Any football fan would agree: Roger Goodell, commissioner of the most powerful sports business in the United States, the NFL, has not been the greatest when it comes to the sport’s biggest issues: domestic violence (can I hear a two-game suspension for Ray Rice?), greed from the owners (the 2011 season was almost locked out) and perhaps most importantly, concussions.
Brain injuries in relation to football are drawing more and more attention by the day, not because there are measures in place to prevent them, but because they are becoming more and more prevalent.
One issue hit close to home when previous Stony Brook wide receiver, Adrian Coxson, got tangled up in his own concussion situation.
In the 44 games he played in a Seawolves uniform, Coxson recorded 86 catches for 1,425 yards and 11 touchdowns. This statline, along with his six-foot-one-inch, 215-pound frame, allowed him to sign as an undrafted free agent in May with the Green Bay Packers.
Nearly three months later, he was released by the team after suffering a blow to the head and being taken off the practice field in an ambulance.
Just three practices into his NFL career, he had a concussion.
This was not the common brain injuries other players get, but rather, a Grade 3 concussion. Coxson said the next hit “could possibly kill me, or be life-damaging.”
Think about playing a game you love that could also put your life in danger. There is no amount of money you could pay me to play something that could ultimately kill me.
So, is Goodell handling concussion situations like Coxson’s properly?
To answer this, one should consider the NFL’s lawsuit settlement with its Players Association that was finalized on April 22, 2015. The conditions of this settlement are simple: baseline exams for all retired players, monetary awards for diagnoses of numerous brain diseases to the tune of $765 million and education of its current and future players on how to avoid such diseases.
In Goodell’s mind, this is it. The settlement has been finalized, so everybody can go back to doing their jobs and moving forward with their lives.
Hold on a second. The game of football is still being played, which means there are bound to be more concussions—and there have been many more. There have been 25 concussions already in the 2015-16 NFL season, according to a Frontline report.
Earth to the Commissioner’s Office: This problem is not going away after one settlement.
There are some factors that are inevitable. Players have gotten and probably will continue to get bigger, faster and stronger. This leads to the collisions becoming more violent and injuries becoming worse.
The problem here is the NFL’s refusing to use the medical technology that has been developed for this very issue.
According to a TIME article, wearing a Riddell Revolution helmet produced a 54 percent lower risk of concussion-like symptoms than wearing the Riddell VSR4 helmet.
Sweet, so all the NFL has to do is strike up a deal with Riddell to produce those helmets, right?
Well, the NFL ended its contract with Riddell in 2013. Nicely done, Roger.
Players can now wear any helmet they choose, so channel your inner athlete for a second. Are you going to wear the lighter helmet that can help you run a little faster, or are you going to choose the heavier helmet that can bring down your performance but hey, you stay safe?
Sorry, but to the athletes, staying safe does not give you that big contract offer or those giant endorsement deals.
Here is one solution for the NFL: Strike up that deal with Riddell again, because they seem to be the ones making the best advances in helping with concussions.
Would you let your eager seven-year-old kid play football and dream of playing for the NFL? Sure. But with a neglective commissioner at the helm and no real measures being taken to slow down the pace of concussions? Probably not.
Your turn, Roger. How are you going to address this? The problem is far from solved.