In a conference call aimed at explaining the league’s plans moving forward for dealing with concussions, Hall of Fame coach John Madden, co-chair of the league’s Player Safety Advisory Panel, said that he wants a new term to be used when characterizing players who have suffered concussions during a given game.
Madden said that the video franchise bearing his name will incorporate that term, and he wants the networks to do the same via television broadcasts.
He explained that engineering the Madden game to include the same procedures utilized by the NFL is intended to promote awareness and to spread that awareness to lower levels of the sport. “Maybe that’s where a lot of kids get started with football,” Madden said in reference to the only NFL-licensed video game on the market.
He’s right. And if kids begin to realize the importance of speaking up when they’ve had their “bell rung” during practice when they otherwise may fear being labeled as a coward or a five-letter word that’s another way to call a cat a kitty, fewer young players will be exposed to the risk of more serious injuries while playing too soon after suffering a concussion.
It won’t be easy. Coaches of high school teams and below aren’t always as careful as they should be, in part because the oversight isn’t as vigilant as it is at the NFL and college levels. To really make this work, the NFL needs to find a way to get the message not only to the kids who are playing, but to the men who are in charge of the kids who play it.