Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 7/11/12

Throughout the last few years, the NFL and NFLPA have kept no secrets about their intentions to reduce the amount of concussions that occur during the course of play. With the recent, tragic deaths of Dave Duerson, Ray Easterling and Junior Seau, there are several questions being asked and significant research to be done regarding the effect that concussions may have on the brains of former NFL players. For New York Giants President and CEO John Mara, the subject of brain trauma is more than just a public relations issue.

“For me, it’s a personal thing, because I grew up with these guys. It’s shocking to me to see guys who, when they were players, you’d say, ‘This guy is going to have a good post-football career — very smart, has his degree …And then it’s 10 years later, and he’s broke and out of work. It kills you to see that. It absolutely kills you,” Mara said.

With these tragic events that have unfolded throughout the last several offseasons, approximately 80 percent of the leagues former players have taken legal action against the NFL for neglecting to address the issue of player safety. It can be debated as to whether these lawsuits hold legal strength. However, in the court of public opinion, the NFL is losing the battle, and John Mara knows it.

“The notion in these lawsuits that we knew there were long-term effects and we withheld that information is ridiculous. Is there some kind of cause and effect? I don’t know, I’ll let the medical experts tell you that; common sense would tell you that there is. But to say we knew it and withheld it, I really find that objectionable.”

Furthermore, the leagues Competition Committee has been actively searching for ways in which to reduce the amount of high impact situations that occur throughout the game. Last season, moving the kickoff to the 40 yard line helped reduce concussions by 40 percent. However, the changes may not stop there. Mara stated the following regarding future potential rule changes:

“I don’t know if (eliminating kickoffs) will ever happen. But the new protocols we have about taking guys out of games if there’s any suspicion of a concussion” are doing what they were designed to do.

Although eliminating the kickoff would be wildly unpopular with  fans, it would undoubtedly decrease concussions even further. With the recent findings regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and the effects brain trauma may have on players, the NFL may eventually be left with no choice.

The recent topic of brain trauma in retired NFL players has sparked a revolution within the game. It has become a factor in everything from collective bargaining negotiations to the way in which players are allowed to physically engage their opponents. Although these changes may make watching the NFL slightly less exciting for the traditional, "old school" football fan, player safety must be the paramount factor in all changes that take place within the game going forward.

In order to protect the future of the NFL, the players that take the field on Sunday must be provided with a relatively safe environment in which to earn their living. It will be interesting to see how the NFL evolves going forward as it implements further ways in which to reduce concussions.


Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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