NFL Hits Concussion Issue Head On

As part of the new standards, Goodell has mandated that every player in the league undergo neuropsychological testing in training camp to determine functional baseline measures for everyone in the NFL. Some of the other recommendations: Evaluation procedures used by different teams will be shared with the medical and training staffs of all franchises. Any decision about when a player can return to the field following treatment for concussion must be made by team medical personnel. Every player must wear his chin strap.

The league is also creating a "whistle blower system" in which anyone anonymously can report an incident in which a doctor is pressured into returning a player to the field, or in which a player is pressured to return. Several players have told that they are skeptical of a "whistle blower" arrangement, because they aren't comfortable that the NFL adequately can protect their confidentiality.

The Tuesday meeting here is not the first such conference for the NFL. There have been at least four other concussion-related conferences sponsored by the league and several that were convened by player agent Leigh Steinberg. What might set this one apart from the earlier conferences is the scope of the agenda, the expertise of the people involved, the inclusion of speakers with dissenting opinions from those of the NFL committee, and the perceived collective resolve to confront the issue.

Said Goodell: "We definitely want to be ahead of the curve here."

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer with

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