What’s hot in health and safety news involving football:
* The Washington Times published an in-depth report on how the NFL’s proactive measures are addressing concussions as they happen. It presented some encouraging numbers for the league.
The high-profile injuries opened a window into the NFL’s strict return-to-play protocol for concussions, adopted in 2009 and adjusted in 2011, that is a cornerstone of its effort to improve the game’s safety. The issue is impossible to escape, from the large posters in every NFL locker room demonstrating proper tackling technique and warning about life-altering consequences of concussions to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell delivering a speech Thursday at Harvard’s School of Public Health entitled “Leadership on the road to a safer game.” … The surge of interest in concussions after last Sunday doesn’t mean the number of head injuries is surging. Through Week 9 of the regular season, NFL concussions are actually down, according to data on publicly-disclosed concussions compiled by the respected “Concussion Blog.” It reports 77 regular-season concussions, an average of 8.55 per week compared to 10.2 per week in 2011. Eighty concussions were recorded through the first nine weeks of the 2011 season and 77 over the same period in 2010.
* Criticism of the league continued as Fox Sports’ Greg Couch said the NFL is more concerned about protocol than concussions.
The truth is, there is no way of solving this problem. It will never go away, mostly because of the roughness of the game. And the gray areas make it tough, too.
The Post-Gazette yesterday revealed the rib injury that coach Mike Tomlin did not mention at his press conference on Tuesday, and that it could be as serious as the shoulder. Roethlisberger said it is a dislocation of the first rib that could puncture his aorta and that it is the bigger concern of the two.
* Comcast SportsNet Bay Area reported that Alex Smith has passed his concussion tests and is cleared to practice.
* Slate Magazine asked why we let kids play tackle football in a roundtable of journalists.
* 49ers.com reported on owner Dr. John York taking part in a concussion conference in Zurich, Switzerland.
* KCBS-TV in San Francisco reported on a former 49ers player who is homeless and suffering from dementia.
* A Vancouver Sun columnist said players who ignore the ringing bells in their ears are doing so at their own peril.
* The Canadian Press wrote about Montreal Alouettes linebacker Shea Emry, who is happy to be playing in the CFL Eastern Division final this Sunday after missing most of last season with a concussion.
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor