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Volume 20 No. 42
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Player safety, concussion settlement

Under Commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFL has taken visible steps to make the game safer, trying to rid competition of helmet-to-helmet hits and even moving the kickoff line up 5 yards to minimize collisions.

Jerry Jones, like others, wants to ensure the physicality of the game is preserved while making the changes.

“Our game is about physical contact; that’s what it is about,” he said. “We don’t want to change that. The things that we have done have been in immediate response to any knowledge that we may have gained. … The game is built around being very physical and winning a very physical battle and testing the will of players against players. That is what we are.”

With the game now all but eliminating hits to the head, a new concern is hits to the knee, with several players this season already suffering serious injuries on such hits. Defensive players, no longer allowed to hit high, have been aiming low.
Jones for one would like to see knee braces worn by all players.

“I am a big fan of knee braces, not only in practice, [but] a big proponent of it in games,” he said. “Knee braces help, and I don’t think it impacts [play] as long as everyone is wearing them.”

The $765 million concussion settlement

Jerry Jones calls the NFL’s decision to settle its concussion litigation with the players a business decision, meaning the NFL did nothing wrong in his opinion but needed to move on. And for those who think the NFL settled so it would not have to disclose what it knew about the risks of concussions, he dismisses that contention outright.

He also notes the relative lack of information pertaining to long-term impacts of head injuries and concussions.

“One thing I did learn from this is this is an area of medicine that is not developed,” he said. “You don’t spend much time on it in medical school. Relative to kidneys or relative to other things, there has not been a lot of research to what activities produce long-term … damage [to the brain]. We know that with our visibility and the perception of our game, that being one of contact, it’s real easy to look over and say, ‘Well, there is a sport that is bound to be having some long-term impact with head injuries.’ It is easy to say.

“Certainly nothing I have ever seen on any basis, to do with any club — and I am on the injury committee — I have never seen anything that would indicate to me that the clubs knew anything. We made a business decision to resolve it [the concussion lawsuit].”

— Daniel Kaplan