Today’s health and safety news surrounding football:
* The Sacramento Bee’s Matt Barrows reported that in an environment where NFL players often hide post-concussion symptoms, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith might have been honest to a fault. And that might be costing him his starting job..
But you have to wonder whether Smith’s situation reinforces the notion held by some players – Brian Urlacher springs to mind — that it’s not in their interest to be so forthright about post-concussion symptoms. After all, if Smith had kept quiet and played against Chicago, win or lose, the 49ers would not be entertaining the thought of Colin Kaepernick starting Sunday against the Saints. Urlacher, the Bears linebacker, has said he’d lie to doctors to get back on the field following a concussion. Some players have been known to tank the baseline cognitive tests they take in the offseason so they can easily match their scores if they have to retake them following a concussion. Smith did just what the NFL wants, and he may lose his starting job because of it. He might end up as the poster boy for the Urlacher-ian way of thinking, the Wally Pipp of concussions.
For their research, scientists have placed sensors on the athletes’ helmets and have been filming them in action with high-definition, super-slow-motion cameras to monitor the speed the head is traveling before and after impact. The players also wear special mouth guards with accelerometers and gyrometers embedded in them that gauge the linear and rotational acceleration of the head during a hit. They plan to compare the data from contacts that lead to concussions with the non-concussive impacts to see what, if any, differences there are.
* The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Eagles quarterback Nick Foles will start again in place of Michael Vick, who is still recovering from a concussion.
* WLBZ-TV in Bangor, Maine looked at how the state’s concussion law is making a difference.
* Eastern Wake News reported on how area sports beside football are dealing with concussion prevention.
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor