NFL needs to prioritize safety

Dylan Moore, Contributing Writer

The National Football League needs to review its concussion protocols and make serious changes.

In recent weeks, the NFL has received massive backlash for how they handled a quarterback’s injury. Tua Tagovailoa, the Miami Dolphins quarterback, was seen stumbling during an NFL game on Sunday, Sept. 25, after taking a massive hit. Not only did he remain in the game, but he also played the following week.

However, the following Thursday, Tagovailoa was flung to the ground by a defensive player and did not get up for quite some time. Tagovailoa was taken to a local hospital following his injuries and was then taken to a local hospital. Luckily, he is OK and is currently in concussion protocols.

A third party doctor was fired for allowing Tagovailoa to play, but the question is why he was not in protocols before the Thursday game.

NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills said the median time for a player to be cleared to play again following an injury is nine days and it was “extremely unlikely” a player in a situation similar to Tagovailoa would be cleared with the updated protocols. This means Tagovailoa was only given four days to rehabilitate, which is five days less than recommended.

Tagoviloa said he did not remember being carted off the field following his injury. “I don’t remember that,” he said. “But I do remember the things that were going on when I was in the ambulance and then when I arrived at the hospital.”

Football is a dangerous sport, and the athletes understand injuries are a part of the game and unfortunately there is no way to completely prevent them yet.

Sports broadcaster Tyler Sloan said, “I don’t believe there’s a good way to prevent concussions in the sport of football. It’s the risk you take when you put on the helmet.”

While there is some truth to that, players should not have to fear for their lives. “When I first saw the hit, I thought he was paralyzed,” NFL fan Camper Shirley said. There have also been talks about the on-field protocols to get players back on the field after a possible concussion.

However, many believe that “they are looking to get the players on the field as soon as possible,” NFL fan Kevin Moore said. It ultimately comes down to the employers watching out for their employees.

Concussions have been a factor in the NFL for as long as it has been around, but there is concern now because we have learned so much more about the brain and how it can react in the event of a concussion. Multiple former NFL athletes developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, due to the high-force impacts they faced on a regular basis during the peak of the NFL in the 80s and 90s.

One of the most famous cases involved Hall of Fame linebacker, Junior Seau. Seau was a 12-time pro bowler, 6-time first-team and NFL Man of the Year, along with many other accolades, but he is mostly known for taking his own life due to the CTE trauma he faced from playing in the NFL. That should be a wake-up call for the NFL to figure out something to help their employees.

The NFL is progressing in the right direction to ensure player safety, but until that technology is reached players should not play if they show any signs of a head injury.

Because of these recent events, the NFL passed a new rule that if a player is seen stumbling due to a head or neck injury, they must be removed from the rest of the game regardless of passing the sideline concussion protocols.

Injuries are horrible and by far the worst thing about sports. But the games bring joy to fans of all ages.

The NFL is a business and needs to make sure their audience and players are happy. However, it is also important to make sure players receive proper care and support following an injury. Without their players, the NFL wouldn’t be the staple it is today.