Today’s health and safety news around football:
* NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was the cover subject of this week’s TIME magazine. While the in-depth interview dealt with many aspects of his life and career, the one area gaining attention is the trial balloon he floated about getting rid of kickoffs. The play already is known as the game’s biggest cause of head injuries.
One idea that Goodell predicts will get more consideration: eliminating kickoffs. Fans may object to this rule change, since kickoffs produce thrilling returns. TIME sat in on a meeting between Goodell and Rich McKay, head of the NFL’s powerful competition committee. Goodell brought up a proposal promoted by Greg Schiano, coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: after a touchdown or field goal, instead of kicking off, a team would get the ball on its own 30-yard line, where it’s fourth and 15. The options are either to go for it and try to retain possession, or punt. If you go for it and fall short, the opposing team would take over with good field position. In essence, punts would replace kickoffs, and punts are less susceptible to violent collisions than kickoffs. “The fact is,” Goodell says. “It’s a much different end of the play … It’s an off-the-wall idea. It’s different and makes you think differently. It did me.”
* The reaction has not stopped since TIME hit the newsstand. Green Bay Packers special teams coach Shawn Slocum told the Green Bay Press-Gazette:
“It would change the game quite a bit,” Slocum said. “I think there’s some things that will be different. I think the field position will change. Punting the ball will be less predictable than a kickoff in terms of the flight of the ball. I haven’t had a chance to really digest it all, but I think it would definitely have an effect on the game.”
* But Chicago Bears special teams coach Dave Taub told the Chicago Tribune he wants nothing of it.
“I understand they are trying to do things for safety reasons, but I am not a big advocate of it,” special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. “They are getting what they were expecting to get by changing those rules. There are definitely fewer hard, hard collisions like you used to see. I don’t know why any more changes need to be made.”
* And in light of the article, SB Nation offered three ways to stop concussions in pro and college football.
* Meanwhile, Chicago Magazine had a few ideas about how to cut down on concussions, including.
… the most significant modifications are likely to occur behind the scenes. Those alterations will “make the games as safe as they can possibly be without losing the excitement,” says Hunt Batjer, a neurosurgeon at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center who cochairs the NFL’s Head, Neck, and Spine Medical Committee.
* Former NFL tight end Ernie Conwell talked to Fox Business News about the progress the NFL has made in treating head injuries.
* A column in the Albany Times Union said it was about time that head injuries became such a major social issue.
* The Massillon Independent wrote that the Ohio concussion laws lack enough procedures for student-athletes.
* Boston Globe blogger Alice Cook wrote that the concussion issue is out there for all sports, not just helmet sports.
* KGO-TV in San Francisco reported on Bill Elkins, whose company, Welkin’s LLC, has designed a portable emergency cooling system to help triage traumatic brain injuries like concussions.
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor