainly are a prominent feature of the bill (and, there are already various immunity laws that apply for volunteer run sports leagues and school employees). Parents need to wake-up and take notice. They have to take responsibility for making sure their children are in well run sports programs, because there are a number of them out there that aren’t well run (and that applies to all sports, not just football).

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