NFL HEALTH AND SAFETY UPDATE — FEBRUARY 6, 2013
Super Bowl XLVII NFL Health & Safety Press Conference
The NFL hosted a press conference during Super Bowl week in New Orleans to discuss developments from the 2012 season; research advances, including work with the National Institutes of Health; progress in youth concussion laws; and updates on programs and benefits available to current players. The NFL also announced the addition for 2013 of an unaffiliated neurological consultant on the sidelines of all games to aid in the identification and treatment of concussions.
Participants in the event included:
* Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, Co-Chairman, NFL Head Neck and Spine Committee
* Eric Hipple, former NFL quarterback (1980-1989), Outreach Specialist, University of Michigan Depression Center
* Jeff Pash, NFL Executive Vice President and General Counsel
* Dr. David Satcher, Director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine and 16th Surgeon General of the United States
* Troy Vincent, NFL Vice President of Player Engagement
* Dr. Anthony Yates, team physician of the Pittsburgh Steelers and President, NFL Physicians’ Society
* Dr. John York, Co-Chairman, San Francisco 49ers and Chairman, NFL Owners Committee on Health and Safety
Key quotes from the session are below:
Medical staff and player health:
* Pash: “We’re going to include with team medical staffs this coming season an unaffiliated neurological consultant, who will work with the team medical staffs to ensure that not only do you have an extra set of eyes on the field to monitor play, but that there is another expert on the sidelines to assist in the identification, diagnosis and management of players who’ve had concussions.”
* Pash: “You have to know your players. That’s one reason why, whether it’s a concussion, an orthopedic injury, any kind of injury, someone who knows the player is in the position to make the best evaluation.”
* Dr. York: “In December, there was a meeting with the Foundation of the NIH with about 50 different researchers [from] across the U.S. to look at PET scans, other types of scans, equipment, autopsy results and helmets. All of those at the moment are being studied, and the NIH will help decide the best studies in the next year.”
Youth sports and safety:
* Dr. Ellenbogen: “We are looking at a culture change. This includes the 350 million kids around the world that play soccer, the people that play football in America, lacrosse and so on. It’s all sports. It’s the playground. We know that if we can make it a little safer, it’ll be safer for our kids.”
* Pash: “The entire range of issues is being focused on, and it includes education at all levels. Education not only for our medical staffs – the doctors and trainers who provide care for our players – but for players themselves, for the coaching staffs, the officials, and for parents and coaches with youth leagues. We hope to be setting an example that can spread to all levels of play and in sports beyond just football.”
Mental health and wellness efforts:
* Hipple: “(Mental health) is something we should teach, and maybe we’re finally at the point in time where we’re taking a stand [for] it.”
* Vincent: “We launched two weeks ago the second phase of our Code of Wellness initiative. One was a lifeline and the LINK2HEALTH SOLUTIONS and the Jed Foundation. The second was focusing on four core areas: mental, physical, emotional and financial strength.”
The NFL and General Electric (GE) partner to advance concussion prevention and detection
The New York Times reported last Sunday that the NFL and GE are discussing a four-year initiative with a combined commitment of at least $50 million to address two key topics related to concussions. The first is how to better diagnose and measure the severity of head injuries. The second is how to improve brain protection. GE and the NFL will launch an innovation challenge for the submission of proposals to improve brain protection. More information on the partnership is available in the New York Times story here.
Two-Thirds of Americans Would Let Sons Play Football
In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, President Barack Obama commented that he would have to think “long and hard” about letting his son, if he had one, play football due to safety concerns. The president’s comments sparked a larger conversation about safety in football as well as all contact sports, a conversation that Commissioner Roger Goodell said that he welcomes. In addition to the commissioner, several NFL coaches, current and former players, and members of the media reacted to the president’s comments during Super Bowl week. According to a Seton Hall Sports Poll, two-thirds of Americans disagree with the president and would let their sons play football.
Honolulu football team receives new helmets and lesson in safety
Football players from Farrington High School in Honolulu participated in a USA FOOTBALL health and safety clinic on January 25 in the lead up to the 2013 Pro Bowl. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell attended the event and spoke to more than 130 students, coaches and parents about the importance of “taking the head out of the game.” USA Football provided information about proper tackling techniques, the signs and symptoms of concussions and heat stroke. The presentation emphasized that players, as good teammates, must notify their coaches if they think they or another player have suffered a concussion. Representatives from Riddell were on hand to demonstrate how to properly fit a helmet to ensure the best protection. The NFL and Riddell donated 60 helmets to the high school team.
Coach Randall Okimoto said, “The presentation really helped our team and community members realize the importance of health and safety in football. As a coach and parent, our top priority is to teach those for whom we are responsible of the value of heads up football as well as the signs and symptoms of any head injury.”
– NFL Communications