Seven years ago, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith admitted that the union at one point was part of the problem regarding pro football’s handling of concussions.
“For far too long, our former players were left adrift,” Smith said at a Congressional hearing in 2009. “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.”
The commitment includes freely admitting that which needs to be admitted; specifically, the existence of a link between football and possible long-term brain damage.
Appearing on Wednesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN, recently re-elected NFLPA president (and Bengals tackle) Eric Winston reacted to the recent stew of comments from the league office and various owners with a strong reaction to some of the statements from those aligned with the league.
“I think like [NFL executive V.P. of player health and safety] Jeff Miller said, I think we think there’s a link [between football and Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy],” Winston said. “Now what does that link mean? The one thing that we’ve always stood for and the one thing we will continue to stand for is the science. Where is the science telling us to go, what’s the science telling us to do and how can we help move that science along? . . . We’re going to keep pushing that, we’re going to keep pushing those boundaries. Not just in prevention, not just in treatments but also, ‘OK, what is it and what exactly is it doing and how is it affecting us?’ And I think that’s important.
“But I also think it’s important to outline just some of the ridiculous comments that were made. I was offended personally by some of these owners’ comments. You know, just take an aspirin or that football isn’t that dangerous or this and that. I mean, obviously, we know some of the risk going into it. We understand that it’s a contact sport, and we’re doing everything we can to make it as safe as possible but some of the flipping comments that were made from the owners were, like I said, rather offensive and kind of tarnish I think what we’re trying to do in this health and safety phase.”