By Ken Reed
If there was any doubt that the NFL values TV ratings over player safety there isn’t any longer following the Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers game that kicked off the the 2016 NFL season this past Thursday.
Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton took several shots to the head in the game, including a brutal blow to the helmet late in the contest that clearly left him woozy. Newton stayed in the game but afterwards said he didn’t remember parts of the last quarter. He also said doctors were asking him questions after the game. When asked what those questions were, he said he couldn’t remember them all. Reportedly, Newton was checked not once, not twice, not three times, but four times after the game.
Here’s my question for those doctors: If you had enough concern to check him and ask him concussion-related questions after the game, why didn’t you check him and ask him those questions during the game, before he was allowed to continue to play?
The NFL supposedly made changes to its concussion protocol for this season in an effort to catch more potential concussions. The league is now supposed to have game officials, coaches, trainers, doctors, and what the NFL calls “unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants,” trained to spot possible brain trauma and injuries during games.
Let’s speak the truth here: The NFL’s concussion protocol is nothing but a disingenuous PR strategy. They want you to think that the league cares about brain injuries. What they really care about are three things: 1) exciting games, 2) exciting finishes and 3) big TV ratings (read: money). Bingo, the Broncos-Panthers game checked-off all three of those for the league’s football barons.
Anyone watching the Broncos-Panthers game could tell Newton received a vicious blow to the helmet late in the 4th quarter and that he reacted in a way that made one think a concussion might’ve occurred. Anyone that is except the game officials, coaches, doctors, trainers and unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants at the game.
Last November, St. Louis Rams’ quarterback Case Keenum was allowed to stay in the game with visible signs of a concussion. Supposedly, the NFL wasn’t going to allow that to happen again. Well, that claim lasted until opening night this season.
The NFL has now said that they are going to investigate whether or not the concussion protocol was followed properly during the Broncos-Panthers game. Can’t wait to hear the public relations BS that follows this “investigation.”
Get this, if the Panthers are found to have improperly followed the NFL’s concussion protocol following this investigation, they could be fined $150,000 for a first-time offense. That’s right, $150,000! Big whoopee. That figure amounts to less than 2,000 seats sold at the NFL’s average ticket price of $85.83. Do you think the Panthers would risk having to pay a fine of that amount in order to keep their All-Pro quarterback in a tight game down the stretch?
The average NFL replay review takes about three and a half minutes these days. Wouldn’t it have been worth it to have spent at least three and a half minutes checking Newton’s health on the field after he received that late 4th quarter blow to the head?
Apparently, the NFL’s answer is a loud “No.”
Let there no longer be any doubt whatsoever that the NFL values money a lot more than it does player safety.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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