In the aftermath of multiple instances of teams commenting on when a player will return from a concussion, the NFL has issued a simple and clear directive: Stop it.
In a memo from executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent to all coaches and General Managers, the league has directed all teams to “refrain from making public comments regarding the condition of a concussed player or speculating as to when he may return to practice and play once in the concussion protocol.”
The memo also instructs teams to respond to inquiries about concussed players by saying “that the player is in the concussion protocol under the supervision of the medical team, and the club will monitor his status.”
It’s the right approach, especially after the confusion that emerged during the on-again, off-again concussion diagnosis applied to Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. Once the player is in the protocol, there’s nothing more for the team to say until the team physician and the independent neurologist have cleared the player to return.
Jan 30, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a press conference for Super Bowl XLIX at the Phoenix Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
NFL Is In An Absolute Free Fall
With ratings spiraling out of control and week after week the mishandling of public relations the league has tried to control their teams in the hopes no one messes up and makes the league looks bad.
Funny enough the NFL makes itself look bad without the help of any of their franchises, this memo is absolutely ridiculous and is an attempt to try and hide information from reporters and the fans. Almost Belichickian in a way, but with a league that has straight up denied concussion issues this move feels like them failing to acknowledge the issue once again.
The concussion protocol is supposed to protect players but often in the NFL it seems to do the exact opposite. How many times have we witnessed a player jump right back onto the field after a hit to the head, one instance was the first game of the year in which the Carolina Panthers were on national television. QB Cam Newton was getting pummeled all game but late in the fourth the former MVP took a head shot.
Watching at home it was clear Cam should have been taken out of the game, but not wanting the star QB to be taken out he didn’t enter the concussion protocol at the referees discretion.
Oct 30, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) tries to break a tackle by Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore (24) during the second half at New Era Field. The Patriots beat the Bills 41-25. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
The NFL Is A League Run By The Few And Not The Many
The NFL is not a player run league and that is the issue, the CBA and the power lies within the commissioners office. In New England we witnessed false allegations and blatant lies land Tom Brady a four game suspension for alleging knowing that footballs may or may not have been deflated.
Football is a physical sport where the head-to-head contact is unavoidable , but when it does happen it has to be taken seriously. Why are the ratings down? Multitude of reasons but around America it is easy to see why parents are turning their kids away from football and a league that could care less about the players that make them all very wealthy.
The NFL should take a page out of the NBA’s book, now the NBA is a player run league but their concussion protocol is very strict and a player cannot return to action unless they are fully ready to. In Boston we have seen this with Al Horford who has undergone the NBA concussion protocol and has been out of action for several weeks. They are protecting him and his future, which is important. But in the NFL if a player misses weeks with a concussion most of the time they are cut or something along those lines with the guaranteed money and contracts favoring ownership.
This all is leading to a head where the NFLPA will shut down the league once the current CBA runs out. You can bet all the marbles on the players being part of a prolonged battle with the owners which will likely end with a season being lost.