Since the first leather helmet collided with another, I am sure players in the NFL have dealt with concussions. Some players went on and played knowing something was wrong and others played not realizing the damage that was done. Few have sat out of a game. Until recently.
It seems 2009 has turned into the year of Compassion for the NFL in regards to players and concussions. Not that the NFL has disregarded player safety, but the focus on a players mental capacity has not been present. As players have knocked their heads for many years, this year the NFL is taking steps to understand the concussion and educate the player on the long term effects.
This last week we saw two Hall of fame bound quarterbacks sit out of games. Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals and Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both quarterbacks have been the victim of multiple concussions. And it seems both players struggled this past week with the decision to play or not. The heart of a player tells him he needs to play. However, the part of his body that was rung tries to remind him that he needs to sit out. As his heart and mind struggle over what to do, the NFL is wanting to provide players with valuable information to help make the decision easier.
Along with that, the NFL is requiring doctors to be on the sidelines to evaluate a player when he has received a hard hit to the head. While the fans are looking for a great football game, the NFL is keeping the players safety in the forefront.
In regards to Roethlisberger, the numbers show it would have been a wise decision to take another week off. After returning soon after a concussion in 2006, he threw four interceptions -- two returned for touchdowns -- during a 20-13 loss to Oakland in 2006. During that game, instead of being the quarterback making the plays, he ducked or fell to the ground in anticipation of the sack.
As the NFL gains yards in the realm of concussions, it will be the players responsiblity to listen to the advice. One piece of advice given already, and not received by the Steelers quarterback is to wear a helmet that better protects the head. And with the evidence of tests from former players who received multiple concussions, that is advice well given!
With the effects of multiple concussions still being chronicled by doctors among former NFL players, players need to side on the side of safety. However, when the opportunity is in front of them to earn the money available by being a profesional player, it is difficult to think of life after the NFL.