Commissioner Roger Goodell and medical personnel from all 32 teams are attending a seminar at John Hopkins University today "to go over all the data and information concerning the long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries in football players", according to Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com.
Dr. Richard Ellenbogen and Dr. Hunt Batjer are the new co-chairmen of the NFL's head, neck and spine committee.
"We need to know what kind of helmet technology will prevent concussions, but that’s only part of the picture," said Ellenbogen, the former chief of neurosurgery at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. "The NFL wants this committee to look at the ‘return to play’ (rules) and dissect them carefully. They also want us to go to the best researchers in the world and ask what is it that we need to do that we’re not doing to protect the player and make it safer. Sit them out longer? Are there cognitive exercises they can do to heal better? All that (research) is being done at the same time."
Last season the NFL cracked down on players who had received a concussion re-entering a game.
According to reports, Zach Thomas has an unresolved grievance against the Chiefs claiming they released him while he was injured. The Chiefs parted ways with Thomas prior to last season after he reportedly suffered a head injury. The Chiefs reportedly claim he was medically cleared before he was released.
While the NFL's efforts are admirable, it's still nearly impossible to address all concussions. There are certain players out there who won't tell the teams when they're injured because of the perception that some teams view injuries as a weakness. If you're on the roster bubble, and have a head injury, a player may not want to say anything for fear of losing valuable time on the field.
Take Quinten Lawrence for example. He hasn't participated in all the OTAs because of a shoulder injury suffered last year. Todd Haley said the team didn't realize the severity of the injury last year and Lawrence didn't want to come off the field. Luckily the injury isn't serious but what if it was a concussion-related injury? Would Lawrence have brought it to the team's attention? We don't know the specifics of the Lawrence situation so I'm speaking hypothetically here but there's only so much team doctors can see without getting the full story from the player.
That said, the NFL has imposed more rules regarding concussions in the NFL. Independent neurologists are being utilized and players must be medically cleared by an on-site doctor before re-entering a game after a head injury.
The NFL is doing a good job, I think, with taking this issue more seriously but unfortunately, because of the reason listed above, there may never be a perfect fix.