Should the NFL Force Players to Retire with a Certain Number of Concussions?

Jamal CollierAnalyst IIINovember 12, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 11: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears is hit by Kareem Jackson #25 of the Houston Texans at Soldier Field on November 11, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Texans defeated the Bears 13-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

According to ESPN NFC North Blogger Kevin Seifert, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler may have just suffered his sixth football-related concussion on Sunday night against the Houston Texans. The same injury accounts for his third NFL concussion, according to Seifert.

That sort of volume of head injuries causes concern beyond who is Cutler’s backup and whether he’s a capable quarterback.

If the NFL’s first order of business in terms of player health and safety is to limit concussions and address them as carefully as possible, it must consider limiting a player’s number of concussions before insisting that he hang up his cleats.

Injuries to extremities can force players away from the game before they’re ready because they can’t physically produce like they used to. Excessive head injuries will eventually do the same thing—we just may not know until it’s enough damage to cause long-term harm.

The argument against a career concussion protocol likely revolves around the apparent gradation of concussion severity. Every player—and, further, every injury—is different.

Nevertheless, the NFL is facing litigation from former players regarding their brain injuries suffered while playing in the league. It would be wise for the league’s image to keep its current and future players from feeling the effects of multiple concussions, especially those which may occur in a short amount of time.

While it’s certainly a sad story of an electrifying career derailed by concussion symptoms, the Detroit Lions’ guarding of running back Jahvid Best seems to be the safer way to go about handling head injuries. Of course, each subsequent concussion case doesn’t have to be as extreme—Best has suffered multiple concussions.

He hasn’t played this season or been concussed in over a year, but Detroit has shut him down for 2012.

If the NFL elects to tie documented concussions to retirement, the quantity of concussions that should decide whether a player needs to retire (or take extended absences from the game) should be determined by independent doctors.

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