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Friday, February 26, 2010
New Column on NFL Teams Cutting Players with Post Concussion Symptoms

In the wake of the Eagles cutting Brian Westbrook, I have a new column on the legal, ethical, and political implications of NFL teams cutting players who suffer from concussions. Here's an excerpt:

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The NFL's collective bargaining agreement does not distinguish concussions from other injuries for purposes of cutting a player. But should it?

After all, there is an arguable disconnect between the NFL's stated commitment to addressing the concussion problem and the ability of teams to cut players who were injured by concussions. In his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last October, commissioner Roger Goodell said of the link between head injuries and brain ailments, "I can think of no issue to which I've devoted more time and attention than the health and well-being of our players, and particularly retired players."

If that is true, shouldn't players who suffer concussions receive heightened employment protections? In fact, if a player can be cut because of postconcussion symptoms, he may have an incentive to not reveal his injury, a decision that could undermine his health, particularly his long term neurological health.

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NFL teams, for their part, could argue that their decision to cut players who suffer from postconcussion symptoms is neither heartless nor at odds with league efforts to curb concussions; rather, it is a necessity of a salary cap that ties teams' hands. Teams might also insist that it's not their fault if a player suffers concussions -- it's the sport's fault or an unfortunate materialization of risk that every NFL player assumes every down he plays.

Still, the NFL may want to think carefully about teams cutting players with postconcussion symptoms. Congress would seem poised to revisit the concussion topic if there were a pattern of players cut after suffering concussions. Congress has leverage over the NFL, including the threat that it can repeal the Sports Broadcasting Act, which provides antitrust immunity to the NFL and other leagues for their national TV deals. Congress might also re-evaluate the NFL's status as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization, which furnishes the league with favorable tax treatment.

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Hope you have a chance to read the rest of the column. I'll be on ESPN Radio's John Clayton Show at 6 p.m. Saturday to discuss the column.


Thanks for the updating post collection...........

Serious and Catastrophic Injury Claims.Work injuries Lawyer Temecula

Blogger jessica -- 2/27/2010 2:42 AM  

I am not certain that this issue will prompt Congress to look at its SBA antitrust protection for the NFL or the NFL's 501(c)(6) status. I do think that the union, if it has finally taken a real interest in this issue, could press for better health coverage and pension benefits for player's with post-concussion complications. That said, how about considering the following: (1) requiring players to use a full mouthpiece similar to the one used by boxers (this could help prevent concussions); (2) a return to the use of horse-collars to protect from whiplash-type bending of the head; (3) increased penalties for spearing or other uses of the crown of the helmet in tackling (and I realize that this can be difficult to assess given the tremendous speed of the game); (4) continued improvement of helmets so that they distribute energy down through the shoulder pads.

If we really want to prevent cutting players with concussions, we could consider a new category of injured reserve players that would not count towards the hard salary cap in the NFL.

Frankly, I am generally a pro-labor guy, but what I find troubling is the many examples of times when the NFLPA could step forward on health issues and has failed to do so.

Blogger Ed Edmonds -- 2/27/2010 2:30 PM

Boxing mouth guards make a big difference, the NFL alumni are endorsing the use of an appliance developed with Marvin Hagler and used by the N.E. Patriots for over two decades.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 2/28/2010 6:02 PM  

Last week's ESPN the Magazine article adds an interesting layer for the public to consider.

Blogger Boully -- 1/13/2011 1:50 PM  

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