The NFL’s Head Splitting Concussion and CTE Crisis
The NFL is a dangerous collision sport. David Camarillo, a bioengineer studying severe head trauma, concussions, and CTE, found that “a single game of American football [has] a similar force to that of 62 car crashes.” NFL players were diagnosed with more concussions in 2017 than in any season since the league began sharing the data. It’s a disturbing trend since the medical community has verified a link between NFL collisions, concussions, and the development of CTE by current and ex players.
The studies are threatening the nation’s love affair with the NFL. Veteran players are vocalizing health concerns and putting pressure on the NFL to finally prioritize safety. The NFL is responding with more research and new rules, but their implementation has been met with confusion and anger. Even before the first week of this season is over, a new helmet rule impacted play on the field. Bengals S Shaun Williams was kicked out for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Colts QB Andrew Luck. The team from BodyLogic has published new insights regarding NFL concussions and CTE exclusively to First and Ten Sports. Here are some of the top line headlines.
There’s a Rule For That
It took the NFL several years to acknowledge the link between the sport and CTE. Bowing to public pressure, Commissioner Goodell and the Players Association adopted rules to mitigate hits. In 2012, the NFL approved changes to “defenseless player rule” to include players being blocked. The next season, the league outlawed using the crown of the helmet for both runners and tacklers. But in 2015 and 2016, in-game concussion surpassed 200. The higher number of incidents led to the adoption of this season’s new helmet rule. The rule reads, “it is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent.”
Defensive players are furious with all the yellow on the field. It’s almost impossible to tackle players who go low without lowering your own head. Players developed the habit from years of abusive coaching. But every instance of a player lowering their helmet to initiate contact could result in a penalty and an expulsion from the game.
Gs Taking High G-Forces
An average American will never experience G-forces of over 5.0 in their daily lives. G-forces above five only happen on a roller coaster ride. By comparison, Dolphins QB Matt Moore experienced an estimated G-force of 87.4g when Steelers’ linebacker Bud Dupree tackled him in 2017. Even the lowest figure in the chart 10.8, is higher than the Gs experienced during an F-16 fighter jet roll.
State of the Game
The NFL is at a watershed moment in its history. For decades, the league marketed big hits in its original programming and on highlight packages. Now they’re forced to play defense, take accountability for their years of negligence, and revise their rules.
The ultimate problem is you can’t legislate violence and the resulting concussions and CTE out of a collision sport. BodyLogic rightfully concluded, “the NFL is far from concussion-free and is unlikely to achieve that ideal soon, if at all.” The future of the sport will be a long-term cost-benefit analysis. Will the revenue generated the NFL outweigh public scrutiny and the costs of new helmet technology and rules? To date, the profits generated by the NFL outweigh the costs. But we could easily see a time when NFL outlaws tackling or robots are playing the sport.
To read the full BodyLogicMD report, read: https://www.bodylogicmd.com/visualizing-nfl-concussions