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Goodell imposes new return-to-play rules for concussions

As widely expected, the NFL has promulgated new rules regarding the ability of a player to return to action after suffering a concussion.

Commissioner Roger Goodell informed the clubs of the new rules today.  They take effect with games starting this week.

“The evidence demonstrates that team medical staffs have been addressing concussions in an increasingly cautious and conservative way,” Goodell said in a memo to the 32 teams.  “This new return-to-play statement reinforces our commitment to advancing player safety.  Along with improved equipment, better education, and rules changes designed to reduce impacts to the head, it will make our game safer for the men who play it, and set an important example for players at all levels of play.”

The official NFL statement provides as follows:  “Once removed for the duration of a practice or game, the player should not be considered for return-to-football activities until he is fully asymptomatic, both at rest and after exertion, has a normal neurological examination, normal neuropsychological testing, and has been cleared to return by both his team physician(s) and the independent neurological consultant.  A critical element of managing concussions is candid reporting by players of their symptoms following an injury.  Accordingly, players are to be encouraged to be candid with team medical staffs and fully disclose any signs or symptoms that may be associated with a concussion.”

Under the new rules, players should be prevented from playing if the demonstrate any of the following symptoms:  (1) loss of consciousness; (2) confusion as evidenced by disorientation to person, time or place, inability to respond appropriately to questions, or inability to remember assignments or plays; (3) amnesia as evidenced by a gap in memory for events occurring just prior to the injury, inability to learn and retain new information, or a gap in memory for events that occurred after the injury; (4) abnormal neurological examination, such as abnormal pupillary response, persistent dizziness or vertigo, or abnormal balance on sideline testing; (5) new and persistent headache, particularly if accompanied by photosensitivity, nausea, vomiting or dizziness; or (6) any other persistent signs or symptoms of concussion.

The move represents the latest development in a stunning series of measures aimed at dramatically changing the culture when it comes to concussions.  As the controversy involving Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and receiver Hines Ward demonstrates, it won’t be easy.  Still, the shock-and-awe-style approach from the league office has persuaded most folks in and around the league to realize that times have changed.

So the next time Congress holds a hearing regarding a matter pertaining to private industry that seemingly is unrelated to the “more important things” our federal servants should be doing, keep in mind the fact that the House Judiciary Committee has done more to address the problem of head injuries in football than anything that anyone previously has done about the issue, combined. 

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29 Responses to “Goodell imposes new return-to-play rules for concussions”
  1. nfcbeast says: Dec 2, 2009 6:17 PM

    This is great, I just hope that players are honest about having symptoms.
    The instant i read this i began thinking about how some player might use these rules to their advantage and “fake” it.
    Disgruntled players with piss poor character may see this as a way to still get paid and do nothing.
    Cough, cough…I see T.O. getting “concust” soon if Fitzpatrick doesn’t pleasure him proper.

  2. chapnasty says: Dec 2, 2009 6:18 PM

    “So the next time Congress holds a hearing regarding a matter pertaining to private industry that seemingly is unrelated to the “more important things” our federal servants should be doing”
    Smartest thing I have evr read on this site. However, I still think that it should be mandatory to sit out the next game. Something tells me though that this will just lead to more players lying about symptoms so they can get back on the field.

  3. Florio's Biatch says: Dec 2, 2009 6:19 PM

    Promulgated?
    Seriously?

  4. golongboyee says: Dec 2, 2009 6:30 PM

    This is just a CYA effort by the league……has nothing to do with, nor will it help the problem.

  5. JPeezy says: Dec 2, 2009 6:42 PM

    Does everybody else find it odd this rule comes out the week after Roethlisberger and Warner mysteriously were scratched late in the week despite practicing fully all week?
    I am 100% convinced Goondell made the Cards and Steelers sit their QB’s this week in an effort to further his agenda of taking absolte power over all decisions in the NFL. That man is the biggest dictator on the plane!

  6. Buffalo Hogan says: Dec 2, 2009 6:50 PM

    And cue the greatest football/concussion commercial ever…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPRscxQZs8E
    Florio – If you havent seen this I reccomend embedding it in the post; as an update of course.

  7. Nathan says: Dec 2, 2009 6:51 PM

    “This is just a CYA effort by the league……has nothing to do with, nor will it help the problem.”
    Have you missed the past 2 weeks where like 10 players have sat out with concussions?

  8. 2brauneyz says: Dec 2, 2009 6:53 PM

    “Accordingly, players are to be encouraged to be candid with team medical staffs and fully disclose any signs or symptoms that may be associated with a concussion.”
    I call BS. As Ross Tucker explains over at SI today, players who do not play are at risk of losing their starting jobs, so the lying will continue.
    The only way out of this is to institute a mandatory one, two (or whatever) game sitting out.

  9. Albatross says: Dec 2, 2009 7:07 PM

    This will be interesting if a QB or other key player gets popped in a conference championship game or the Super Bowl and it becomes a controversy over whether he’s fit to play.

  10. NoHomeTeam says: Dec 2, 2009 7:14 PM

    # JPeezy says: “Does everybody else find it odd this rule comes out the week after Roethlisberger and Warner mysteriously were scratched late in the week despite practicing fully all week? I am 100% convinced Goondell made the Cards and Steelers sit their QB’s this week in an effort to further his agenda of taking absolte power over all decisions in the NFL. That man is the biggest dictator on the plane!”
    Doesn’t the noise from those Black Helicopters hovering over your house make it difficult to watch football games?

  11. cballlv11 says: Dec 2, 2009 7:17 PM

    So what your telling me, is that if you knock a guy out for even a split second, he has to be pulled from the game? … And it will only cost 15 yards and $500-$7500 for the helmet to helmet hit? I think the Commish just painted a VERY large, VERY bright BULLS-EYE on every star player in the league… He actually just raised the incentive for guys to try to knock QB’s & Recievers out! I know if I was a corner who had to cover Randy Moss all day, I’d take a cheap shot at him on the 1st damn play, take my 15 yards, and cover a #2 reciever for the next couple hours and have a great game!!!

  12. comment_submission_error says: Dec 2, 2009 7:23 PM

    It would be nice if the league was proactive instead of reactive regarding the collective health of of their product. They need to cut the crap and just admit that it’s a violent sport that will take a toll on those that play it, do what it can to protect them while they’re playing, and take care of them on the back end when nobody gives a rat’s ass about them any more.

  13. Popeye says: Dec 2, 2009 7:27 PM

    maybe the government can wipe my a$$ for me too…..

  14. Jal says: Dec 2, 2009 7:30 PM

    “(2) confusion as evidenced by disorientation to person, time or place, inability to respond appropriately to questions, or inability to remember assignments or plays”
    So I guess Jamarcus Russell won’t be allowed to play for a while.

  15. The Notorious V.I.C. says: Dec 2, 2009 7:53 PM

    ====”until he is fully asymptomatic, both at rest and after exertion, has a normal neurological examination, normal neuropsychological testing, and has been cleared to return by both his team physician(s) and the independent neurological consultant.”=====
    Do you think a big dummy like Brian Urlacher or a little dummy like Chris Johnson has ANY IDEA what any of these big words means?
    Also, the whole “the government has more important things to do” argument doesn’t hold water here. The NFL stopped being “just a game” many many years ago. It’s an industry with billions of dollars at stake.

  16. Great Smoky says: Dec 2, 2009 8:10 PM

    Mr. Florio, let’s see you endorse the nanny state and the interference of government in private enterprise by endorsing tort reform. I shant hold my breath.

  17. kdawg says: Dec 2, 2009 8:12 PM

    Wow what an advantage for the Defense so you put a head to head helmet on a WR and knock him out of the game. How about new rule if you put a head to head and knock someone out then you get ejected as well!

  18. Deb says: Dec 2, 2009 8:39 PM

    @chap … Good comment. Are you leaning over to the dark side? (Just kidding … you know I tease with affection ;-)
    @Buffalo Hogan … Love that commercial!
    @Albatross … They can easily solve that problem by re-inserting the bye between the conference championships and the Super Bowl.
    @kdawg … Ah, but who’s to say that when a DB or linebacker puts that helmet-to-helmet hit on the wideout that he won’t be the one to wind up with a concussion? The sit-out rule would apply to them as well. That might give defenders pause.

  19. heinz says: Dec 2, 2009 9:10 PM

    Wouldn’t it have saved everyone a lot of time and effort if we just padded the inside of the helmets with taxpayer bailout money instead?

  20. Klytus says: Dec 2, 2009 9:40 PM

    I applaud the Commissioner for making the policy league wide and clearly defined. Now, if the powers that be will begin a redesign of the helmet. That would also be helpful. It’s obvious the present design doesn’t work.
    Redesign? There has to be a medium inside that will absorb the impact of the hits. Not just transfer the blow to the players head. The medium should be dense and liquid so that the energy can be absorbed and deflected away from the head. A thick pancake type of pouch filled with silicone or other medium for instance. Several of the pouches placed inside of the helmet for complete coverage. When a hit is made the energy will deflect sideways through the silicone or other medium.
    Skeptical? Partially fill a sealable bag with some water. After you seal the bag push down gently on the center of the bag. Where does the water go? Air as the medium would be too light. Not dense enough to trap or absorb the energy.
    GO STEELERS!

  21. Great Smoky says: Dec 2, 2009 9:48 PM

    Why not madate mouthpieces, modern helmets, and the Pro Cap?
    Perhaps insist that players wear large-enough helmets (attn: Big Ben). How about mandating knee pads so that some of these knee hits to the head are cushioned a bit? Why not make neck rolls/pads mandatory?
    Why not make a “tackle zone” analagous to baseball’s strike zone? Permit tackling between the shoulders and knees only. That would preserve most of the big hits football is known for, and might improve tackling form as well, while greatly protecting heads and knees.
    Seems there were plenty of options available before this latest push.

  22. bigrig says: Dec 2, 2009 9:58 PM

    Treating the symptoms and not the disease. The problem is with the helmets and the league doesn’t want to admit it. Get rid of the hard plastic outer shell and replace it with something along the lines of a hard rubberized tricycle tire type material.
    Until they do something with the equipment, this issue isn’t going away any time soon.

  23. Deb says: Dec 2, 2009 10:12 PM

    @Klytus …
    Some of Alabama’s players have been wearing a redesigned helmet that is supposed to help cushion their heads during impact and minimize the risk of concussion. I’m sure they’re not the only college players with these helmets. I can’t imagine why something like that would be available to college players and not to pro players. Keep asking Florio if he has any info on that, but he’s been mum so far.
    Haven’t they also done a lot of work with helmet designs in NASCAR?
    Go Steelers!!!

  24. el_dude00 says: Dec 2, 2009 10:55 PM

    …and we’re gonna make two more games real ones to increase the chance of injury. Thanks!
    -The ‘mish

  25. chunky soupy sales says: Dec 2, 2009 11:22 PM

    I wish Florio wasn’t allowed to post with concussions.
    I kid.
    I kid because I love.

  26. PhillyRulez88 says: Dec 3, 2009 1:49 AM

    “(2) confusion as evidenced by disorientation to person, time or place, inability to respond appropriately to questions, or inability to remember assignments or plays;”
    Damn, if they had these rules in boxing, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield would have never fought a round in their life…

  27. golongboyee says: Dec 3, 2009 4:04 AM

    Nathan,
    That is exactly the point dumba$$. Do you think the NFL would come out with something like this if there weren’t a lot of players being affected?
    Are you really this stupid?????

  28. al8085 says: Dec 3, 2009 4:07 AM

    There’s many players out there who couldn’t pass the #3 test that never had a concussion!

  29. jan van flac says: Dec 3, 2009 9:58 AM

    @klytus
    the problem with liquid is weight. a heavier helmet could cause neck injuries and do even more damage in a helmet to helmet hit.
    how about…replaceable EPS foam liners, like they have in motorcycle helmets. they can be inspected after every half (or every big hit) and if compressed replaced with a new one

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