The quarterback drops back into the pocket, surveying the field while he looks for an open receiver. Without warning, a blitzing linebacker breaks through the offensive line. The quarterback manages to throw the ball away before he gets sacked. However, he is not able avoid a jarring hit. As the quarter back falls backwards and lands on the ground, his head hits the turf with tremendous force. Despite wearing a helmet, the quarterback still suffers a severe concussion. Every week in the National Football League, concussions occur. Whether it is a mild concussion that allows a player the play the following week, or a severe one that ends a player’s season, concussions always take place.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury, which involves a transient loss in mental ability. It is caused when the brain rattles inside the skull. This can be initiated by a sudden start in motion or an abrupt stop in motion. Concussions pose a long term threat to the brain. Too many concussions can cause dementia or other mental issues later in life. With concussions being such a large problem in the NFL, what has the NFL done to reduce this issue? Surprisingly enough, they have done very little.
Although some measures have been taken to prevent head injuries in the form of concussions in the NFL, these measures have not been drastic enough. Some of the new rules put in place by the NFL to help reduce concussions include penalizing hits to the head, and hitting any players who are in a defenseless position. The NFL may have issued policies on hits to the head and intent to injure, but the enforcement of these policies, or lack thereof, is in a word, a joke. It’s the main reason why these kinds of hits won’t stop anytime soon until drastic rule changes are made judiciously and swiftly.
Roger Goodell, the insufficient Commissioner of the National Football League, recently considered an idea from one of the league’s head coaches to eliminate kickoffs as a preventative measure against high impact hits at dangerous speeds. It is a shame that the two didn’t discuss holding special teams coaches accountable for educating players on how to safely make hard tackles on kickoffs before the idea made the rounds. They also obviously did not consider the trickle down effects of these changes at the college, high school and youth levels of the game, not to mention the economics in terms of jobs lost and confused fans. Eliminating kickoffs, one of the most exciting and intriguing plays, from the game doesn’t eliminate the root of the problem, and it is not the answer here.
There’s enough blame to go around, but the flip side of this is that the athletes know the system and are willing participants all in the name of money, power and glory. Some might reason that if they are voluntarily putting themselves in harm’s way. In this case, the burden of the consequences lies at their feet, but that’s an irresponsible and inhumane perspective on many levels. However, some blame does fall on the players shoulders. In order to be cleared to play, players must undergo a five part