The NFL players’ union wants Dr. Ira Casson removed as co-chairman of the league’s committee on concussions, saying that he has shown bias in efforts to discredit research into the long-term consequences of brain injuries suffered on the playing field.
Alan Schwarz of the New York Times quotes NFL Players’ Association spokesman George Atallah saying union chief DeMaurice Smith has twice spoken to Commissioner Roger Goodell about replacing Casson.
“Our view is that he’s a polarizing figure on this issue, and the players certainly don’t feel like he can be an impartial party on this subject,” Atallah said. “The meetings between Roger and DeMaurice are private and we like to maintain confidentiality, but I believe there were concerns expressed by both parties.”
It’s not clear how receptive the league is to the union’s request. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Times, “We can tell you that we have already informed the NFLPA of a number of steps we are considering relating to player health and safety.”
Aiello added, “Mr. Smith did not initiate a discussion about Dr. Casson with the commissioner, and we don’t know what purpose is served by raising it publicly at this time.”
Casson has suggested that research into the consequences of concussions is lacking, and he says an ongoing study of retired players, which he is leading, will provide the best indications about how concussions affect players’ lives. That study is not close to being finished, and its findings won’t be published for three or four years.