To avoid concussion rules, some players sandbag their baseline tests


NFL players are given tests to determine their baseline brain functioning so that if they suffer a concussion, they can be held out until they return to their previous levels. But NFL players often don’t want to be held out after they suffer a concussion. And that may lead to some of them intentionally doing poorly on baseline tests.

Dr. Daniel Amen, who has treated players for post-concussion symptoms, told Alex Marvez of that some of his patients have admitted to fudging the initial baseline tests administered by NFL teams.

“Players are smart. They know that if they have a concussion and score badly that, ‘I’m going to be taken out. It’s going to affect my livelihood,’ ” Amen said. “I’ve had a number of players tell me they purposely do bad on the testing to start so if they get a concussion it doesn’t affect them. We need to educate them that this is a really dumb idea, that it’s the rest of their life that they’re playing with.”

In addition to sandbagging their baseline tests, players may also cheat on their post-concussion tests. Dr. Amen says taking Ritalin could give people a short-term boost to help their brain activity and help them beat a test, even if they haven’t actually completely recovered from a concussion.

“Ritalin will work,” Amen said. “It helps boost activity to the front part of the brain. In my mind, it’s not the first thing I would do to rehabilitate a concussion but it would be on the list of things to do. Clearly, it’s not approved by the NFL or a smart thing to do and try to cheat the test.”

It’s one of the fundamental problems the NFL has in protecting players from concussions: No matter how hard the league tries, there are going to be players who try their best to avoid being protected.

21 responses to “To avoid concussion rules, some players sandbag their baseline tests

  1. There are systems in place to help them so if they don’t want to take advantage of those systems and want to mess with the rest of their life by sandbagging on the test, then let them. You can only do so much to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped…

  2. Love the paragraph from the Dr. that starts with, “Players are smart” and ends with, “We need to educate them that this is a really dumb idea.”

    Because, smart people usually need to be educated about really dumb idea.

  3. Every college kid with a hangover just ran out to pick up some Ritalin before class.

  4. theangryrob says:

    Because, smart people usually need to be educated about really dumb idea.

    Absolutely… Actually, in my experience, the smarter you are, the more prone you are to do really stupid life things.

    And if you don’t believe it, you do not hang around with enough smart people.

  5. This is a story about player’s willingly putting their long term health at risk because they just want to play football. Now consider this story next time anyone is trying to think about who is to blame for the current lockout? On one side, you have the NFL/owners who tried to get lockout insurance through the TV deal because they knew where things were headed, and on the other side, we have players trying to do all they can to avoid having to miss games due to concussions. It is easy to blame the players and a select few will say and do things that make it easier to blame them – but the current labor mess is 100% owner and league driven.

  6. As a wrestler, we would cut weight for the beginning of year skin fold tests. These tests would determine our lowest weight class that we could compete at. It seemed like the right thing to do until I started coaching the sport….

  7. For contrasting, Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins got a concussion in July last year and sat the entire end of the season, and even missed a few games at the start of this season because he was still suffering from concussion related symptoms.

  8. Blowing their baseline so when they are injured they can keep playing? I don’t think so, they’re not that smart in the first place. Their “baseline” is accurate.

  9. And this is exactly why the veterans health benefits they (the players) are mandating goes into the next CBA is such a joke. I am fine with giving them advanced health care or whatever after they retire ONLY if they report their injuries when they happen. There is so much cover up on the part of players and coaches as far as injuries go (but for this argument I am focusing on the players) that why should the owners pay out large wads of cash to players who had multiple concussions while playing football but never reported the symptoms? Post retirement health benefits for NFL players should be contingent on whether the player reported his injuries while he was playing. If a player had 6 concussions and lied in the test then why should they get the health benefits? It was their own fault in the first place. Players who are honest and upfront about their injuries should be subject to all of the possible health benefits for retirees.

  10. first, making a choice does not make anyone stupid. How many super smart folks smoke ?? do drugs ??? Drink and drive ??? so lets not get into the “calling people stupid “crap

    As far as concussions goes, the best the NFL can do is educate. If the players want to ignore the injury then that is their choice. As long as the nfl does its best to educate and diagnose then i just don’t wanna see retired players trying to sue the nfl because they have brain damage.

    Also i agree with the other commenter who said this is just another example of the differences between the two sides. One side is willing to kill themselves to play and the other is willing to stop the game all together to make a few more bucks.

  11. If the nfl were serious about concussions, they would shut down the league.
    If they really wanted to deal with this and make it go away, and goodell and his rule thumping go away, just collectively bargain the anti litigation for any reprecussion of the game. or YOU PLAY AT YOUR RISK!
    You cant legislate safety, because safety means something different to everybody, same as moralit.

  12. “One side is willing to kill themselves to play…”

    Can you name the last NFL player killed playing football and the season in which it happened?

  13. mick730 here you go:

    24 Oct 1971: Churck Hugues, wide receiver with the Detroit Lions, died of a heart attack during a game with the Chicago Bears in Tiger Stadium. His teammates were informed of his death before leaving the stadium.
    22 Jul 1979: James Victor Cain, tight end with the St. Louis Cardinals, died of congenital heart failure during training camp.
    01 Aug 2001: Korey Stringer, offensive lineman with the Minnesota Vikings, died of heatstroke during the second day of practice with full pads. His core temperature reached 108 degrees. He died within 24 hours of being removed from the field.

  14. The fact is that a large portion of the players need their Mommy (the League) to take care of them and force them to take care of their bodies and even help them with seminars on how to handle their money, etc etc etc.
    Too bad the players also look to their union Mommy to guide them because they don’t have the capacity to control themselves or be adult enough to know what is best for their lives.
    The real shame is that these “children” picked D Smith to be their new Mommy instead of someone that has their best interests at heart ,like Gene Upshaw always did ! And then their new Mommy D Smith is so inept himself that he ran to his Mommy the liberal judges to get him out of trouble,since he himself couldn’t handle his responsibilties.
    The blind players led by the blind union leadership , no wonder they both fell into the ditch !
    And remember,this is a STRIKE,since the union walked out of talkes where the owners were making many concessions .The owners only locked out the strikers AFTER they went on strike !

  15. …and Andersonrun:
    So,there have been 3 or 4 or even more deaths over the years in the NFL business ?
    How many in the coal mining or logging industries or steel mills ? I bet there are more deaths in one year in each of those business’ in any local area of the Country than the NFL has had in it’s entire history nation wide. And the same goes for lung cancers and asbestos and other ocupational hazzards that people in many indultries have to live with (or die with) after they retire from the many industries that are much more dangerous than the NFL and pay only a small fraction of the pay for a life time that many of the NFL players receive in one year.
    The owners have offered a really huge upgrade to the health care of retired players in the new CBA they are trying to negotiate,but the union leadership doesn’t care about that ,except to try to use the sad stories of the past players health as a sob story to try to make the owners look bad,just for PR purposes. If D Smith really cared about the health of former and current players he would agree to some of the owners offers and stop just trying to just get more for the current players and for himself.

  16. Some of you guys are so quick to pass judgment. Either you’ve never had to work for a living or you’re just incapable of putting yourselves in someone else’s shoes.

    Have you ever gone to work sick?
    Have you ignored symptoms or put off a checkup because they were laying off people and you didn’t want them to think they could get along without you? Or you just wanted to get through a crunch that never seemed to end?
    Have you ignored symptoms because you didn’t want to believe you weren’t as tough as you thought … or because you do a physical job and didn’t want to think about not being able to do it anymore?

    We all make foolish decisions with our bodies thinking only about the here and now instead of the future. If you claim otherwise, you’re either too young to have held a job … or you’re lying.

  17. TIM,
    By the logic of the safety nuts, the world would essentially shut down.
    NO oil
    No coal
    No cars
    No toilet paper
    no red meat
    no fish
    No farm foods
    cant have to much sun
    cant have to much shade
    TO much water
    to little water.

    all of those things hurt something or someone, and we should outlaw it all….Think about it. ITS SILLY! but that is a democratic voter for ya.

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