Marvin Lewis does not think the new agreement on concussion rules reached by the NFL and NFLPA last month will adversely affect the Cincinnati Bengals. Going forward, teams that violate the NFL's concussion protocol can be fined from anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000 and can even lose draft picks. But Lewis argued that the Bengals have been ahead of the curve on concussion protocol ever since he took over as coach in 2003.
However, the results of a study done at Boston University last year continue to shock and disturb fans of football. In that study, researchers found CTE in 96% of the former NFL players examined. So what is to be done?
If the new penalties do not drastically change the culture of concussions, there remain essentially three options: 1. continue to make minor tweaks to the game and increase concussion awareness; 2. make major changes to the game; 3. ultimately eliminate the game of football.
The third option is unlikely simply because of the money involved and the popularity of the sport. Furthermore, we are just now seeing concussion education discussed at a mainstream level, meaning, there are probably a lot of other options that have yet to be discovered. For instance, the idea of eliminating kickoffs has been discussed. And just recently we saw the NFL change the rulebook two months after Ryan Shazier's vicious helmet-to-helmet blow on Giovani Bernard in last year's playoff game between the Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers. It was ruled legal at the time because "there were angles involved." But the NFL soon realized such laughable applications of the rulebook will soon enough get them in trouble. Lastly, there is much that can be done in terms of tackling techniques. The Seattle Seahawks have emphasized tackling the "strike zone," or, the area below the neck and above the knees, as well as shoulder tackling, a technique used in rugby.
In the following podcast, Rebecca Toback and podcaster Chris Axmann join me and Dr. Hodgie E. Smodgie to discuss the problem the NFL faces and to what extent it is fixable.
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