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Marvin Lewis shows naivety in commenting on concussions in NFL

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Marvin Lewis continues to show he's uninformed when it comes to concussions by making comments like "They’re making too much out of nothing" and "All of a sudden they didn’t become soft" and "It’s ridiculous how we keep doing things." With all due respect, it's actually not ridiculous at all.

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Members of the NFL officiating crew have been in attendance for the Bengals' Friday and Saturday training camp practices. The refs are in town to teach the players and coaches about some of the NFL's new rules and regulations for this season.

One such rule has to do with injuries on the field.

Each game will have an independent certified athletic trainer in the press box to monitor player safety -- such as unidentified concussions. The aim of adding the athletic trainers to the press box is to help identify players who look injured but do not receive the attention of their teammates, officials, coaches and team medical personnel.

The athletic trainers will be able to stop play for a medical reason, without the team's consent. In the event of a trainer calling a timeout, the player in question will have to miss at least one play while being evaluated.

Many believe the new rule was put into action after Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman likely had a concussion during the Super Bowl that went undiagnosed. He was examined after the incident occurred and supposedly passed the concussion protocol. But, he was back in the game so quickly that those who understand concussion testing and diagnosis know that no real concussion test was given. This was just another example of a player trying to play through a concussion during a big game. Something many athletes have admitted to doing, even Jeremy Hill acknowledges that.

Per the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Hill acknowledged that even when he was playing in high school a few short years ago, he might not have told anyone if he got dazed.

"It's the exact opposite now," he said. "You definitely tell somebody, you definitely try to get some help and you definitely get looked at. That's just what the league is coming to, is player safety, taking care of each other, and you'll see careers be elongated because of that."

Hill says players currently don't play through concussions, but it's simply not the case. This has been a topic heavily reported on. Such as herehere and here, where it says "More than half of high school athletes with concussions play despite their symptoms, and often their coaches aren't aware of the injury."

Though, maybe the Bengals are coming forward when their players have a concussion more than other teams, as the Bengals had more concussions on the team than any other NFL team in 2014. But, Marvin Lewis, a member of the NFL's competition committee doesn't seem to agree with the new rule and addition of athletic trainers to the press box (something that's basically common practice these days).

As Geoff Hobson reported, here's what Lewis had to say regarding the new rule:

"Guys are going to keep playing football. They’re making too much out of nothing. Guys have been playing football for a long time. All of a sudden they didn’t become soft," Lewis said. "The people have already done it. We’ve got job justification going on, big time."

"Guys are going to play football. I don’t know what staying in the game is. Guys are going to play football. If a guy has something where he needs to come out, he’s going to come out. It’s not going to change. Just because one person, one team doesn't do the job right, then we have to have all this other red tape and all that. That’s baloney. It’s ridiculous how we keep doing things. If everybody does what they’re supposed to do, we don’t have any issues."

Wow. Well, those are some strong words. But, is Lewis forgetting about what happens and what has happened when players play through concussions? They develop long-term memory issues, mood swings, depression and it can even lead them to committing suicide, among many other long-term symptoms.

This weekend, that issue is in the spotlight as Junior Seau who committed suicide and was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease typically caused by multiple hits to the head (such as concussions), is being enshrined in the Hall of Fame. It's also important to note that Seau was never actually diagnosed with a concussion. And not because he never had one, he certainly did. But he played through them like so many other athletes have done. And, they went ignored by his coaches and teammates because the culture in the NFL was such that that was the norm.

The culture may be changing now and more and more athletes are coming to see that if they want to remain healthy long-term, playing through a concussion isn't going to help their case. But, Lewis saying "all of a sudden they didn't become soft" is naive to say the least.

Concussions are a major issue for the NFL and they have nothing to do with being "soft". If you haven't been able to tell that by now, or haven't seen the news of the $1 billion settlement the NFL agreed to, it's simply a matter of being uninformed.

This isn't Lewis' first time making uninformed comments regarding concussions. Last October when Vontaze Burfict was going through the NFL's concussion protocol, Lewis said during a press conference, "I coached defenses and linebackers for a long time and concussions didn't linger. Now we have found that because of the media and things they seem to linger longer. There's a lot of attention paid to it. I don't know why they linger longer. I don't remember them lingering like they do now."

Lewis was largely criticized for his remarks. Bengals OT, Eric Winston was one of his critics. At the time, Winston was a free agent and not yet a player on the Bengals, though he was and still is the NFL Players Association president, making his comments relevant.

Winston took to Twitter saying:

As a disclaimer, I have done quite a bit of research on concussions and spent a year creating and working on a concussion education website, which you can see here. To say I strongly agree with everything Winston said in response to Lewis' 2014 comments on concussions is an understatement.

Concussions don't "linger longer" now. They're just being dealt with the way they should have been from the start, if we knew then what we know now. The symptoms like headaches, dizziness, inability to balance and not being able to focus, to name a few, aren't lingering longer now, they're just not being ignored like they were for decades before the research that we now have access to surfaced.

Ben Utecht, a former Bengals and Colts player who retired after concussions got the better of him would be able to attest to this. His post concussion syndrome has now led to him not remembering major life events such as his best friend's wedding. Utecht is now among the most outspoken concussion research and education advocates and has testified in court regarding how concussions have changed his life.

Concussions have caused far too many former NFL players to commit suicide, such as Seau, Terry Long, Andre Waters, Shane Dronett, Dave Duerson, Ray Easterling, Jovan Belcher and Paul Oliver. All of these former NFL players have been diagnosed with CTE, which can only be identified postmortem.

And it doesn't take making it to the NFL to have concussions ruin your life. Kosta Karageorge an Ohio State football player disappeared last December and it was discovered that he too committed suicide due to how concussions were affecting his brain and life. Before he died, he sent his mother a text message saying, concussions were affecting his mind and he hoped he wasn't an embarrassment.

These types of deaths can be stopped if we accept the harsh reality surrounding concussions in the NFL and make sure that when a concussion does occur, it's treated properly. Players need get the rest required to heal their brains following a concussion, before coming back to keep playing, even if it takes weeks or months to do so. And it can, take months or even years to heal from a concussion when you've already had a few.

When we stop calling players "soft" and realize that it's not "ridiculous how we keep doing things," it's actually to help the safety of players in the NFL, including athletes who are playing for coaches making these uninformed statements, we'll all be a lot better off.