NFL Brain Injuries: Six Ways to Keep Players Safe

Brian DiTullioSenior Writer IAugust 17, 2010

NFL Brain Injuries: Six Ways to Keep Players Safe

0 of 6

    12 Nov 2000:  Quarterback Troy Aikman #8 of the Dallas Cowboys hands off  to running back Emmitt Smith #22 during Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Squire/ALLSPORT
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman had a Hall-of-Fame career, but he retired early due to the lingering effects of multiple concussions.

    Over the past several years, Aikman has just been one of many football players whose careers have been re-examined as more and more facts about the effects of multiple concussions come to light.

    NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell put together a committee to examine the issue and come up with ways to prevent concussions from happening.

    As everyone knows, hard-hitting is part of the game, and eliminating the potential for concussions is impossible as long as guys are tackling each other at full speed.

    But there are a few things the league can do, and here are some suggestions.

Redesign the Helmet

1 of 6

    ORCHARD PARK - NOVEMBER 17:  A general view of a Cleveland Browns helmet taken during the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 17, 2008 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    The football helmet constantly is being looked at, and almost every year sees some kind of minor modification.

    The league needs to find a helmet design that is lightweight, yet still protects the player's skull and brain from sudden, vicious hits that cause the brain to rattle around in there.

    This is the best solution, and time and technology may help reduce concussions during play significantly.

Keep Enforcing the Rules

2 of 6

    BALTIMORE - SEPTEMBER 27:  Head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens speaks to the referree during the game against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on September 27, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Browns 34-3. (Photo b
    Larry French/Getty Images

    The NFL has put several rules in the place to prevent blows to the head, but that doesn't stop many players from using their helmet as a weapon.

    The NFL needs to stay on top of the players in these situations. Nobody likes refs who are flag-happy, but when it comes to somebody getting their clock cleaned to make the ESPN and NFL Network highlight reels, that flag needs to come out.

More Education

3 of 6

    DETROIT - JANUARY 26:  Detroit Lion players Cory Schlesinger and Jeff Backus visit a fifth grade classroom at the Malcolm X Academy on January 26, 2006 in Detroit, Michigan. PLAYERS INC celebrate the eleventh anniversary of the 'Stay Cool in School' local
    Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

    Players are macho guys, and they don't like to be told a headache is going to put them on the bench for the rest of the game.

    It's important to educate these guys from Pop Warner leagues and up that if they're hit in the head really good and are experiencing headaches, dizziness, etc., then they need to sit down.

    Interviews with several retired NFL players has highlighted the lasting and debilitating effects from multiple concussions, and the players today need to pay attention and not make the same mistakes previous generations made.

Crack Down on Coaches Who Are Living in the Past

4 of 6

    FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 12: Patrick Chung # 25 and Coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots talk during the preseason game against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium on August 12, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Ima
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    First, don't read anything more into the photo other than Bill Belichick was the first NFL head coach that popped into my head. Save the hatemail, you're not helping.

    There are some head coaches, at all levels of the game, who will put their players in danger just to win that game.

    While the culture of the NFL and head injuries has begun to change, there still are some old school holdouts who believe "getting your bell rung" is no reason to come out of the game for more than a few plays.

    Any NFL coach found encouraging a player to return to a game who is experiencing concussion-type symptoms needs to be disciplined immediately.

Get Quicker, Better Diagnosis

5 of 6

    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 16:  Quarterback Kurt Warner #13 of the Arizona Cardinals lies on the field as he is tended to by the medical staff and teammates after he took a hard hit in the first half against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Divisional Pla
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The NFL has put an independent neurologist on each team's sideline so players suffering from a concussion can be evaluated without the influence of the team.

    The NFL needs to go one step further by having the necessary medical equipment on-site. For a business that earns profits in the BILLIONS, having some sophisticated medical equipment in the stadiums shouldn't be that big of an issue.

    A sideline evaluation is good, but being able to go back to the locker room and run some real tests is the direction the NFL should be heading.

Take the Lead in Research

6 of 6

    RICMOND, CANADA - OCTOBER 21:  Research analyst Patrick Avon examines a test sample inside the anti-doping lab at the Olympic Oval October 21, 2009 in Richmond, Canada. The lab, which is located inside the Olympic Oval, will test over 2,000 samples during
    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    The NFL has partnered with Boston University brain researchers to help study the effects of multiple collisions on brain injuries and ways to prevent concussions from happening.

    What the NFL needs to do next is take the lead in demonstrating, developing, and perfecting new rules, equipment, and treatment.

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!