SBD/November 14, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Columnists Weigh In On NFL Concussion Policy Following Sunday's QB Injuries

Smith stayed in Sunday's game for six more plays after the concussion-inducing hit
Following head injuries to prominent players during Sunday’s NFL games, several columnists weighed in on the league’s concussion policy. In Columbus, Michael Arace writes Eagles QB Michael Vick, Bears QB Jay Cutler and 49ers QB Alex Smith “stayed on the field after taking shots that should have raised red flags.” Arace: “What about the NFL’s concussion protocol? It is fair to wonder whether it is accepted as a critical endeavor or a mere nuisance” (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 11/14). In DC, Mike Wise writes, “Boy, the NFL is sure safer these days.” Wise writes of NBC’s Cris Collinsworth praising Cutler for continuing to play after receiving a helmet-to-helmet hit, “Isn’t it beautiful how the education and new-found sensitivity just sinks in and makes such a difference?” But “we get nowhere if the culture on NFL fields can’t change, if the language of ‘shake it off’ and ‘dinged’ is allowed to continue.” Wise: “The culture of violence in football is simply too profitable and too in-demand to completely overhaul. The only way real change happens is if [49ers coach] Jim Harbaugh doesn’t leave Alex Smith in that game for six more plays; if Cris Collinsworth skewers the Bears’ medical team for not checking on a groggy Jay Cutler; if [Ravens LB] Ray Lewis tells kids, via a PSA, why hard hits are okay and headhunting isn’t; and, yes, if [Saints QB] Drew Brees, a son of football-mad Texas, has the guts to tell America his kid isn’t playing tackle football before age 14” (WASHINGTON POST, 11/14).

CAMPAIGN PROMISES: The AP’s Jim Litke writes under the header, “Goodell An Honest Broker On Concussions?” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “to his credit … was on the hot seat less than a year when he pushed the league, which was slow to react to anecdotal reports, to begin making up for lost time.” But Goodell “can't legislate cooperation from his players; his only power in those matters is coercion.” He also “can't claim the mantle of leadership when he's crammed the games closer together, moving one to Thursday night each week.” Litke: “Almost as troubling is the leadership role Goodell has embraced at the head of an increasingly disingenuous PR campaign aimed not at the players, but squarely at the fans” (AP, 11/14). In DC, Deron Snyder writes quarterbacks have “their set of rules intended to protect them, not solely because they’re so vulnerable in the pocket, but also because they’re so valuable in TV ratings and crucial to a team’s success.” Snyder: “It might be time to create a set of enhanced concussion rules for quarterbacks, removing them from action (at least temporarily) sooner rather than later after significant blows” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/14).

SHORT WEEK: In Miami, Adam Beasley reports with the NFL’s “ongoing emphasis on player safety, some believe that scheduling these Thursday night contests sends out some serious mixed messages.” Dolphins LB Kevin Burnett said prior to tomorrow's game against the Bills, “Is playing a game on Thursday vs. playing a game on Sunday the best thing to do? No. But, hey, if (the public) want to see it, of course guys are not going to turn it down.” Burnett added, “If we’re going to make player safety an issue, let’s make it an issue all the way across the board. It’s an issue only until we’re making money. Let’s make it an issue, and let’s keep it consistent.” But Dolphins TE Anthony Fasano sees Thursday night games “as a positive.” Fasano by playing tomorrow will “have a rare weekend off.” NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello said that the NFL has “gotten similar feedback from the players’ union” (MIAMI HERALD, 11/14).
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