What's been done

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New return-to-play standards

Last year, Commissioner Roger Goodell required a player who suffers a concussion to be cleared by an outside neurologist before participating in another game or practice. Goodell also notified teams that a player no longer could return to a game or a practice if he was showing any symptoms of a concussion.

New medical leadership

In March, the league named Richard Ellenbogen and Hunt Batjer co-chairmen of its head, neck and spine medical committee. In a November memo, Goodell informed teams that he had accepted the resignations of Ira Casson and David Viano as co-chairmen of what was then called the mild traumatic brain injury committee.

New rules

Protections have been extended for "defenseless" players during games. A runner whose forward progress has been stopped and a receiver who has made a catch but hasn't yet gathered himself cannot be hit in the head by an opponent's head, shoulder or forearm. Another new rule ends any play immediately when a ballcarrier loses his helmet.


The league produced a public service announcement about concussion treatment and management, and required representatives of each team to attend a medical conference on brain injuries.

What's being considered

Practice restrictions

The league and union are discussing a reduction in the number of offseason practices and restrictions on hitting in practices during training camp and the regular season. The union wants a 20 to 25 percent decrease in the number of blows to the head absorbed by players during practices.

Helmet improvements

The league and union are trying to determine which helmets perform best in on-field collisions and hope to develop new helmet technology. On Friday, the results of one helmet test were released.

Eliminating the three-point stance

Goodell has raised the idea of requiring linemen to stand upright at the line of scrimmage to decrease the force of helmet-to-helmet blows after the snap.

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