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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Aaron Rodgers on Concussions in the NFL

Thanks to the Bob Wolfley and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, link to their piece follows, 

Packers' Rodgers: 'There's not much more you can do to make (football) safe'

Last weekend during a panel discussion with four other quarterbacks who have been Super Bowl MVPs, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers addressed the topic of providing for the long-term health of players.
In his remarks he said the helmet he now wears, compared to the one he wore when he started in the league in 2005, has prevented him from "a couple" of concussions, including one against the New York Giants in a playoff game last season.
Concern about the effects repeated concussions can have on players later in life has prompted some prominent former players - broadcaster and Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw being the latest - to say that they would not let their own kids play football.
Broadcaster Bob Costas moderated a panel discussion about the issue of concussions with the players, posing the question: "What can be done to make the game reasonably safe without changing its basic nature and without altering the sport that is clearly America's most popular?"
During the 2010 season, Rodgers missed a game against New England on Dec. 19 after suffering a concussion Dec. 12 when he was tackled in a game against the Detroit Lions (left).
"It's a difficult topic," Rodgers said, according to the San Jose Mercury News, which covered the event. "But I know the risks I'm taking, stepping onto the field. I've had a couple of head injuries. I talked to Steve (Young) about the second one because I know he dealt with similar things.
"It does start to bring your own mortality to the forefront in your mind, thinking about what your post-career will look like," Rodgers said. "That being said, there's not a whole lot more we can do. The helmet I started my career with in 2005 is no longer allowed because the safety requirements on those helmets is so high now. I feel confident the helmet I'm wearing has kept me from a couple concussions in the last year, especially one hit in particular I took in the Giants' playoff game."
Rodgers said Commissioner Roger Goodell has "done a good job of making guys who take cheap shots or shots above the neck or below the knee intentionally to injure people, he's fining those guys and suspending them for games."
At least twice during his remarks Rodgers referred to the issue as a "difficult topic" for the league.
"I think our league needs to continue to realize the impact we can have on setting the standard for the kids who are wanting to play," Rodgers said. "Having said that, it's a collision sport, and you have to realize that going in. Guys are bigger, stronger and faster every year. But there's not much more you can do to make it safe.
"It's just in this era, as opposed to when the three of you (Montana, Young, Plunkett) played, every injury is highlighted more," Rodgers said. "Every little ding to the head is labeled as a concussion."
Rodgers mentioned the challenge of getting back on the field once it has been determined a player has had a concussion.
"The protocol for concussions cannot be any more difficult to get back on the field," Rodgers said. "And I don't know if you've had this, Tom (Brady), but it is incredible the process and the tests you have to go through to get back on the field. So something is being done. It's unfortunate that we've had to go through some years of learning what those steps look like, but I don't think there's a whole lot more that can be done."
Young said the league is aiming to eliminate "launching hits." 
But Young did not go so far as Bradshaw did last week, or former players like Kurt Warner or Bart Scott, who have said recently  they would not let their own kids play football.
"The game is dangerous to the body," Young said. "Well-coached and well-protected, I think it's a great game. And truth is, if my boys wanted to play and I thought they were well-coached and well-protected, then I think there are things that football teaches that are not able to be learned in some places. It's one of the great team games in the history of team games."

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