NFL concussion protocol does not go far enough to protect players

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a brain condition caused by repeated hits to the head. The rules and regulations of the National Football League (NFL) have tried to limit concussions and prevent CTE for the players. However, the NFL has been unsuccessful, as players continue to get concussions and are still put at risk of getting CTE. 

The NFL’s regulations, rules and actions surrounding CTE have been inadequate as seen with the situation of Dolphin’s quarterback Tua Tagolovoia and the NFL’s negligence towards the issue of CTE.

During a game against the Buffalo Bills, Tagovailoa was hurt and exhibited signs of a concussion. Despite his obvious head trauma, he continued to play. In the following game, Tagovailoa received another hit to his head and was knocked unconscious on the field, according to ESPN.

Concussions and CTE have been a problem for decades in the NFL, and Tagovailoa’s situation only added more fuel to the fire. The medical team of the NFL allowed Tagovailoa to play despite his injury from the previous Sunday. This was a poor medical decision, and it showed that the NFL’s priorities were not with the health and safety of Tagovailoa.

The NFL’s decision in this incident stirred up controversy. They let Tagovailoa play despite the signs of a concussion, resulting in him receiving a traumatic brain injury. The medical team was in the wrong and demonstrated that the NFL values money more than the health of its players. Allowing Tagovailoa to play means more people tune into the games, resulting in more money for the NFL. 

Along with the NFL’s poor concussion protocol and athletic trainers’ poor decision making, the NFL has shown continual irresponsibility towards CTE. Former Steelers center Mike Webster, who experienced CTE and committed suicide, was the gateway to exposing the NFL and CTE. According to the Atlantic, an autopsy on his brain led to the discovery of CTE and exposed the concussion crisis in the NFL that we see today. Although the condition was discovered in 2002, the NFL didn’t acknowledge it until 2016, according to CNN. The NFL neglecting the issue for 14 years proves that CTE prevention is not a priority for the league. 

Despite the flawed concussion protocol and the NFL’s negligence towards CTE, some argue that the NFL has made some positive changes to make it safer for players. New Riddell Axiom helmets can help prevent concussions. The helmet contains sensors that read the brain and head of the player to determine whether they may be concussed, or if a hit caused serious damage, according to Sportskeeda. 

The NFL also has tackling rules that are focused on limiting concussions. One rule is that a player cannot lead with the crown of their helmet, preventing head-on head-collisions. Even with technological advancements and hitting rules, concussions are still very prevalent in the NFL. As adult professionals, players don’t always follow the rules and make illegal hits that can cause concussions.

With a growing number of players getting concussed and developing symptoms of CTE, the NFL needs to do more in order to prevent potential suicides like Mike Webster. While the NFL attempts to prevent concussions and CTE through technology and rules, there still isn’t enough being done by allowing players like Tagovailoa to continue playing after a severe head injury. Football is a physical sport, but playing the sport shouldn’t be worth your life. 

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Andrew Zwick
Andrew Zwick is a junior at Bexley High School and a staff reporter for the Torch. Outside of the Torch, Andrew plays basketball and soccer for the school.