• Sumo

The NFL just wishes the concussion issue would go away. But it’s not going anywhere.

In fact, sports-related head trauma in general, and concussions in particular, will be one of the biggest, if not THE biggest sports issue in the next decade. The NFL will be thrust right into the middle of it.

For years, the NFL ignored the concussion issue, then they disputed it, then they simply downplayed it. Now, after a variety of player lawsuits, and a growing mound of evidence indicating that brain trauma from football activities can lead to multiple physical, mental and emotional problems — both in the short-and-long-term — the most popular professional sports league in the United States is finally taking some positive steps.

But those steps don’t come easily. In fact, they seem to result only after new research reports or controversial stories. For example, in reaction to the Cleveland Browns questionable treatment of quarterback Colt McCoy after he was hit on the head during a Dec. 8th game, the NFL will now pay for a certified independent trainer, not affiliated with either team, to be at every game to assist in checking for possible concussions. The trainers will be approved by the players union. The policy unfortunately falls short of having an independent neurologist on the sidelines at every game to perform concussion checks.

The NFL should be leading the movement on concussion prevention and awareness. Instead, they’re having to be dragged by their fingernails to address the issue and most of their concussion-related actions to date feel more like public relations tactics than a deep concern and appreciation for the seriousness of the issue.

That approach needs to change.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans

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