NFL sees sharp decline in concussions, hits on defenseless players

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The NFL believes players have largely learned to avoid hits to the head of defenseless players.

NFL Competition Committee Co-Chair Rich McKay says that at all levels of football, players have taken to heart the rules against hitting opponents in the head when they’re in a defenseless posture. As a result, concussions have significantly declined and so have fines for players committing illegal hits.

“We were down 25 percent in total concussions from 2013 to 2014,” McKay said. “We were down 36 percent since 2012. I think one thing to note here is, and it really became apparent when we talked to the NCAA because they’re seeing the same affect, is we now have players that have come through high school and college and played their games under their targeting rule and those players are now coming into our league and playing under a similar defenseless player rule and I think it’s starting to show itself as players have adjusted in the way they play the game. I will tell you that this year we had somewhere close to a 63 percent decrease in fines to players for hits on defenseless players from 2013 to 2014. That’s a really substantial drop. It shows that players are conforming to the rules and I think part of it is they’re growing up with rules that change the way they play the game.”

In the wake of Chris Borland’s retirement, the NFL released a statement saying football is safer now than it has ever been before. It may take decades to know for sure whether the increased emphasis on avoiding helmet-to-helmet hits is reducing the risk of long-term brain damage associated with playing football. But the NFL believes it’s heading in the right direction.

33 responses to “NFL sees sharp decline in concussions, hits on defenseless players

  1. It’s a collision sport where heads bang every play.. Reported concussions are down but players are still hiding them. How safe can the game get when the objective is to physically dominate your opponent. You know the nfl is concerned when they come out with statements all the time saying how the most violent game in the world is getting safer

  2. “Reported” is the key (and missing) word here… If a player knows that getting checked for a concussion might keep him out of a game now, he is less likely to get checked in the first place.

    Does anyone who saw the end of the Superbowl think that Julian Edelman didn’t get a concussion during that last drive?? Anyone? But who would ever get checked if it meant possibly missing the end of the Superbowl?

  3. Mzigg35

    Come on man. The nfl is pretty dangerous but the most violent in the world? What about boxing/mma? He’ll even lacrosse has more infield deaths then the NFL in any Givin year and it’s a far less popular sport. On top of that any sport has dangers. Hockey has fights on skates on cement like ice (along with skating upwards of 30 mph with giant blades on your feet). Good try though

  4. PROPAGANDA. Reminds me of when Goodell came out and said, a year after moving the kickoff up to the 40-yd line or wherever it is these days, “You see? It worked. Concussions on kickoffs are down 50%”. Well yeah, you used car salesman, that’s because 50% of kickoffs result in touchbacks now.

  5. Yeah it’s been months since a concussion. Wait it’s been months since the season ended
    I dunno. You seem kinda concussed with that comment.

  6. I don’t envy goodell at all. It’s a fine line between the physical contact that the dullards crave, and making it safe in the age of the over protective parents. Back in the day, players knew they were a commodity, and the only way to organization cared about individual health was if it was a high earner on the field which resulted in jersey sales. Now, it’s a lot more complicated. When one decision goes one day you see spams about “hes ruining the game” and “whats wrong with this pc culture” from the dullards. The other way “he doesn’t care about the people that allow him to have such a high salery” and “i wouldnt let me kids play football.”

  7. The NFL reports that concussions are down a report by the NFL. That’s great those guys have no interest in fudging the numbers or just totally making stuff up. Whew, problem solved! That was close

  8. meanwhile in another sport.. boxing they sign the biggest sports payday ever.. in a sport where the objective is to pound each other in the head until they are knocked out. Anyone see a double standard here. Where is the outrage and the lawsuits against boxing.

  9. The NFL is lying: I’ve watched players go through the “concussion protocol” with the team doctors on the sidelines. The skinny old docs clearly have no authority to fully evaluate or detain players. What a joke. Roger Goodell, you are an antiquated joke.

  10. It’s a violent sport, with large men colliding at high speeds.
    You will never legislate all of the violence out of it. Anyone who doesn’t realize the risks is lying.

  11. Borland’s announcement is further proof that many concussions occur on a regular basis in training and practice that NEVER get reported. How many rookies experience the same thing every season when they are trying to make a team? For that matter, how many UDFA’s and unsigned FA’s do the same thing when they are trying to make a team?

    There is no way to quantify how much damage occurs from concussions that go unreported by players fighting for their very existence on a team. That is as much, if not more, of a problem than in-game concussions that the NFL “reports” are on the decline.

  12. I don’t trust one thing the NFL tries to push. They can make anything sound the way they want the direction of game to go. I still say the NFL has moved backwards since the 2010 season when God-del started dishing out fines on players. He was inconsistent then and has continued on the same course.

  13. Reading a Dec. 2014 Frontline report titled “NFL Sees a Drop in Concussions, But Problems Linger” had this to say concerning last seasons concussion stats…

    “The past two seasons have shown, however, that only about two-thirds of all head injuries tallied in the NFL’s year-end concussion count ever make it onto team injury reports during the season.”

    Translated, 1/3 of all concussions are not counted…so, if the NFL says concussions were down 36% since 2012, in reality, if we add the 33% of concussions that are not reported, the bottom line is there was only a 3% reduction in the number of concussions since 2012.

    Today’s helmets are not safe enough because the NFL refuses to address the lack of padding of today’s NFL helmets.

    You can only put so much padding on the inside of a helmet to make it safer. It is time to look at the outside of today’s helmets and revisit the idea of adding padding to the outside, so the helmets are not rock hard…but able to defuse the shock of helmet contact with hard objects such as, another helmet, a knee, a shoulder or contact with the ground.

    The NFL did allow padding on the outside of their helmets in the 80s and 90s and those players that used the extra padding added years to their careers, retiring on their own terms…not forced to retire due to concussions.

    Look up Mark Kelso and read…

    Just use some common sense folks…how dumb is it to continue using helmets with an outer shell made of “rock hard” plastic, that does nothing to reduce the impact of a hit?

    It is time to add padding to football helmets in the only area that is left…the outside.

    Have a great day…mac

  14. Is the NFL seeing a sharp decline in hits on defenseless women and children?

    What the NFL will see a sharp decline in is viewership. All the talk about the integrity of the game, and players like Hardy, Rice and Peterson are in conversations about who should pay them millions of dollars to represent the NFL.

  15. Not for nothing, I miss those crunching tackles that made safeties like Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed, Ronnie Lott, Rodney Harrison, Darren Sharper and Roman Harper part of the weekly highlight real… That smackdown was something fierce – made receivers think twice. Now, only thing receivers have to fear is busting out the wrong dance in the end zone – but it’s okay, they’ll get it right the next time they get in, which would probably be the following drive nowadays…

  16. Sure they are. What’s next? A league report that domestic violence across the league is down too?

    Whatever the money requires is what the league promotes. End of story.

  17. .
    still dont understand why they are making ZERO effort for a better helmet…

    Oh wait… why would they do that since they refuse to admit there is a problem.

  18. Whew! I read this wrong! I read,

    “NFL sees sharp decline in concessions, blames defenseless players”

    THAT would be a story

  19. Do you want to make it even better? Change the receiving rule from two feet in bounds to one foot in. That would cause so many more throws to go toward the sidelines, and far fewer big hits across the middle. Plus more rolling out by QBs and less standing in the pocket like a sitting duck.

  20. The defenseless players part is the good part, but the concussion part can easily be hidden by a poor concussion baseline test. Its their noggins, let them bash them in if they want to. Sign on the dotted line.

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