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The concussion conundrum

Discussion in 'NFL Football Forum' started by Tunescribe, May 13, 2012.

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  1. Tunescribe

    Tunescribe PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #61 Jersey

    The whole football-concussion issue had been on my mind a lot in recent months, even before Junior Seau's death. Now, it's front-and-center pretty much constantly. I'm all over the place with thoughts about it.

    On one hand, I hate how it's been taking some of the naturally aggressive play away from the NFL game per Goodell-driven legislation. On the other hand, it appears that practically NOTHING will protect players from long-term health problems, and that's scary as hell.

    Now we've got extremists calling for even more radical rules changes, ex-players filing suit by the hundreds, guys retiring early, people prohibiting their kids from playing organized football, etc., etc. So what's next? Is pro football ending as we know it, slowly morphing into touch football? Is medical science finally catching up to a sport whose very essence was a mistake to begin with?

    I've loved this game since I was a kid, but things seem headed for a crossroads. Or are they? Is an end to the game as we've known it inevitable, or is this just a passing wave of media over-analysis? I wonder if the concussion issue and all the fallout around it has tempered anyone's enthusiasm for the game as a fan. For me, it's been hanging like a little black cloud and I'm waiting for the sun to shine.
     
  2. Observer

    Observer 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    I think that pro football will become more and more of a purely spectator sport rather than a participatory one. It is too dangerous to be played in backyards and parks with the same rules as exist in the pros, and that is the real bad news for the sport. I think it will still exist and be quite popular, dangerous sports like motor racing, etc. still exists despite the risk to life and limb. But it is going to be more of a thing for people to watch rather than to play.
     
  3. NSPF

    NSPF Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    I don't think anyone really knows. I am personally of the opinion that the game will stay largely unchanged, aside from rule changes such as the defenseless receiver rule.

    First of all, it seems certain that the NCAA won't be looking to turn their league into touch football, so there will still be loads of highly talented players coming out of college. Even if these players fully understand the risks of playing in the NFL, they'll still choose to play.

    The lawsuits, if I understand correctly, are largely about players not being properly informed about the risks. So as long as the incoming players are properly informed, I don't see them being able to push lawsuits in the future. Furthermore, they also won't have as much leverage through the media, so the NFL won't be under as much pressure legally or publicly.

    Finally, the fan base would just flat out not be receptive to drastic changes. If there are drastic changes in the future of the NFL, they will be incremental, and put into place over the span of many years. However, the rule book is already complicated as it is, and at some point the rules may become too complicated for the average fan to know (heck, they already are), which is also bad for the NFL.
     
  4. SEA_Pat

    SEA_Pat On the Game Day Roster

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    It is a major worry for me also - especially as this risk is inherent in several sports I like including hockey and MMA.

    I wonder whether one of the biggest problems is the helmet. I live in Southeast Asia, where a common debate topic in the bars with mates is about rugby versus football (or "gridiron" as they usually call it to distinguish it from that namby-pamby pathetic game of soccer).

    They usually consider football to be a game for pussies since players wear so much protective equipment. I always point out that the impacts in football are much higher than in rugby for that same reason, you can launch yourself as a tackler because you're wearing a helmet and other protective gear so the players are moving at higher speed and are wearing hardened armour. That level of kinetic energy and the equipment itself causes more, and more serious, injuries than rugby players tend to get. Rugby players are penalized for high tackles and would never hit another players head with their own for simple reasons of self-preservation. Even in the scrum, where three players from each side collide with more force than typically happens on the line in football, they arrange it so their heads don't collide.

    According to the information I've read, there's not much that can be done with helmet design, because the cause of the damage is the brain sloshing around inside the skull and impacting with the skull itself even when protected by a helmet. The cumulative effect of this is what causes the syndrome. It seems pretty obvious that this is affecting a lot of people, and if the evidence keeps mounting, then it won't be able to go on.

    So what to do about it? If you remove the helmets, will players be able to play some form of football while protecting themselves or will they be further endangered because of direct exposure to blows from shoulder pads and other equipment? Artificial turf would also have to be gotten rid of in this situation. Are we destined to turn into a hybrid game combining the relative lack of equipment of rugby with the rules of football? I reckon that's the likely end result.
     
  5. patsfan13

    patsfan13 Hall of Fame Poster PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I have wondered about the evolution of the equipment. When I was a kid the Shoulder pads were still a hard leadther with felt underneth, the plastic helmets were out but you could still buy a kids leather helmet.

    Cars had rigid steel frames that wouldn't bend very much so in a collision the frame took a much higher load before deforming which transferred the energy to the occupants. Now the frame in engineered to deform and asorb energy rather than transferring the energy to the occupants.

    Witht he rigid plastic helmets ALL the energy of the blow is being transferred to the other helmet and the skill is held on place and the energy is transferred to the skull with only the cushoning dissapating the energy. Same with the Shoulder pads even the hard plastics transfer a lot of energy.

    What if the helmets and shoulder pads were made from a different type of material. SOmething like a temperpedic type material with more structural rigidity to abord the energy before it reaches the skull. IMO you could reengineer the helmet and pads. Someone need to come up with an 'outside the box' type of solution. Here are some examples of other approaches to helmet design:

    MIPS | Test results that speak for themselves

    Bulwark football helmets aim to improve concussion safety without compromising style - ESPN





    The NFL and NCAA (they have tons of $$$ they should invest in new equipmnt designs.

    My father is 88, he has been a football fan all his life and used to be a boxing fan, as he became aware of the permanent injuries from boxing he lost interest in the sport, he has told me he is starting to feel the same way about football as he sees the long term effects on the players.
     
  6. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    How many people actually play tackle football at home without pads?

    Then again, as someone noted on this board, rugby players don't seem to have nearly as many concussions as football players do. . . .
     
  7. Tunescribe

    Tunescribe PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    This is interesting stuff. Essentially, the game and players have continued to get faster and more powerful and everything has been compensated for EXCEPT the human knee and brain. And we all know you can't play the game without either (insert gratuitous Jets joke here ;)).

    I remember having one minor concussion playing high school football, but there were countless slight "dings" that, in a cumulative sense, are now being recognized as part of the overall problem. One thing that happened to me in high school has me thinking further about the helmet question: early my junior year I injured my neck -- a partially dislocated vertebrae that quick action by a trusted chiropractor was able to rectify. I subsequently was fitted with a foam "donut" collar. Looking back I'm not sure the thing fit properly, because my helmet was slightly of "elevated" by the collar and there was space between the top of my head and the helmet's inner protective suspension system. But I think because of that, my head absorbed less direct force from hits because the shock was transferred from the helmet's shell to the collar and then to the shoulder pads where the collar attached.

    This recently got me wondering that instead of new helmet design, they need to consider a shock-absorbing helmet/neck pad/shoulder pads "system" of one protective unit that diffuses impact trauma away from the head. I don't know. One possible issue is head-neck mobility (being able to turn your head quickly). Is this feasible? Does anyone know if something like this has been researched? I'm curious.
     
  8. Fencer

    Fencer Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    When people have car accidents and so on, we don't generally hear much about concussions. I.e., the brain doesn't get MORE messed up than the rest of the body.

    So theoretically, there might be some way to cushion things to reduce the concussion risk.
     
  9. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think it's interesting to think about removing the helmet, or maybe going back to a leather helmet.

    Here's one thing we have to consider: O-Line play would have to "devolve" back a few decades. The first thing that happens when the ball is snapped is that everything made of plastic whacks everything else made of plastic with little or no regard for the effect.

    Given the rugby experience, every other sort of hit would naturally just devolve back to what the body could bear. Nobody would spear anybody with an unprotected head. Nobody would hit at head level without faceguards and helmets. And those harrowing shots of people being face-masked would be a thing of the past.

    I remember vividly in youth league football how cool it was when everybody discovered how to "ring somebody's bell." Sort of akin to when you discovered how cool it was to kick somebody in the balls. We spent a good month or so experimenting with kicking each other in the balls through one or another subterfuge before the novelty wore off. In terms of what I now understand was giving each other concussions, I think we got a "Hey hey HEY don't do that" pretty early on. Once somebody runs a couple of laps for it, the fun sport of casual concussions becomes not worth your while.

    But in line play you know good and well those bells are getting run whenever the opportunity presents itself, not to mention some other unsavory activity the camera and the ref don't care too much about.

    I think you'd have to re-figure how the lines work... the explosion off the snap is sort of untenable without protective gear. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we'll have to study what they did off the snap in the 1940s. And if they were getting concussions constantly, maybe we'll end up with guys counting mississippis in the pro game. [shudder]


    PFnV
     
  10. Snake Eyes

    Snake Eyes Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    Concussions are and will always be an issue in contact sports, that said I think the problems resulting from them are vastly overstated because of an agenda to ban football. The concussion lobby is trying to milk the Seau incident as much as they can but how many people talk about the biochemical situation with these athletes?

    All that physical contact produces a lot more testosterone in the body, not to mention plenty of adrenaline, so it's almost like they're getting regular fixes of a drug. You then take away that drug, which they've likely become addicted to on some level, you take away the generous NFL salary which they likely can't anything even close to outside of football, the female admirers go away, and they still have all the aches and pains from years of physical abuse, do you really think they wouldnt suffer from depression?

    The weird thing is that if it were a drug addict trying to get off drugs we'd expect that they'd have trouble and difficulty in getting themselves normal but we don't have the same respect for a football player and professional soldier that we do a heroin addict, we expect the athlete and solder to simply put on a suit and become a normal person like everyone else.

    Football players are taking a risk when they step onto that field, but they're also getting rewarded very handsomely. The only solution is to man up and accept that risk is a part of life and respect the free choice of those that are making it.
     
  11. Snake Eyes

    Snake Eyes Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    Lighter helmets would definitely help. The problem with the helmet is that it provides extra weight on the head, so when someone's body is hit there's extra momentum pulling their head in a direction, which increases the kinetic impact of their brain inside their skull.

    Also, since that weight is surrounding the head, which can be thought of as a lever extending from the neck, there's extra torque on the neck (think Manning), making a neck injury more likely.
     
  12. Tunescribe

    Tunescribe PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    This is why I suggested (above) that a head/neck/shoulder protective UNIT be researched to replace the "unattached" helmet. This might be more applicable to linemen, at least initially.
     
  13. Frezo

    Frezo In the Starting Line-Up

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    The better protected players are, the harder they hit, the harder they hit, the more protection they need, ad infinitum. Just adding protection to lineman is questionable. What happens when an offensive lineman meets a less protected linebacker?

    The major issue of the lawsuit by ex-players isn't the fact that they were concussed, but that they weren't informed of the long term effects. I say the league needs to hold one or two day long workshops every year explaining the long term effects and teach players how to play with technique that will minimize the risk of getting concussions. Players need to understand that they will get concussions. That's the nature of the sport and a risk to be taken if they elect to play. After that, let the chips fall where they may and allow the game to evolve.

    Every job carries certain levels of health risks from getting shot by a drug crazed speed limit violator to carpal tunnel syndrome caused by poor office ergonomics. Workers cannot sue employers provided they are informed of these risks and are taught how to minimize their occurrences. Failure of an employee to follow health and safety guidelines puts the onus on them when injuries happen. The NFL has to become pro-active by increasing concussion and injury awareness rather than reactive and players need to take responsibility for their decisions.
     
  14. Ron Sellers

    Ron Sellers 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    I think what needs to be done (and should have started with a much greater sense of urgency long ago) is complete overhaul of the design and construction of player's safety equipment by an independent and unbiased group - i.e., not the NFL, and not the current equipment manufacturers. If it results in something that looks and feels radically different, then so be it. It would also help if the outer surface was not as hard as the current equipment as, as helmets and shoulder pads are often the weapons that cause injury.

    There was a time when if you so much as nudged a computer the hard drive would crash; for the last several years you can buy laptops that never skip a beat even when dropped five feet onto concrete. How about, for example, incorporating some of the same technology that protects that equipment into helmets? How about taking what has been learned over the last forty years in automobile safety and applying it to the science of constructing a helmet? Maybe something from the research that went into designing bicycle rider's helmets can be of use, or more effective mouthguards can be beneficial.

    Personally I don't get the impression that the NFL has done much more than a superficial glance at safer equipment over the years. With the amount of money being generated by the league there is truly no excuse for that to continue.
     
  15. Avenger

    Avenger Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

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    It already is different in backyards, its called two hand touch. Every two receptions is a first down.
     
  16. SEA_Pat

    SEA_Pat On the Game Day Roster

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    Have you read any of the articles summarizing the brain studies? This is not an issue of chemical dependency and psychological adjustment, it's one of degeneration of brain tissue as a result of multiple concussions. Something that can be seen with a microscope in tissue samples.

    At what age do they have the freedom to choose and can be considered to fully understand the risk and consequences? If this syndrome is shown to start when they're kids, then it is unlikely that it will be allowed to continue. Even if it is, the number of parents who allow kids to play will drastically choke off the supply of available players.
     
  17. Snake Eyes

    Snake Eyes Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    I never said that concussion aren't a factor but that it's being way overstated, easy to see in the case of Seau when they're blaming concussions before any medical examination is done.

    That won't stop the game from going on, plenty of players come in with virtually no football experience and blossom into great players. Perhaps one day colleges will drop football and we'll have a real minor/alternate league to get them ramped up before they go to the pros.
     
  18. mayoclinic

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    I think the concussion issue is a huge one. Chad Ochocinco's letter articulated the fundamental paradox - at some point you have to either accept the risks and embrace what is fundamentally a violent game, or get out. But a lot more can be done to make the risks less, and to monitor those who suffer injuries.

    As big as the concussion issue is, it's part of a bigger issue: for decades the NFL has treated players as cattle, and has essentially discarded them once their utility expired. There has been little in the way of benefits, medical monitoring, counselling, support, or post-NFL career advising for players. These guys are used to being idolized on Sundays, and then suddenly the floor drops out of their lives.

    Matt Light's retirement was a stark contrast to Junior Seau's suicide. Light clearly has his head on straight and has embraced the work of his foundation, family, community service and a life that exists outside of football. Seau struggled. Concussions may certainly have played a role, and there needs to be better medical attention and monitoring to minimize the extent of organic damage that players suffer, but there needs to be much more in place to help these players once they leave the game.

    Peter King reported a heart-warming story today in MMQB:

    Tom Brady has impressive*longevity; an inspirational tale; more league notes - Peter King - SI.com

    Football players have the ability to do so much for their communities and causes they embrace. And getting them involved in opportunities outside of football - whether commercial or philanthropic - gives them a purpose and focus to help fill the void which the game leaves behind. It's not a substitute for safety issues and medical care, but safety and post-career monitoring should be part of a larger program to help players succeed at life after they leave the football field.
     
  19. Snake Eyes

    Snake Eyes Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    I'm thinking a good first step would be to actually crack down on players who pull this kind of nonsense, IMO the league gives these guys a slap on the wrist.

    Cheap hit by Meriweather on Heap - YouTube

    What punishment was 'Stomper' given for that hit?

    James Harrison hit on Colt McCoy 2011 - YouTube

    James Harrison only gets a 1 game suspension for headhunting on Colt McCoy?

    Until the league actually takes this kind of thing seriously I'm not interested in any talk they give regarding concussions.

    Also, while a concussion is nothing to take likely it pales in comparison to a broken neck.

    William Gholston Punch - YouTube

    This kind of thing can leave a man dead or paralized, I wouldnt hesitate to suspend him for a season for this kind of garbage.
     
  20. JohninLynn

    JohninLynn Rookie

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    Player safety the league’s been botching
    As a fan one’s conscience needs squashing
    When football helmets clang
    One can’t help a guilt pang
    It wouldn’t happen if we weren’t watching
     
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