NFL must prioritize concussion protocol in future

One study shows the dangerous effects football has on health

Safety is becoming more of a concern in football. Study after study indicates 
that the sport is indeed harmful to athletes’ mental health.

ALONI MARTIN | The Daily Evergreen

Safety is becoming more of a concern in football. Study after study indicates that the sport is indeed harmful to athletes’ mental health.

JACOB MOORE, Former Evergreen sports editor

There was never much doubt from the public. Although football has taken up the role of America’s pastime, the impact of the sport is mentally impairing many who play it.

The Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) committee was created by the NFL more than two decades ago to shove any conversation of brain damage under the bed. It should have been more obvious.

Covering up this health disaster was in the league’s best interest. If more people knew about the hazards of football, then the popularity and approval of the league would be at risk of decreasing. There was clearly a motive to present biased information.

So, Elliot Pellman was designated chair of MTBI. Pellman, who has no experience in brain damage, was selected to silence the issue. He’s been widely criticized for his stance on concussions, saying that they aren’t serious.

We know that MTBI was wrong for implying that NFL players survive “artificial selection.” We know that the concussions issue is not just a “journalist issue” as former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue described it.

Troy Aikman, legendary quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, also understood this. That’s why he and many other players retired when they were alerted about their health. Other players are forced to retire because of their poor health.

The New York Times published a study last month proving that professional athletes don’t have superior injury-resistant brains. 110 of 111 NFL players were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — another massive attack on the league’s weak stance.

Findings from the study are just as unsurprising as the consistent repudiation from the NFL. It’s like the tobacco companies denying that cigarettes are addictive and harmful all over again.

Some might argue that more research needs to be done, and I agree. The more scientific evidence we have, the better. However, discarding the current information only to say we need more research is ridiculous. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that football is dangerous.

In recent years, some steps have been taken to resolve this issue. For example, the league introduced new concussion protocol in 2013. If an athlete shows symptoms of a concussion, then he is to be taken out of play.

However, the protocol isn’t foolproof, Erin Flynn of Sports Illustrated.

Flynn specifically cited the Carolina Panthers vs. Denver Broncos opening day game in 2016. Quarterback Cam Newton took four hits to his helmet and the last one left him dazed. He got back up to play and never went through the protocol.

If the NFL wants to prove that they are no longer fighting this issue and instead resolving it, the league must be stricter with its concussion protocol this year. If Newton — or any player — shows even the slightest risk of concussion, they ought to be taken out until their safety is ensured.

Concussion protocol should be included in all sports, but especially in football. Trying to win at the expense of your athletes’ health is one thing, but trying to hide the fact that their health is at risk is another.