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Concussions in Collegiate and Professional Football: Who Has Responsibility to Protect Players?

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Concussions in Collegiate and Professional Football: Who Has Responsibility to Protect Players?

When we think of football its always something we enjoy every Sunday with our family and friends. Getting to look forward to it every weekend cause our favorite team is going to play, but we don’t realize what it takes to participate in football and all the risks it entails? Football concussion injuries have spiked through the roof and have been so controversial these recent years. While many organizations are trying to reduce the severity of concussions many athletes have become more active to reform their injuries whether it’s in the NFL or down to the football level.

Who is responsible to determine when a player should stop playing? Is it the responsibility of the player, the team, the team coach, the team doctor, an outside medical group, a third party?

When it comes to whether or not whose responsible to determine when a player should stop playing is a difficult question, athletes presumed that the commitment to their and game was much more crucial than their safety.  and, consequently, instead of letting down the squad, coaches, college, and parents, they performed with a concussion. In many other cases,

concussion symptoms went away within two weeks, but symptoms remained for individuals and last weeks, months, or even many years later. The most disturbing thing is that the study identified an athletics organization that denied self-reporting concussion.

Which lead to a safety conference that was co-sponsored by the NCAA and the College Athletic Trainers Society in College Football. The main purpose of this conference was to bring together

a unique group of professionals, whose common interest are to improve the safety of college football and any other sport. The agenda included three primary points: private medical care in college sports, diagnosis and management for concussions, and contact in the training of football. The concussion policy of the NCAA only required schools to receive

written acknowledgments from athletes that they had received concussion education and had to report symptoms to the staff.  The perceptions of coaches of concussions and how players viewed

the perceptions of their coaches seemed to play a major role in whether players reported the

symptoms of concussion. Players like offensive linemen or running backs, who have taken

the most hits throughout the season, may also have believed these symptoms were part of their daily routine. Once these symptoms were to become the norm for university level players,

they would probably transfer over into their NFL professional careers.

What are the ramifications of the decisions for player disqualification?

The ramification of the decisions for the player’s disqualification is that they may develop serious brain damage. Being that if a concussion goes under the radar it can be a severe consequence in the future. Many football players who developed brain trauma from so many forceful hits developed CTE and dementia.

Should the findings from the NCAA and NFL be applied to Pee-Wee football? e.g. players younger than 18?

I do believe that the NCAA and NFL findings should be applied to the to all sports especially Pee Wee Football. This is very important because since kids are still very young the brain still hasn’t been fully developed. With football being such a hard impact playing sport, there is reason to believe that the brain can be affected at a young age. When there is repetitive forceful trauma to the brain it does develop over time and since pee wee isn’t like a professional sport there should be considerations.


What is the ethical framework that you feel should be applied to this case?

A Framework for executing strategy would be applied.

An organization for each academic facility with managers capable of recognize when an athlete has a concussion and strategize if an athlete has a concussion through a process. Being able to develop any resources and organizational capabilities required to strategize if and when an athlete gets a concussion. Creating a prime strategy that is supportive organizational structure and simply establish rules that take concussion more serious.

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The NFL established a concussion management protocol that was similar to the NCAA’s plan that included pre-season education, physical assessments, and baseline neuropsychological testing. The NFL’s practice or game day management protocol was different from that of the NCAA. A summary of NFL concussion protocol follows:

Player with sign or symptoms of Concussion-Player with concussion signs has been removed from the field and evaluated by the medical team. The evaluation was placed in the medical record of the player and compared to his baseline. It was forbidden to return to practice on the same day or play with a diagnosed concussion.

Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant (UNC). During the games, teams had an independent doctor who had experience in treating head injuries on the sidelines.

Booth ATC (certified athletic trainer). For both teams in the stadium booth, an ATC with access to multiple view video and replay was used as a spotter. Communication existed between the spotter and the medical staff of the teams to allow the ATC to report plays that seemed to have               possible injuries. Plays could also be reviewed by the sideline medical staff to assess potential               injury.

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Madden Rule. A player diagnosed with a concussion was removed from the field on a game day and medical staff observed in the locker room. The Madden rule was for athletes to recover without disturbance along with medical staff. Until cleared, a player diagnosed with a concussion was not allowed to speak to the press.


NFL Sideline Concussion Assessment. A player diagnosed with a concussion would perform the NFL Sideline Concussion Assessment on the day of injury. Before the player goes home, the assessment would be repeated.

Additional Triggers for Medical Evaluation. If an athlete had a hard impact or a concern was brought up by another player, or by the coach or any team manager, the team physician immediately would remove the player from the field for evaluation. If the doctor determined that the player had no concussion, then the video would be evaluated before the player could enter the game. The entire NFL concussion protocol would be performed if there were any doubt.

Additional Best Practices.  Serial concussion evaluations have been suggested because for hours concussive injuries may not be evident. If any doubt occurred, the player is removed from play or practice. Take-home information and follow-up instructions were given to a player with concussion.

What are the ethical implications of the NFL in not using all of the reported concussions from 1996 – 2001?

The ethical implication of not using all the reported concussions from the years 1996-2001 was huge because evidences disputed that football led to higher risk brain injuries. Being reported that so many football injuries were occurring and only seen as a minor issue. In that time period, the return to play guidelines were applied when the Academy of Neurology they declared that repetitive concussions lead to serious brain damage. Being that football is such a well-known sport not many athletes took into consideration that it would be long time brain trauma.

Are there any differences in the subsequent NFL studies? Are the differences driven by financial, legal, or ethical standards?

When looking at the NFL studies there isn’t much of a difference. The football head injuries still occur up to now. Since recent studies showed that the head trauma were becoming more and more serious schools started implementing the “no full contact practices’’ to reduce concussions. Helmet technology also was making a difference because Riddell was creating a new helmet to prevent concussion and they were made to pass the standard requirements.

Are the manufacturers of safety equipment responsible for any injuries sustained by players?

The manufactures over the past years have developed safety equipment for players and many believed it was an improvement. Although some athlete believe otherwise and think that the safety equipment is encouraging the athletes to have more forceful hits. Manufactures can and should create safety equipment but can be responsible for any injuries sustained by the athletes. Although, the manufactures goal is to reduce the number of injuries it cannot prevent head or neck injuries of a player while playing football. A new and revolutionary VICIS Zero1 football helmet was

launched in collaboration with the University Of Washington after ten million was funded and took about 2 years to create. It was created to reduce the amount of concussions that were occurring and very beneficial to the players. Stated in the book, “Hines ward believes players use their helmet like a weapon, giving them more ability to deliver a big hit, rather than protecting players from receiving a big hit. If players did not wear helmets, they would play less recklessly and, therefore, prevent head shots from opposing players. However, skull fractures would likely increase (even if concussions decreased) from the removal of helmets from football players, which would not increase the overall safety of the game”. Although Hines made a very good point, the question would be if football would prohibit helmets.

Are financial settlements ethical?


Financial settlements are ethical because not only do they payout the athletes and retired athletes many lawsuits were placed because so many athletes were effective by the brain damage and illness developed. With all the education and information, we know now about football and the brain damage that is developed many people are making better life choices. With so many retired athletes living in a period where concussion were a minor issue are now face many brain damages and dementia. They need the settlements for expenses and what I mean by expensive is lawyer fees from the lawsuits, medical fees and medical assistance fees because of the diseases of concussions. The NFL created this billion-dollar settlement to compensate the athletes and it is very ethical for those effected.


         Fainaru-Wada, M(2017) Lawyers, others vie for pieces of NFL concussion settlement. ESPN


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