The National Football League (NFL) has released its official, new poster, which clearly lists symptoms of concussion and potential long-term effects. In one section, the poster says that traumatic brain injury (TBI) can lead to “…problems with memory and communication, personality changes, as well as depression and the early onset of dementia.” This is the most honest and blunt statement of the hazards of football by the NFL since, well…ever.
“That poster is shocking,” said Domonique Foxworth, a cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens. “It gives people facts before they take risks. But it’s not exactly a new revelation.”
Matt Birk, the Ravens’ center, said: “To put it out there in writing in locker rooms, at least it’s publicly acknowledging that, ‘Hey, this is real.’ There’s risks in everything you do, and this one is real. You can’t sweep it under the rug anymore.”
On the poster (which may or may not be different from what is said on the field), players are told that “playing through” a concussion could cause permanent brain damage. The advice is to report symptoms, get checked out by medical staff, and then take time to recover.
Although this is a great and long over-due first step, the New York Times reports that a lawyer for the NFL wrote a memo discrediting connections between football head trauma and long-term cognitive decline. The article continues:
The letter, obtained by The New York Times, explained, “We can point to the current state of uncertainty in scientific and medical understanding” on the subject to deny players’ claims that their neurological impairments are related to football.
Sadly, that adds credence to the football league’s “chew ’em up and spit ’em out” reputation when it comes to players’ health. The problem is that if a player wrecks his knee, he loses his job…but if he wrecks his brain, he could lose his memory, his family, his entire sense of self. We’re glad to see that the posters provide solid medical information. Maybe, eventually, the message will sink in. The next step is to make sure players are respected for taking it slow after concussion.
To read the full New York Times story, click here: NFL Concussion Poster