NEWS

DeMaurice Smith reminds players about concussion specialists

The union reminded its 2,000 players Saturday about the dangers of concussions and that there will be a new set of eyes on the sidelines this season.

ESPN obtained an email from NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, who told the players about the league's concussion guidelines and also made them aware of the independent medical specialists who will be on each sideline during games.


"Before you all take the field tomorrow, we wanted to make sure that you were aware of ... important changes we have implemented to protect your health and safety.


"First, as the NFL announced at the Super Bowl -- at our insistence -- they have agreed to have 'Unaffiliated Neuro-trauma Consultants' this season. These experts are independent of any Club, are specialized in concussion treatment, and are there to observe or perform all concussion examinations.


"... We will continue to stress the importance of workplace safety. If any of you have questions about either of these developments, or if you want to raise issues, please contact your player representative."


The concussion experts, who will not be paid by the teams, either will be neurologists, emergency medical doctors or EMTs with head-trauma expertise. They will "make the determination of whether a player should be taken to locker room for the concussion IMPACT test, which is now programmed into an iPad and will take 8 to 12 minutes to complete," ESPN wrote.


Fox Sports reported Smith said in the same letter that the NFLPA is keeping a close eye on field conditions. That's a heightened worry after it was feared that Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III might have aggravated a knee injury during last season's playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks because of poor sod at FedEx Field.


"Given some of the issues that we witness with respect to unsafe field conditions last year," Smith wrote in the email, which was obtained by Fox Sports, "an NFLPA field inspector will attend and observe NFL-conducted field-testing sessions to ensure the playing surface is as safe as possible."


For now, there will be one field inspector for the union. He will coordinate with the league and teams on which field or fields he will monitor each week.


Smith wrote about the importance of stressing "workplace safety," which includes making sure the natural and artificial playing conditions are up to par and not, as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of FedEx Field's grass in the days following RGIII's injury, "horrible."


-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor

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