The NFL’s Concussion Problem

Fisher DiSimone, Staff Writer

How Will the NFL Minimize Devastating Head Injuries?

After the recent TNF games (Dolphins vs Bengals and Broncos vs Colts), the conversation about concussions in sports is rising. Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa went down with a scary injury just a week after he had a possible concussion, and Colts runningback Nyheim Hines couldn’t walk after a devastating hit and was helped off the field.

What is the solution? Players cannot keep going out there and killing their brain with every single hit they take. Some players have careers up to 15-20 years and have substantial mental effects like chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has a concussion protocol in place to prevent players from playing through concussions. A quick overview of this protocol: after the injury, that team’s medical staff needs to check the severity of the injury, what side-effects the player has, and how he responds to tests. On game day the following week, they test the player again, and 60 minutes before kickoff they have a meeting to decide if they can clear this player for the game or not. Despite this, concussions are still happening every week and there is little decline. As said before, one of the major mental effects is CTE. Over the course of a long (or even short) NFL career, players get hit quite a lot as the sport of football is physically demanding. Some major side effects of CTE are aggression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, depression, dementia, Parkinson’s, and brain trauma, among many others. There are many players who are now retired who have suffered from the consequences of their careers. In order for the NFL to minimize concussions and long term injuries, they must upgrade and enhance their equipment. The NFL needs to somehow engineer helmets, padding, or other protective gear that can minimize injuries substantially. Kevin Seifert, an ESPN Staff Writer says, “The incidence of concussions involving helmet-to-helmet hits had risen from 33 percent in 2015 to 46 percent by the end of last season.” Helmet-to-helmet hits have been a major cause of concussions and part of it is the helmet not protecting the player enough. Seifert also states, “A cross-referencing exercise revealed that the poorest-performing helmets also had the highest incidence of concussions on the field. That correlation prompted the NFL and NFLPA, for the first time, to ban the 10 models with the worst scores. The tests covered virtually all of the helmet models in use by NFL players, and the ban forced about 200 players to change helmets.” Yes, the NFL has been taking measures to stop this; however, the full solution is still yet to be found.

The NFL and the entire sports industry still has a long way to go. Injuries have been a long-lasting issue, and a world without them is ideal for the future of sports as a whole. Whether methods in equipment, medical staff, or treatments, measures need to start now to create a favorable and safe sports environment for the players, coaches, and fans.