NFL, NFLPA unveil new concussion protocol enforcement policy

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Last year’s embarrassing failure of the Rams and the NFL to get quarterback Case Keenum off the field when he obviously had suffered a concussion resulted in no discipline for anyone involved. However, that failure apparently has contributed directly to the development of a new procedure for enforcing the concussion protocol with real discipline moving forward.

The joint agreement of the NFL and NFL Players Association announced Monday entails each party designate a representative “to monitor the implementation of the protocol and investigate potential violations.” The press release announcing the program explains that “[t]he investigation will not reach medical conclusions; it will only determine whether the protocol was followed.” After the investigation, the league and union “will review the findings to determine if a violation occurred and, if so, to recommend the proper disciplinary response.”

If the parties can’t agree on whether a violation occurred, the matter will be submitted to a third-party arbitrator. The arbitrator eventually will issue a report to Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, and the involved parties.

Ultimately, Goodell has “absolute discretion” to determine the penalties. Still, this process creates a high degree of transparency, making it much harder for situations to be swept under the rug.

A first violation can trigger a fine of up to $150,000. If Goodell finds aggravating circumstances, the minimum fine will be $50,000. Subsequent violations will result in minimum fines of $100,000.

The procedure also allows for the Commissioner to strip draft picks, if Goodell “determines that the club’s medical team failed to follow the protocol due to competitive considerations.”

That’s the provision that will get the attention of the teams. Fines are viewed a cost of doing business; lost draft picks directly affect the ability to do business.

Whether it ever comes to that remains to be seen. Regardless, it appears that something good finally has emerged from last year’s bizarre failure of the Rams and the league to protect Case Keenum.

20 responses to “NFL, NFLPA unveil new concussion protocol enforcement policy

  1. Ultimately, Goodell has “absolute discretion” to determine the penalties.
    What a surprise!

  2. Ultimately this incentivizes violent hits more than any bounty program ever could. 15 yd penalty and a $50k fine are a small price to pay to knock a star player out of a big game, and with teams worried about a loss of draft picks they will be erring on the side of caution.

    Anyway despite all that I am happy for anything intended to make the players safer, even if it isn’t a perfect system

  3. All punishments will be appealed to Troy Vincent who will then dole out slaps on the wrists.

  4. This is such a ruse.

    It doesn’t do anything to stop or treat concussions, it just helps make sure concussions get identified.

    Whether a player continues to play or not after suffering a concussion doesn’t stop concussions from happening, it only helps them from getting worse…whoopdie-do.

    The NFL needs to find a way to protect these players’ brains from being concussed in the first place.

  5. As long as Goodell has final say the Jests & Ravens can violate the protocol with impunity. NE, NO and KC best be on their toes though

  6. Never understood why they don’t mandate that all teams purchase and all players wear the highest industry-standard level of concussion-preventative helmets. You STILL see players wearing the old style.

  7. No teeth
    Violation should result in 1 game suspension for head coach
    1 game suspension for player after he is cleared to return

  8. Goodell having all the discretion makes sense… the teams need to be outright fearful of the consequences should they endanger players

    everyone complains about Goodells discretion on discipline, but it has some serious advanteges… teams and players will do anything to win and then people get injured and sue

  9. The NFL is trying, and they’ve come a long way. Auto racing has made great strides in protecting it’s drivers, but occasionally, a driver gets killed. Electricians take precautions, but once in a while someone gets electrocuted. Nobody is 100% safe. Sitting home on the couch all day long is probably worse for your health. In fact, sitting on the couch is so boring, we jump on websites and complain about the NFL commissioner. How boring are our lives?

  10. All they need to do is to coach up those Pittsburgh DB’s to stop hitting folks with their helmets and this problem disappears………

  11. The player always seems to get a pass on this. There should be a provision that sanctions the player if he actively deceives or evades the med staff. Obviously, a player with a severe concussion might not be capable of deception but many “lesser” concussions can be missed due to some acting. If a player is capable of deciding to try and deceive then he is capable of deciding not to as well.

  12. trailerparkking says:
    Jul 25, 2016 5:21 PM

    This shall be known as the Julian Edelman Rule.
    The thing is, they actually had spotters by then and Edelman actually did go through the protocol.

    As opposed to, for example, a prime time Hines Ward incident, the Colt McCoy incident, the Jahleel Addae incident…

  13. I was watching this game live when it happened.

    My jaw hit the floor as I watched Keenum wobbling around, still in the game.

    If your system can’t catch this one, it can’t catch anything!!

  14. So Goodell makes up yet ANOTHER rule to get back to punish New England for winning too much. Looks like they will have ZERO draft picks next season!

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