NFL, NFLPA taking different approaches to Concussion

AP

From 1994 through 2009, the NFL and the NFL Players Association took similar approaches to the concussion problem — despite the failure of those who have attacked only the NFL to admit that.

The NFL has a new concussion problem: the film Concussion. This time, the NFL and the NFLPA are taking very different approaches.

The NFL, which began planning its response to the film months ago, has opted to have no response at all. Even as the trailers for the film (including one televised last night on ESPN) include game footage with players like Adrian Peterson and terms like “COVER-UP” blaring through the screen, the league’s approach has been to ignore the movie and to hope it quickly disappears from theaters amid competition from Star Wars and other films to be released between now and December 25, the Merry-Christmas-Ho-Ho-Ho-Now-Let’s-Go-Get-Depressed debut of Concussion.

Via TheMMQB.com, the NFLPA organized a screening of the film for retired players in Atlanta.

“We don’t endorse the film; we just knew it would be of interest to former players,” Ken Parker, treasurer of the NFLPA Atlanta chapter, told the retired players before the screening. “So here it is. But as you watch, remember, knowledge is power.”

The approach under current NFLPA leadership is far different from the union’s approach prior to 2009. The NFLPA had a seat at the table throughout the efforts to downplay and deny the existence of Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy. And to the extent that a “smoking gun” supposedly arose from Mike Webster’s 1999 disability award for chronic brain damage, the NFLPA and the NFL had equal representation on the panel that reached the decision that should have put everyone connected to the sport on notice of the long-term risks of head trauma.

When the time came for Congress to explore in detail the league’s handling of concussions, the NFLPA opted for candor regarding its past failures.

“There is simply no justification for the NFL to have previously ignored or discredited Dr. [Bennet] Omalu and others with relevant, valid research,” current NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in 2009.  “For far too long, our former players were left adrift; as I emphasized at the last hearing, we were complicit in the lack of leadership and accountability, but that ends now.  I am here again to make it clear that our commitment is unwavering.”

That commitment includes not only acknowledging the existence of the Concussion film, but also making the movie available to the men who played the game. Even if those screenings will result in sound bites that will further the efforts of those who would like to see football diminish or disappear — or those who at a minimum would like to be able to claim credit (and receive praise) for taking down football.

“I watch this movie and I know we were paid to hurt people,” former NFL linebacker Keith McCants told Emily Kaplan of TheMMQB.com. “We were paid to give concussions. If we knew that we were killing people, I would have never put on the jersey.”

From a P.R. standpoint, those kinds of comments don’t help the NFLPA. But it’s concerns about P.R. that created the mindset that sparked misguided efforts to pretend that head injuries aren’t a problem, and to discredit anyone who said otherwise. It’s far better to embrace reality; if nothing else, the current disconnect between the league and the union regarding the Concussion film shows that the NFLPA has learned from its past mistakes.

21 responses to “NFL, NFLPA taking different approaches to Concussion

  1. The league is concerned only about $$$$$$$

    The one and only reason they care at all about players is possible liability.

  2. No response is the only response the NFL can have without reminding everybody what they actually did back in the 90s. How bad was it? They funded a medical journal for the sole purpose of printing the quack papers of the concussion denial doctors they’d paid off. Tags was commish with good ol’ Rog as his right-hand man.

    And their attitudes haven’t changed a whole lot since then. The Texans owner said in an interview last year that he doubts to this very day that football causes concussions.

  3. At least the NFLPA is admitting their role, the NFL and the scum that run the league make excuses and say the PC thing and do another.

    Like King Goodell stated their communications to the public dont have to be truthful. That tells you all you need to know about NFL Owners, and NFL league Office and the corrupt Commish.

  4. The NFL had over 9 billion reasons to ignore this for years. Love how everyone drops bombs on particular players for holding out to grab an extra couple million. Look at what the owners and the “integrity-driven” Roger Goodell have done.

  5. Why is one of the Wilson brothers playing Goodell? I think they should have gotten that guy who is debating the Burger King. He does a better Goodell than Goodell.

  6. “I watch this movie and I know we were paid to hurt people,” former NFL linebacker Keith McCants told Emily Kaplan of TheMMQB.com. “We were paid to give concussions. If we knew that we were killing people, I would have never put on the jersey.”

    Really, Keith? You accumulated 184 tackles and 13.5 sacks in a 6 year career in the NFL…how many people did you kill? Be real, because I had some of your football cards including your first round rookie card out of Alabama.

    When is enough going to be enough? When this website is writing about baseball? When the stadiums are empty every fall? We know there is an issue, steps have been taken, people complain about the concussions, and then they complain about the game getting too soft. It’s time to move on. This movie is going to be a good movie, a sad movie, but we need to move on and accept what happened and recognize today’s NFL for what it is.

  7. I’m going to see it. Even the wife, not a fan of football, wants to see it. At this point, anything that casts RG1 in a negative light is something I want to see.

  8. No interest in the movie….. I would have to guess.. that many players understood the risks…. AND.. would probably do it again…. see Ronnie Lott….

  9. I don’t know why the NFL thinks the movie audience will pick only one movie. I’m going to see both.

    And even if they don’t see it in the theatres, the release on home video may fare quite well.

  10. That commitment includes not only acknowledging the existence of the Concussion film, but also making the movie available to the men who played the game. Even if those screenings will result in sound bites that will further the efforts of those who would like to see football diminish or disappear — or those who at a minimum would like to be able to claim credit (and receive praise) for taking down football.
    _______________________________________
    Are you seriously suggesting that Dr. Omalu is doing this for praise and to claim credit?

    I know it’s hard when you feel people unfairly attacking the industry that has helped power your career, but ethics shouldn’t fly out the window.

  11. Both sides value $$$$$ above all else. Just like boxing, we visually see the damage and then wonder who will be our next “hero”. We are a society that feigns conen…but the cold reality is we are a species attracted to violence and dominance. If society truly believed boxing was so horrific and damaging, why have we embraced boxing’s more violent offspring…..MMA.
    The NFL’s greatest obstacle in the future will be from the insurance industry. Liability concerns have become monetary issues that school districts and local government are attempting to manage….often unsuccessfully. High school football has a problem and the ramifications for college and the pro ranks are inevitable.

  12. Football is a very dangerous sport, we get it. Office jobs available for anybody looking for a new career. ***Useful College degrees a requirement.

  13. Some members of the media and public will only be happy when the NFL plays tiddlywinks and eliminates talent and strength as requirements. Soon, they will be advocating tutus and participation trophy’s. Sad

  14. Terrible movie and terrible premise that the NFLPA and the NFL have any responsibility for grown men choosing to play a sport and getting compensated for it. I am sick and tired of the media and Hollywood bashing the one thing in life that I use to distract myself from Donald Trump. If grown men didn’t realize that bashing their heads against the heads of other grown men would possibly have long term brain health issues then they probably didn’t have too much brain in there to hurt to begin with.

    The witch hunt crying for the NFL’s head on a stake needs to end and it needs to end now, especially by those who profit handsomely and have a career based on it’s existence.

  15. Goodell should try the PSI mis-direction scheme again.
    It certainly took attention away from APs dirty deeds. Seems no one ever talks about that anymore.
    Nothing like a G rated controversy to distract attention from the more scary stuff that affects the integrity of the bank account

  16. The NFL has to be careful with this major motion picture. Hollywood loves to make ‘important’ films, and critics love to rave about important film. It makes everybody feel good.

    The best thing for the league to do is get somebody credible to point out that the film just isn’t any good. The problem with that is, there IS nobody credible in the league office.

    Every film has a few continuity errors, though, so maybe the league should point them out anonymously and let the movie geeks take it from there.

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