NFL Hall of Famer “Iron Mike” Ditka likes to tell the story about his playing days as a running back way back in the 1950’s.  Ditka dislocated his shoulder on one brutal tackle and went to the sidelines in obvious pain.

The trainer got him on the ground, put his foot on Ditka’s shoulder and yanked the arm back into place, which must have been excruciatingly painful.  Ditka got up, shook it off and the coach sent him back in on the next play.

NFL Injuries Used To Be Their Own Sport

That’s the way the NFL was back in the old days.  The networks even ran special clips and called them “bell ringers” or something like that.  The clips consisted of only the most intense and brutal hits that one football player could put on another.  The more helmet to helmet, the better, and the harder, the better.  Brass bands would play, and the fans would cheer.  Today, even hardened sports fans would cringe at these films.

But there was no such thing as a concussion protocols back in those days.  In fact, a player was better off not talking too much about his concussion symptoms.  You couldn’t see them or measure them – not like a broken arm that you could see and fix.  Concussion symptoms often have the victim wondering if he is hurt, or if he is going nuts.

Players with a concussion are often hesitant to speak up about how they feel, even if they are experiencing the world more as a spectator than a participant.  So, they are sent back into the game, as they are, risking further injury and probably achieving substandard performances for the team.

The NFL Takes A Stab At Stopping Serious Injuries

These days, the NFL has issued a nine-page set of guidelines on just what and how a player’s injury, no matter the degree, must be reported and handled.  This information is then shared with the opposing team, and the sports journalist on TV and radio to inform to the general public.  The idea is that everyone should be aware of any significant injuries to a player that could possibly affect the outcome of the game.

These reports are divided into three categories: practice reports, game status report and in game injury report.   Failure to comply with this practice of sharing injury information can result in heavy fines to the teams and even the loss draft picks as determined by the NFL Commissioners office and Commissioner Roger Goodell.

This information is especially useful to two groups of people.  First to the opposing team and the coaches planning for the next big game.  The other to the wagering industry.  Both the bettors and the folks who take their wagers.  An injury to a key player can dramatically change the odds and the totals on a given game.  A lot of money could be involved and while the NFL does not officially support wagering on professional football games, they certainly recognize its existence and give tacit approval.

The League Is Determined To Stop Concussions

Concussion protocols have been much in the sporting news these days and everyone from medical doctors to psychiatrists to ex-players have weighed in with opinions about how concussions can be prevented and how to deal with them when they occur.

Much research has gone into the development of helmets that will reduce the impact on the head and neck areas in case of a collision on the field.  There are new and stricter rules about just how contact should be initiated with head to head contact banned all together and leading contact with a helmet lowered can even result in a player being disqualified from the game and sent to the locker room for the remainder of the contest.

The situation is getting better.  These days everyone is aware of just how devastating a bad concussion can be on a player and serious protocols are now in place supervised by medical personnel on the sidelines to keep the players safe and sound to play another day.