When asked about concussions, owners shouldn’t avoid the issue

Commissioner Roger Goodell gets paid millions in part because he often provides public cover for the billionaires lurking behind the curtain. That dynamic was on display this week.

With Goodell flipping the “football players live longer than you” card, Bills owner Terry Pegula opted to say nothing at all when asked about the lingering issue of head injuries.

“I don’t like to talk about concussions publicly,” Pegula said, before talking about concussions in a way that downplays concussions in football. “Concussions happen in all parts of our society. It happens in every sport. You can be driving your car down the road and get a concussion in an accident. I don’t want to discuss the relevance of it in the football world.”

Whether Pegula wants to “discuss the relevance” of concussions in football is a separate question from whether he should. He owns a professional football team (and a professional hockey team, which also has concussion issues), bearing ultimate responsibility for the health and well being of employees who are driving cars that are destined to have accidents, repeatedly — and some of whom are now claiming that they’d happily die behind the wheel.

Surely, owners could be equipped with simple talking points (other than “football players live longer than you,” preferably) regarding the strides made when it comes to making the game safer, the advances in helmet technology, the reduction in full-pads practices, and other meaningful steps the league has taken since having its CTE epiphany in 2009. For an industry that spent too many years downplaying and discrediting the medical realities of concussions, deferring to their $40 million per year pin cushion shouldn’t be an option for the people who own the franchises.

17 responses to “When asked about concussions, owners shouldn’t avoid the issue

  1. Why not ask athletic directors and High school coaches about concussions? Seems the only place concussions are discussed in football is at the NFL level. And that’s because they can be sued whereas high schools and universities are, so far, exempt from lawsuits.

  2. With the volume of concussion disputes few lawyers would want their clients to publically discuss and be subject to news media grilling that could reopen wounds supposedly closed with the settlement. It’s unreasonable to expect the owners of the teams to successfully joust with inquisitive reporters – look what happened in Baltimore with Kaepernick. Moreover the NFL is not solely responsible for the concussive injuries of its players – the NFL just happens to be the most lucrative of the culprits (if there are any). Medical research may one day provide a way to determine the date of the cause of concussive injuries which will open different levels of football to legal action. Should the NFL owners speculate on the liability of universities, high schools, Pop Warner clubs? Instead of trying to target the owners perhaps it would be better to focus on ameliorating the risks of the game at all levels.

  3. @me1633

    Has HS ADs & HCs repeatedly lied to their students, past and present, about the non-dangers of concussions?

    Lack of Ethics is why the target is on the NFL’s back. Sure, there are scrubs digging for gold in it, but that doesn’t discredit the origins of the debate.

  4. More has been done to study and prevent them in the last few years than ever before. Players now are in a completly different playing field than 10 years ago because of new guidlines. The nfl has acted on it. In a responsible way. The league should be applauded for tbe direction they have gone. Not bashed.

  5. “Lack of Ethics is why the target is on the NFL’s back. Sure, there are scrubs digging for gold in it, but that doesn’t discredit the origins of the debate.”

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    BINGO!!!

    That is why I have no sympathy for the NFL and the sport of football.

    It is gonna be a sad, slow death of the great sport of football… but… football deserves the death penalty thanks to the NFL owners organized lies about the dangers of playing football. Those lies funneled down to uneducated and/or complicit parents who put their children at risk.

    In 15-20 years when football is on life support… I’m sure I will find something to do in my spare time in 15-20 years (if I am alive). We survived the decline of boxing… so… we should be alright.

  6. Unless an owner is a brain surgeon, why would anyone think they’re going to learn anything by asking them about brain injuries? Medical researcher’s are making new discoveries every day. Not all players get brain injuries, so there are links. It’s like peanut and other food allergies. Some people are just more susceptible. We can’t deny science if we want to get to the root of this. We can’t just select the tidbits of information that suit our agenda. Medical research is showing some of the issues that out high sugar diet is causing. Many of those sugar related issues had originally been blamed on other things in our environment. It’s not intentional. It’s just science, We’re learning more and more all the time. Sugar causes inflammation. It’s possible that high carb diets, which are high in sugar, are a link. It’s possible there is a link between alcohol (sugar) use and brain inflammation. A guy playing football with an inflamed brain might be more susceptible to concussions. I’m guessing, but that’s what scientists do. We’d all be dead if it wasn’t for scientists, so let these people finish their research before we jump to conclusions. It’s just like autism. There have been so many theories. There are links. Some say it’s vaccinations. Some say it’s the preservatives they put in the vaccinations. Some research says it’s none of the above. Just keep digging. Never stop. We all hate brain injuries. Many of our parents have severe brain issues, and they’ve never stepped foot on a football field. Don’t we want to know? Be motivated by positive things, not negative things. Sometimes we’re in too big a hurry to try to make the NFL look bad. We all benefit from science. NFL owners aren’t scientists. Don’t expect them to have answers that doctors who have been doing research don’t even have. We’re always looking to blame somebody. Use your brains, and try to be part of the solution.

  7. “You can be driving your car down the road and get a concussion in an accident. ”

    Wow talk about totally disingenuous comments. Yes you can get a concussion in a car accident, but most people aren’t in a job where they get in 20 – 30 accidents that can cause concussions every day.

  8. “Not all players get brain injuries”

    110 brains of 111 deceased players in a recent study showed CTE and damage to their brains. You’re right not all, but based on that study 99.099% do.

    Now that sample is too small to statistically apply it to thousands of people, but its a very good indication that most players suffer some brain trauma in their careers, whether or not they are diagnosed with concussions.

  9. At cobrala2 yes HC and AD”s lie. Just because it’s not reported doesn’t mean they’re ethical. How many div 2 coaches make headlines, yet you say their players are expect from concussions???????

  10. I wonder what the football writers will write about when they get football eliminated from our society?

  11. “I wonder what the football writers will write about when they get football eliminated from our society?”

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    1) It won’t be sportswriters that eliminate the game. The violent game of football’s truth being revealed will be football’s demise.

    2) The sportswriters who report THE TRUTH will be heroes.

  12. So as we speak MMA UFC are more popular then ever. Why doesn’t anyone care about their health. I mean their profession pretty much requires you cause brain damage to your opponent.

  13. What I don’t get is its not like it isn’t obvious the dangers of football…now, last week or 50 years ago. Any reasonable logical person can see it….. yet the players still choose to play. Hard to have sympathy for that, especially when they are paid quite handsomely for it. I don’t see how the Owners are the bad guys here.

  14. @me1633

    So schooling systems and colleges in your sphere of experience has hired (non-neurological) doctors to discredit claims like the NFL has? ADs and HCs go on-record dismissing the dangers of concussions?

    I have not once read an article quoting any school system as discrediting concussions.

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