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NFL beefs up monitoring of in-game injuries

GETTY_H_110210_BrainScan Getty Images

On Sunday, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told PFT that the league is exploring options for enhancing the procedures for determining during games whether players have suffered concussions.

The league has no decided to turn one of its options into action.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported earlier this week that the league office sent a memo Tuesday to all 32 clubs explaining that the “league observer,” who attends every game and monitors the action from the press box, will be responsible for altering teams’ medical staffs as to “possible undetected injuries.”

“A direct ring-down phone line must be in place from the NFL Observer position in the press box to both the home and visiting bench areas,” the memo states, per Mortensen. “This line should be clearly marked on the NFL Observer’s phone. The purpose of the additional phone lines is to allow the NFL Observer to alert the Athletic Training staff to a possible injury that may have been missed at field-level.”

It sounds good, but it’s not enough.  A completely separate person, properly trained in the signs and symptoms of “undetected injuries,” should be assigned to handle only one job — spotting players who have suffered concussions or other injuries, via the naked eye and any available replays.  And when the phone rings down to field level, it should go not to a member of the training staff of the player’s team, but to a truly independent doctor who will determine whether or not the player should be cleared to return to the game, without the head coach sticking his nose into the evaluation.

Still, the process is moving in the right direction.  While the league has done a great job of handling players who have been diagnosed with concussions, the procedures for applying the label need to be improvement.

The new memo represents some improvement.  Here’s hoping that more will come.

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13 Responses to “NFL beefs up monitoring of in-game injuries”
  1. sbxxix says: Nov 25, 2011 2:30 PM

    I’m glad the NFL is taking this seriously

  2. Iamthatguy says: Nov 25, 2011 2:41 PM

    In a related note…the league is prepared to enact new rules beginning next year in the name of safety:

    A defender can not get within a 5 foot zone of the Quarterback…….10 feet for Tom Brady

    Receivers can not be hit or even touched, a defender must remove a flag that will be attached on both sides of the receivers hip to be considered “tackled”

  3. lexnekst says: Nov 25, 2011 2:51 PM

    Why don’t we all go home. Come back tomorrow, and call it softball.

  4. rmc1995 says: Nov 25, 2011 3:05 PM

    Really this is getting out of hand. The more the league monitors symptoms the more we’ll see the unintended consequences of good intentions. Players will do more to hide symptoms or refuse treatment. The league has proven to be cautious to protect players. Head hunting could prove to be a problem. Coaches will take a holding 10 yard penalty rather than a sack. What’s 15 yards if you give Aaron Rogers symptoms to pull him out for an evaluation for a series or two?

  5. earthtopft says: Nov 25, 2011 3:11 PM

    Some of the head injuries are more subtle. Not like that completely flattened brain with the skull ripped off, as shown on the gentleman in the picture.

  6. backindasaddle says: Nov 25, 2011 3:40 PM

    I’m afraid this will be a very difficult issue for the NFL to deal with well into the foreseeable future. I think concussions are very prevalent at all levels of football and they are very rarely acknowledge. The recent science showing the cumulative and chronic brain damage resulting from multiple concussions makes it a very important issue that simply can not be ignored nor can it be downplayed or minimized by those who would rather not deal with it. I believe that because of the violence and nature of the game, a technological solution needs to be developed such as a concussion limiting/preventing helmut. I don’t think concussions (or even a reduction in the rate of concussions) will happen via rules/regulations. The game requires tackling and tackling will be violent by its very nature. I do not see a solution in the near future short of a breakthrough technology concussion limiting/preventing helmut.

  7. pabillsfan says: Nov 25, 2011 3:56 PM

    altering teams’ = alerting teams?

  8. xjavicuervox says: Nov 25, 2011 4:01 PM

    Hopefully its not the same “league observer” they use in soccer games..

  9. zerophocus says: Nov 25, 2011 4:17 PM

    Did anyone see Ngata’s miss sack on Alex Smith? He missed because he grabbed the towel and pulled it out of Smith’s waistline. It kind of looked like flag football.

    I hope the front office doesn’t get any ideas.

  10. fmwarner says: Nov 25, 2011 4:27 PM

    The league observers are going to get half their salaries from quick trips to Vegas.

  11. rushbacker says: Nov 25, 2011 5:21 PM

    And what happens when one of these “observers” pulls an Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady out of the second half of a playoff game that their team subsequently loses, only to find that it was a false alarm? You PFT wannabe-crusaders are introducing a whole new level of corruption into the game. Have you ever heard the phrase “the road to hell is paved with good intentions?”

  12. rushbacker says: Nov 25, 2011 5:23 PM

    It’s bad enough to have Goodell unleashing whimsical and arbitrary fines left and right– now the league is going to take the decision as to who can play and who can’t out of the team’s hands? Smells like a rat. . .

  13. critter69 says: Nov 25, 2011 11:13 PM

    Actually, I think the coach should be the one who answers the phone, and then hands it to the medical staff. That way, the coach can’t say that he “didn’t know a phone call came through” as I’m sure the Stillers’ coach will be among the first to claim. Maybe that will end the ‘neck stinger’ or ‘concussion-like symptoms’, but still the player is on the sidelines, excuse.

    Anyone taken to the team locker room for injury analysis should be evaluated by a completely independent doctor, not associated with any team in the NFL. And the unaffiliated doctor, NOT the team doctor, should be the one who says when a suspected injured player can, or cannot leave, the locker room – none of this standing on the sidelines for the rest of the game male bovine droppings.

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