OT: Football and Head Injuries: Nothing Has Changed.

Submitted by stephenrjking on September 9th, 2016 at 12:05 AM

The NFL opener was a good game.

But I'm having trouble enjoying it. Because Cam Newton was hit in the head multiple times in this game. 

It wasn't penalized until the last, worst offense.

Newton never missed a single play.

Cam Newton remains in the game after taking blow to the skull: pic.twitter.com/1wDUXWisCG

— Deadspin (@Deadspin) September 9, 2016


Also don't forget this hit earlier, where the guy jumped to try to hit Cam with his helmet https://t.co/gj20cBK9Wc

— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) September 9, 2016


Penalty yards assessed = how much the NFL actually cares about player safety. https://t.co/YjZAcY0Bxg

— Matt Hinton (@MattRHinton) September 9, 2016


The NFL has a concussion protocol unless it’s an important moment

— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) September 9, 2016

All the talk about head injuries the past few years. Nothing has changed.

Why do I care? I'm not a Panthers or Broncos fan, I prefer college to the NFL, etc.

But I like football. And head injuries are a serious, serious safety issue in the sport. They could be the death of it. They certainly have affected players. The culture of the sport needs to change--leading with the head, the way Broncos players did several times tonight, should never happen. 

And guys that get hit that hard should not be in the game. Even if it's a one-point game with two minutes to go.

Nothing has changed.



September 9th, 2016 at 12:10 AM ^

Get rid of shoulder pads and helmets and the game will be safer from the lens of long term disabilities.  Sacrifice some possible ankles, knees, ligaments for the sake of the brain, face, skull.  


September 9th, 2016 at 1:47 AM ^

I feel like people are in la la land with this stuff.  These are dudes who are already obviously willing to risk their long term health for the game.  Do these guys really think that defenders are going to take it easy with the game on the line just because they're not wearing a helmet or shoulder pads?

Plus, the very old data vastly underestimate the number of severe injuries and deaths that would happen now, since players are much larger and faster than they were in the pre-helmet era.

Mr Miggle

September 9th, 2016 at 7:32 AM ^

Superficially, yes. There is tackling and a funny shaped ball and it's played on a similar field.

But rugby is not a collision sport. Its nature is different since players get rid of the ball voluntarily rather than have defenders trying to force fumbles. There's no equivalent of a stationary QB taking hits from charging 300 lb linemen after throwing a pass. No equivalent to a DB lining up a receiver going up the middle catching a high pass. There is no blocking either. That alone makes a huge difference.

The playing rules are what make rugby much safer for the players' heads, not their lack of equipment.


L'Carpetron Do…

September 9th, 2016 at 9:21 AM ^

Well put.  Also - you can only throw the ball backwards so there are no brutal downfield collisions like there are on forward pass plays in football.  This can happen occasionally on kicks in rugby, but that is fairly rare.  And you're right - there's no blocking in rugby -  so  the only guy getting hit is the guy with the ball, with some contact occurring on a ruck/maul.  

But at the same time, I think rugby players would become a lot more reckless if they were outfitted with pads and a helmet...


September 9th, 2016 at 10:38 AM ^

And, at least given some limited data, rugby isn't really any safer. I looked at this stuff a while ago and from what I've seen, the [limited] research suggests that concussion rates are higher in rugby than in football.

Rugby: 3.8 per 1000 athlete exposures (Marshall and Spencer 2001)

Football: .47 per 1000 athlete exposures (Gessel, et al 2007)

Overall: .23 per 1000 athlete exposures (Gessel, et al. 2007)

One athlete exposure is participating in a practice or competition, and this is all for US high school athletes.


September 9th, 2016 at 1:13 PM ^

and I don't hear about those players dying. Removing the helmet would actually make the game safer as guys would not use it as a weapon.They would be forced to tackle with their shoulders and arms rather then shooting into each other like missles.  Maybe a soft type helmet for some protection, but nothing to use as a weapon.


September 9th, 2016 at 10:00 AM ^

The advice should be, "parents read all you can, and then decide if you think the risk outweighs the reward." Not to mention your other comnent, "every game, x number of players suffer irreversible head trauma." Another ludicrous and unsubstantiated claim.

When you have one of the two prime authors of the brain research that the recent film Concussion was based upon saying specifically that his sons play football right now, this is subtantiation for my point that you are way over-reacting. 

Mr Miggle

September 9th, 2016 at 7:08 AM ^

Think about all of the impacts to the head that have nothing to do with leading with it. Any hard fall where you land on the back of your head, for example. Knees to the head in a pile or shots like Rudock took last year when he was going down become far more dangerous. Any inadvertent helmet to helmet collision becomes skull to skull.

It's like saying riding a motorcycle with a helmet is safer because it makes the riders more careful, (because it's more dangerous), ignoring that many of the collisions were unavoidable for the riders.


Bo Glue

September 9th, 2016 at 9:30 AM ^

to draw reasonable conclusions from. Sure, you can say the fatality rate among helmet-less riders has doubled, but what if the number of riders without helmets increased ten-fold? They don't make any mention of how lifting the ban on helmetless riding affected the number of helmetless riders. Ostensibly, it should have been near zero in the first place before the ban was lifted, so an increase of more than 2x doesn't seem unreasonable.


September 9th, 2016 at 10:30 AM ^

But act like it's not there.  A sensor would be a trivial add-on to the cost of a modern helmet.  If you lead with your head, it'll create impact vibrations that will differ from controlled deceleration of a form tackle.  The whole thing is embedded in the helmet material itself; you can't tamper with it without destroying the helmet.  Have an LED go green to red that resets in six hours.  Yes, that means if you hit with your head, you're out of the game.  If the light's off (broken sensor, dead battery or tampering), you're out of the game.  These rules are to protect the defender as much as the target, after all.

But that would take guts, and the underlying problem is that the leagues just don't care.  Because the root of the matter is, we wouldn't even need such a device if they just enforced the existing rules, and the device wouldn't make a damn difference anyway because they're not enforcing the damn rules.

Any engineer can tell you, no amount of technology can make up for a lack of accountability.  Any policymaker can tell you, no rule can make up for corruption.


September 9th, 2016 at 12:14 AM ^

But the tv announcers said the nfl has done a lot and cares about these players (when Denver's Marshall went out).
They also said it isn't the independent doctor who makes the final call but the team doctor which made me lose my shit at work asking "what's the fucking point of the independent guy when it's the team's call at the end of the day?"

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


September 9th, 2016 at 12:19 AM ^

In my opinion I'm not sure there's a whole lot left to be done.  You can't take the potential of injuries out of an inherently violent game.  You can punish the act after the fact but its not going to stop the next one from happening.  At this point these guys know the risks.  There is no more hiding it by the NFL and the players can no onger say the risks were unknown.  

Stringer Bell

September 9th, 2016 at 12:29 AM ^

There are definitely things that can be done.  I think there needs to be a rule that wrapping up is required.  Maybe getting rid of some pads would cause players to be less careless with how they use their bodies.


Honestly, just watch a rugby match.  Those guys play with no pads or helmets, players are required to actually wrap up and take players down as opposed to just launching themselves head-first.  That's a violent, physical game that doesn't have nearly the injury problem that football has.  If rule changes are going to be instituted, then football needs to take some pages out of rugby's book IMO.


September 9th, 2016 at 9:35 AM ^

You can't compare rugby to American Football.  In rugby the team possessing the ball must be behind the ball, so any tackling from the other team is over a very short distance and there are no opportunities for blindside hits.  There aren't the same opportunities for high speed high impact collisions in rugby like in American football.  You would NEVER see anything close to as violent as a defensive back taking out a prone receiver catching a ball over the middle in rugby.


September 9th, 2016 at 12:35 AM ^

Dude, look at those defenders. Neither one of them has their arms out even attempting make a real tackle. They're both leading with their head. The first one at least looks like he's trying to get his shoulder in there and Cam is coming down so I don't really blame the guy for anything dirty, but the 2nd one is horrible. Absolutely launching directly at Cam's helmet with his own.


September 9th, 2016 at 12:56 AM ^

I understand that.  But implementing a new rule isn't going to stop acts like that from happening, its simply going to impose a penalty for doing the act.  An act, I might add, that is already illegal and was penalized.  You can't make an illegal act more illegal.  That would be like Congress passing a law that states you can't murder someone on a Wednesday.  Well, there's already a law against murder so you can't make murder more illegal.  

My point is that you can't state as the OP does that "nothing has changed".  There is acknowledgemnt from both the NFL and NFLPA of the dangers of playing this game.  30 years ago that didn't exist.  I would argue that the acknowledgement of that fact changes everything.

Santa Clause

September 9th, 2016 at 12:27 AM ^

Head injuries wouldn't be the death of football, even if the NFL didn't do anything to stop them. People would still watch, players would still want to make millions of dollars to play a game, and advertisers would still shell out cash. It's sad but true.

Mr. Yost

September 9th, 2016 at 12:40 AM ^

The mindset of the audience will begin to accept it in the way people accept UFC.

There will still be plenty of money to go around, the NFL is making more of it now than ever before.

It's gross, but it's true.

You'll have more and more people say "my kids will never play football" like myself, but there are still plenty of other kids who will. Especially from the poorer or rougher areas of the country.

That being said, there is NO reason not to do more now and make the game safer - especially at the NFL level where everyone is bigger/stronger/faster AND where everyone is watching.

I bet the TV rating tonight was HUGE.


September 9th, 2016 at 12:57 AM ^

While there will be plenty of parents who will disallow their kids' participation in football, so long as it's a sport that generates a lot of income for those who make it professionally, it can sustain itself as is. A major reason why is that it's a "way out" for kids in underserved communities.

Mr. Yost is also correct that there's no reason why more can't be done about this, especially at the professional level. 


September 9th, 2016 at 1:38 AM ^

That's a valid point, but there are some important considerations. I'm not sure how many Mgobloggers watch Adam Ruins Everything on TruTv, but he recently aired an interesting episode about football:



Among some of the crazy facts are that 78% of NFL players have nothing only 2 years after retiring. In players who donated their brains for research, 96% showed signs of CTE. Even Mike Ditka indicated he wouldn't have played if he knew the risks. As the show noted, boxing used to be one of the most popular sports. If the status quo remains, football might be around, but like boxing, the quality could diminish

Apparently Adrian Peterson (who got in trouble for hitting one of his kids) said he wouldn't let his son play football.

I love football, but it's hard to ignore the harm that is inflicted upon the players, and if former players and parents continue to stop their kids from playing, the on-the-field product will suffer.