NFLPA Speaks out About Health and Safety Concerns

Tim KeeneyContributor IJanuary 31, 2013

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 31:  DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association, addresses the media at the NFL Players Association annual state of the union press conference in the media center on January 31, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Ravens will take on the San Francisco 49ers on February 3, 2013 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Just one week after it was revealed that Junior Seau's family would sue the NFL for long-term brain damage caused by concussions, the NFL Players Association spoke out about safety concerns in the league.

According to the Associated Press (via ESPN), NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and union president Dominique Foxworth addressed several issues during a press conference in New Orleans on Thursday:

Smith began by threatening to file a grievance if the NFL refuses to institute a system to verify the credentials of all medical personnel on the 32 teams. He mentioned three amendments the NFLPA wants to make to the new CBA, including the appointment of "a neutral chief safety officer who can hear appeals about acceptable levels of medical care."

The biggest problem here, of course, is in dealing with concussions, which are among the most dangerous injuries in all of sports. 

By having an "independent neurological consultant" on every sideline, as the union argues for, players would be at far less risk to dangerously re-enter a game with concussion symptoms. 

Oftentimes, personnel on the sidelines aren't able to fully assess a player's situation without being able to run the necessary tests, which aren't accessible on an NFL sideline. As a result, players are sent back into the game under dubious and vulnerable conditions.  

According to the union, it has proof to show that the players are concerned with the staff on the sideline:

At its media session Thursday, the union presented the results of an internal survey that it said showed a majority of players are not satisfied with the way their team manages injuries and that most do not trust their team's medical staff. The union would not say how many players participated, however.


Another issue DeMaurice Smith brought up was that of the officials lockout at the beginning of this season: "He called the NFL's lockout of its officials at the start of this season 'one of the most deliberate disregards of player safety that I think has occurred in the National Football League since our inception.'"

We are only 18 months removed from the NFL and the NFLPA coming to terms to end the league-wide lockout, but it's clear that the sides still remain at odds on several important details. 

When player safety is the issue, however, it's important that everything get worked out as soon as possible.