SBD/August 1, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL's Goodell, Pop Warner's Butler Jointly Announce Endorsement Of Heads Up Program

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Pop Warner Exec Dir Jon Butler in a special to write that they have launched a partnership between the two entities "to endorse USA Football's Heads Up Football program." More than 20,000 Pop Warner coaches "will be trained to teach the latest techniques and make the game safer for hundreds of thousands of young players." Heads Up Football, developed by USA Football with the support of the NFL in '12, "provides a better, safer way to teach and play the game." More than 200 Pop Warner leagues will "adopt Heads Up Football immediately, and hundreds of additional leagues will follow suit in 2014." Pop Warner has "been a leader in youth sports" in the area of concussion awareness "by introducing a dedicated concussion rule, limiting contact in practice and banning head-to-head contact, and this partnership is a logical next step." Goodell & Butler write, "With this program, and many other initiatives, we are collectively creating a new culture of safety at every level of the game (, 8/1). Meanwhile, the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association this month announced that it has "endorsed USA Football’s Heads Up Football program." In Michigan, Bill Broderick notes the association "joins the Indiana and Minnesota Football Coaches Associations as the first three such organizations to endorse Heads Up Football for all youth and high school football programs in their respective states" (BATTLE CREEK ENQUIRER, 8/1).

SENDING THE WRONG MESSAGE? THE MMQB’s Don Banks noted Bengals Owner Mike Brown last week in an interview with Cincinnati-area media summed up “any potential link between football-produced head injuries and later-in-life brain damage as nothing more than ‘merely speculation,’ citing ‘our statistics’ as substantiation of his claim.” Brown said that he himself “suffered his share of concussions as a high school and college athlete, and ‘I can still count to 10.’” Banks wrote the NFL has “endured more than its share of cringe-worthy headlines in recent weeks, but Brown taking center stage to play science skeptic and quasi-concussion expert had to give the league office a headache.” At a time when the NFL is “leaning so far forward on the matter of brain injuries and player safety that it seems it could tip over, along comes Brown to frame the issue in the hazy light of the past, with a shrug and a ham-handed attempt to dismiss the whole concussion issue as guesswork that hasn’t led to any meaningful conclusions.” That is the “wrong tone, at the wrong time, by the wrong guy.” Banks asked, “Does the NFL really want Brown of all people to be messenger when it comes to handling the question of whether repeated concussions increase the risk of dementia?” (, 7/30).
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