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Madden makes case for culture change regarding concussions

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Hall of Fame coach and legendary broadcaster John Madden made his weekly appearance today on SiriusXM NFL Radio with Rich Gannon and Adam Schein, and Coach Madden made a stirring and persuasive case for a culture change at all levels of football regarding the issue of concussions.

Madden’s remarks were so compelling and blunt and convincing that the league should have him reprise the message for a DVD that is sent to every football coach in America.

In fact, Madden may have been too candid, given the various pieces of litigation the league currently is facing, with allegations that the NFL failed to warn players about the risks of concussions.  Madden says that the issue had been “swept under the rug” for years, requiring significant changes now in order to properly address the situation in the future.

And while Madden didn’t specifically blame the Browns for the team’s decision to allow quarterback Colt McCoy to re-enter last Thursday’s game against the Steelers, Madden said that the injury was handled “wrong in every way,” or words to that effect.  (We’ll get the full transcript from our friends at SiriusXM NFL Radio.)

So Browns president Mike Holmgren can claim all he wants that it’s “unfair” to criticize the team for failing to hold McCoy out of the game, but the fact remains that the team allowed McCoy to re-enter the game with a concussion.  And Holmgren can make all the excuses he wants about how the doctors and trainers were busy and didn’t see James Harrison put a helmet into McCoy’s chin, but the fact remains that the team allowed McCoy to re-enter the game with a concussion.  And Holmgren can point to all the times the Browns kept players out of games after suffering concussions, but the fact remains that the team allowed McCoy to re-enter the game with a concussion.

Madden explained that coaches and teammates tend to assume that, when doctor and/or trainer is evaluating a player, the doctor and/or trainer know where and how hard the player had been hit.  Madden said that the next step in the process of spotting concussions is to ensure that teammates and coaches don’t make that assumption.

If one of the most influential, old-school coaches believes strongly about this issue, everyone associated with the game — at every level — should take notice.  Here’s hoping that Coach Madden keeps spreading the word, and that everyone who hears his words heeds them.

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43 Responses to “Madden makes case for culture change regarding concussions”
  1. toddm6d says: Dec 14, 2011 3:00 PM


  2. dempsey63 says: Dec 14, 2011 3:04 PM

    Pipe down, Mr. Holmgren. I checked under John Madden’s bus and didn’t find that you had been thrown beneath it.

  3. discosucs2005 says: Dec 14, 2011 3:04 PM

    I’m still unclear, is it a fact that the Browns allowed McCoy to re-enter the game?

  4. armylz says: Dec 14, 2011 3:05 PM

    Goodell out…Madden in as next commish

  5. steelcitymasterrace says: Dec 14, 2011 3:05 PM

    Sad to see someone you thought had the old school mentality turn soft and politically correct too! If you’re hurt, you’re hurt. If we’re going to get to the points where we have pencilnecks and bureaucrats on the sidelines they may as well just shut down the sport altogether. Have they forgotten smelling salts? Always worked back in the day when I was playing high school ball!

  6. ragingyinzer says: Dec 14, 2011 3:06 PM

    Madden might have said “concussion” but he actually meant to say “turducken”.

  7. gafraidh says: Dec 14, 2011 3:11 PM

    If someone needs to be dedicated to monitoring hits and potential for concussion, they need to be off the sidelines where there is too much other crap going on. Perhaps sitting upstairs in the replay booth with the officials (you know, the ones who should be making the official calls instead of the ref in the booth on the field) gives the best view of the action, and the ability to signal to the bench that something needs to be evaluated.

  8. lockoftheweak says: Dec 14, 2011 3:11 PM

    I can’t help but remember back when the Monday Night Football intro showed the two helmets [from the teams playing that night] crashing against each other. Culture change indeed.

  9. tflay says: Dec 14, 2011 3:15 PM

    So if the Browns had just said he went back in with “concussion-like” symptoms.. then none of this would be an issue.

  10. a2056 says: Dec 14, 2011 3:17 PM

    Wasn’t he a coach when it was “swept under the rug”? I’ll bet he had different opinions when he was calling the shots.

  11. 1captain1 says: Dec 14, 2011 3:19 PM

    Instead of suing the teams why not sue the ones actually causing the concussions…

    You know the player doing thier JOB!

    All of us deal with some form of implied risk in our day to day jobs.

    Enough is Enough! Man up and grow a pair!

  12. classygentleman7 says: Dec 14, 2011 3:21 PM

    Brett Favre, Turkey. Brett Favre, Turkey.

  13. 1captain1 says: Dec 14, 2011 3:26 PM

    I guess Madden forgot to tell Jack Tatum and the family of Mr Stingley!


    Play ball and let the knock the crap out of each other that’s what I PAY to see!

  14. yzguy431 says: Dec 14, 2011 3:26 PM

    eliminate tackling. problem solved.

  15. kadeeu says: Dec 14, 2011 3:27 PM

    From a coach who coached and encouraged some of the dirtiest players in the history of the NFL including clubbing of opponents in the head.

  16. mikeholmgrenwearsstretchpants says: Dec 14, 2011 3:29 PM

    Ironically, it was concussions from back in his playing days that contributed to the Madden gems we hold dear to us today, such as “when he runs he goes faster”, “you win when you score more points”, and whatever that 6 legged turkey monstrosity was that he’d give out after Thanksgiving games.

    Without concussions we would have none of these great Madden gifts.

  17. tyge8 says: Dec 14, 2011 3:30 PM

    I hope you are being sarcastic with your ignorant words. Google second impact syndrome, go to and do a little research on the dangers of concussion before you vomit onto a blog without any knowledge of the subject.

  18. dachozen1 says: Dec 14, 2011 3:30 PM

    A lot of this contact will never change. I am comvinced they truly stop playing the sport. I hope they just ban the NFL and keep the other sports because 70% of these hits are not preventable. It will be someone else soon then someone else. People will pay attn more and notice other defenders hitting similar then call for their heads.

  19. MossMoon2Packers says: Dec 14, 2011 3:34 PM

    @steelcitymasterrace, who said “Sad to see someone you thought had the old school mentality turn soft and politically correct too!”

    Yeah, we should just let ’em play! And, if some NFL player ends up with severe mental problems like dementia, memory loss, CTE and related problems and dies or commits suicide (e.g., former Steeler C “Iron Mike” Webster, former Bears S Dave Duerson, etc., etc.) as a likely result of too many hits to the head, then that’s their tough luck.

    steelcitymasterrace just wants to be entertained and damn the consequences to the players!

  20. cornellsteelers says: Dec 14, 2011 3:36 PM


    No, because the Steelers never send players with “concussion-like” symptoms back into the game.

  21. pone27 says: Dec 14, 2011 3:38 PM

    When are people from the “old school” and the “new school” going to realize that players now are not only bigger, but more solid/massive, and athletic.

    Players and rules change people. Clearly nobody posting on here has ever had a concussion. If McCoy wasn’t getting paid millions of dollars, id put money on it he would have told Holmgren to shove it. Reputation plays a lot into these guys going back out there and playing (Crosby, and NHL enforcers are included in this.)

  22. mlenenski says: Dec 14, 2011 3:42 PM

    The league suspended James Harrison for a hit that no-one on the Browns Bench saw. And, not one Brown’s coach saw the hit or knew the ramifications of the hit.

    And apparently, Holmgren is acting like he didn’t see the hit either, nor will he accept any responsibility for the dumb actions of the on field team management (Shurmur).

    In order to” change the culture” someone on the Browns Coaching staff should be suspended and/or fined. Sending McCoy back on the field for possible further injury was as egregious as the hit itself.

  23. fin72 says: Dec 14, 2011 3:43 PM

    Is it just me, or does John Madden look like an older, heavier Roger Goodell?

  24. crj202 says: Dec 14, 2011 3:44 PM

    “If everyone was as tough as Favre, we wouldn’t be talking about this. You wouldn’t even know he was hurt. As a matter of fact, I think Favre lives everyday with a concussion, but you wouldn’t know it!”


  25. mizzouram says: Dec 14, 2011 3:50 PM

    I don’t care how much stupid stuff he’s said over the years, you gotta love John Madden.

  26. dchuwo says: Dec 14, 2011 3:51 PM

    Anyone who disagrees with Madden, and says the NFL is ruining the game, needs his or her head examined. Nothing wrong with trying to reduce unnecessary blows to the head.

  27. dannyreneau says: Dec 14, 2011 3:59 PM

    Its what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object

  28. fmwarner says: Dec 14, 2011 4:02 PM

    steelcitymasterrace says: Dec 14, 2011 3:05 PM

    Sad to see someone you thought had the old school mentality turn soft and politically correct too! If you’re hurt, you’re hurt. If we’re going to get to the points where we have pencilnecks and bureaucrats on the sidelines they may as well just shut down the sport altogether. Have they forgotten smelling salts? Always worked back in the day when I was playing high school ball!

    I’m not so sure those smelling salts worked. You still sound pretty concussed to me.

  29. ravensruleandharbaughisgod says: Dec 14, 2011 4:02 PM

    This is a man who you absolutely have to listen to. He had no agenda, but plenty of history. Listen up Roger!!

  30. steelcitymasterrace says: Dec 14, 2011 4:12 PM

    To all the haters: plenty of people man up and go on to lead long lives after football. Yeah some of them get their bell rung too many times, but that’s why they get paid millions. We also can’t dispute that some people just won’t have all their marbles in the first place so we can’t blame mental problems just on football. Look at any insane homeless person you see- I bet they weren’t an NFL player but ended up that way.

    I sure as hell would take the “risks” these people have (which are nothing compared to police, firefighters, our troops overseas, many in the construction trades) if I was getting millions of dollars for playing a game. If they don’t want to play a man’s game, there’s always other things to do.

  31. nflcraziness says: Dec 14, 2011 4:16 PM

    Perhaps the league should supply each team with a Dr., certified in evaluating concussions, on the sidelines. Take it out of the teams hands to make the call on rather or not a player should be allowed back in the game.

  32. jamaltimore says: Dec 14, 2011 4:29 PM

    I shouldn’t bother posting an opposing view but no one wants to send a person on the field who is out of their skull. I doubt this really happens as much as you want to make it out to. However I can guarentee you every week players are out their playing on injuries they should not be. How are you and the madden going to control that? Hopefully he’s taking all illegal hits out his video game to start!

    What happens when these guys can’t walk or bend anymore at the age 50 because of all the pain shots they take just to suit up on sunday? I’m sorry but the whole sport is dangerous so either let it play out or move it to two hand touch to PREVENT ALL serious injuries.

    Sure you stop flagrant hits but just like everything else in the use the threshold of what is dangerous today compared to yesterday is getting so small that affects

  33. ErikW65 says: Dec 14, 2011 4:36 PM

    I guess Madden forgot to tell Jack Tatum and the family of Mr Stingley!


    Tatum’s coach, John Madden, and many of his teammates extended their sympathies to Stingley.[2] Madden’s post-game rush to the hospital was the beginning of a close friendship.[11] In fact, during his visit Madden found himself the lone visitor in the hospital. No one from the Patriots was there, until Madden called their team and the team’s charter plane, in takeoff mode, finally returned to the gate.[12]

  34. dannyabramowitz says: Dec 14, 2011 4:38 PM

    Drip drip drip to the eventual ban of football by the do-gooders. Climb back in your van Madden and stuff some food in your piehole.

  35. getyourownname says: Dec 14, 2011 4:51 PM

    Maybe scientists will perfect the time machine in our lifetime so steelcitymasterrace can enjoy what he really wants to see, Roman galdiator contests.

  36. offkiltereagle says: Dec 14, 2011 4:57 PM

    I look at NFL players the same way I do boxers or MMA fighters. They know the risks before they step onto the field. They sacrifice their bodies, and sometimes their mind, and for that sacrifice they are compensated financially with an overabundant salary.

    It was the violent hits that has made the NFL a multi-billion dollar industry. How many VHS tapes of great hits has the NFL made. In this day and age it seems that any “great hit” is now a 15yard penalty. They are taking away part of what has made this game great. Yes, ultimate ramifications that has inflicted past players is a tragic tale, but it had to be known that getting sh!t kicked out of you week in and week out is not good for you.

    So how about we quit with all of the beauracratic red tape and just put the flags on already. Because watching the powers that be inch by inch rob the game I love of it’s physicality is sickening and is a twisting of a knife in my smashmouth heart.

  37. olskool711 says: Dec 14, 2011 4:59 PM

    me is steler fan

    me no like what maddan say

    madan dont know wht me know

    me no sissie

  38. changeup39 says: Dec 14, 2011 5:01 PM

    Steelcitymasterrace is the epitome of the culture of “macho man” ignorance in the NFL.

    In the past, we didn’t know any better; now that we’re starting to understand the long-term implications of concussions, there is no excuse not to do better. That being said, I still think its going to take a massive lawsuit to get the NFL to change it’s ways.

  39. hrmlss says: Dec 14, 2011 5:11 PM

    I think it is all ESPN’s fault from the days of the “Blowed them up” Segment they used to run every Sunday night showing every vicious hit with a bunch of commentators sitting around laughing. All the players should sue ESPN.

  40. MossMoon2Packers says: Dec 14, 2011 5:35 PM

    @offkiltereagle who said “It was the violent hits that has made the NFL a multi-billion dollar industry.”

    The violent hits appeal to some, no doubt. But, the vast majority of fans don’t want to see any player seriously hurt, let alone left crippled, physically or mentally.

    And most fans (by far) prefer the beauty of a well-executed play, an electrifying Adrian Peterson run, the laser accuracy of an Aaron Rodgers pass, the acrobatic catch of an Andre Johnson, the thrill of a Devin Hester return, etc., etc.. Those are the things that most excite the fans.

  41. tahoe67 says: Dec 14, 2011 10:35 PM

    who cares what this old geezer says, he watched over the biggest group of renegade, steroid-infused, and severely concussed players in NFL history. now he’s supposed to be some kind of gold-standard? talk about the pot calling the kettle black. maybe if his agents at img actually understood football, they could inform him not to speak on such issues in such a mal-informed manner. pathetic.

  42. mackie66 says: Dec 15, 2011 3:33 PM

    Lets review, shall we.
    Cant tackle QB above the ankle.
    Cant tackle WR above the ankle.
    Cant tackle anyone unless hes a runner whos been running for 20 yds down field.
    Cant tackle the QB about the head if hes a runner at anytime.
    All concussions must be reported 1 hr before the concussion takes place.
    No tackling using the shoulderpads, hippads, kneepads, jock-strap, or any part of the uniform.
    All players must wear 14″ glow color orange flags wich protude 24 ” from hip pockets.
    Any of about violations will result in a 15 yr suspension and 10 million dollar fine. And last but not least, there will be no throwing of TD passes shorter then 1 yd. All fines and penalitys will be given to the “Uncle Rodger” clothing line for concussed game officals.
    Peter Pan Football League.

  43. mackie66 says: Dec 15, 2011 3:39 PM

    Did anyone ask Madden if he actually knew what a consusson was? How many players were allowed to play concussed when Madden was coaching. Maybe a concussion clause should be encluded in ever player contract that states ” A player need not sign a contract if hes afraid of becoming concussed, or blocked, or tackled, or harshly talked to.

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