Thursday, December 29, 2011

NFL and Concussions, Pt. II

In light of recent events in the National Football League, the focus on concussion trauma is even more under a microscope. The fire reignited recently when Colt McCoy of the Cleveland Browns was hit in the head by none other than Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison. While I defended Harrison’s fined hits in the past, I knew from experience playing football at any level that while Harrison could argue McCoy was a runner, he lowered his helmet but didn’t go low to hit McCoy in the midsection as has been specified by the NFL. While many of the rules for hitting “defenseless” receivers or QB’s are still extremely lousy there is no black & white on proper or improper technique, rather all gray area, I felt this hit was appropriately judged and interpreted on the field and after the game by refs and the league.

The problem with the hit wasn’t even as big a problem which lead to this post as what happened with McCoy afterwards. We knew it was a violent shot to the head, and McCoy never grabbed anything while he lay on the ground following the hit to suggest he was hurt anywhere other than head/neck/spine. But when he was examined on the sideline, the only focus was on his hand, and a very dazed McCoy returned to the game 2 plays later to play. It was determined after the game that McCoy had a concussion.

The NFL was already in legal dispute (hardly battle) with former players due to head trauma and lack of focus, awareness, and assistance in treatment of injuries to the head/brain of former and current players in the National Football League. The NFL’s swift and decisive decision was to place a specialist on the sidelines of NFL games who could determine whether a player was fit to return to the game after a possible concussion. This is what was proposed years ago, it was about time it happened. But a recent article I read said surveys of players from all 32 teams around the NFL suggested players were willing to hide knowing they had a head injury to play in the game and not deal with trainers and/or specialists being placed on the sideline. It flirts with the barbaric lines of toughness, earning bonuses for playing (which you cannot collect if you’re short 3 yards and your game/season was ended by a specialist on the sideline), and the outright will to play and win. But of all the players surveyed (I’m assuming it’s almost all players to get a proper estimate seeing as the NFL legitimately does take this serious), most also said they’re concerned enough with their health and prefer the benefits the NFL would be forced to offer to players who suffer head trauma.

My question to any player who suggests he’d hide his concussion… would you be willing to sign a waiver that if you do suffer head/brain trauma, the NFL would not be responsible for any damages, payment for treatment, or liable in any potential lawsuit brought forth at a future date? I know you wouldn’t be willing to do that, you know you wouldn’t be willing to do that, and everyone in the world knows it. So why even hint or suggest you’d do something that could damage your health, wellbeing, and/or life?

I understand wanting to be tough, play through injury, get the bonus for those stats you need, etc., but if you’re not willing to accept legal responsibility for your actions/decisions, why should the National Football League care or be required to help you if something happens to you?

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