«November Brain Injury Conferences | Home | Third Annual Interagency Conference on Traumatic Brain Injury»

Let's take a long hard look at the NFL and their policy when it comes to brain injury

Today's Daily News contains an interview with me conducted by award winning reporter, Michael O'Keeffe following my return from the Sport's Legacy Institute Award Dinner in Boston.  The Institute presented an award to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.  The story is entitled: Local expert says NFL, Roger Goodell have 'moral responsibility' to protect players from concussions.

I believe that the league has a moral responsibility to prevent preventable brain injures from taking place.

I am hopeful that commissioner Goodell will take me up on my offer and meet with me to discuss the tragic consequences following brain injury and why the league needs to take the lead in preventing preventable brain injuries.

Here is the entire interview:

Michael Kaplen understands why the Sports Legacy Institute honored Roger Goodell at its annual awards ceremony in Boston last week. The NFL gave $1 million earlier this year to the organization founded to promote awareness of the dangers of concussions.

You give a million bucks to a worthy cause, Kaplen says, you deserve a round of applause, a trophy and a plate of rubbery chicken and overcooked vegetables.

Kaplen is a Pleasantville lawyer who specializes in concussion cases and serves as chair of  the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council, an advocacy agency for concussion patients, and he hopes Goodell doesn't sprain his arm patting himself on the back.

 The NFL, Kaplen says, still has a long way to go when it comes to head injuries.

 "Let's give him his due," Kaplen says of Goodell. "But don't forget that the NFL was disingenuous for a long time when it came to brain injuries - and that is being kind.

They denied what everybody knew about brain injuries and long-term health problems for years. They were like the tobacco companies denying the dangers of smoking."

Kaplen was at the Sports Legacy Institute's Impact Awards dinner on Wednesday, and he says he introduced himself to Goodell, slipped the commissioner his business card, and suggested they have a sit-down in the near future. Kaplen says it is important for the NFL to do more to protect the health of its players, but quite frankly, he's more concerned about the millions of kids who play high school ball and in youth fooball leagues.

 The NFL is a role model, Kaplen says. Kaplen is Chairman of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council, an advocacy agency for concussion patients, and he hopes Goodell doesn't sprain his arm patting himself on the back.

 The NFL, Kaplen says, still has a long way to go when it comes to head injuries.

 "Let's give him his due," Kaplen says of Goodell. "But don't forget that the NFL was disingenuous for a long time when it came to brain injuries - and that is being kind.

They denied what everybody knew about brain injuries and long-term health problems for years. They were like the tobacco companies denying the dangers of smoking."

Kaplen was at the Sports Legacy Institute's Impact Awards dinner on Wednesday, and he says he introduced himself to Goodell, slipped the commissioner his business card, and suggested they have a sit-down in the near future. Kaplen says it is important for the NFL to do more to protect the health of its players, but quite frankly, he's more concerned about the millions of kids who play high school ball and in youth fooball leagues.

 The NFL is a role model, Kaplen says.

When it takes steps to protect its players, Pop Warner leagues and high school conferences will follow.

That is why Kaplen thinks it is crucial for Goodell to keep pushing for rules and policies that protect players with concussions. "This is a moral responsibility," Kaplen says.

Goodell, according to Kaplen, has handled the NFL's concussion issue better than any of his predecessors - but that's not saying much.

 "Goodell comes into office at the same time Congress starts looking at this, so he's got a gun to his head and he has to address it," Kaplen adds. "He reached out to the groups and individuals at the forefront of the situation, and he listened to what they had to say. He's taken steps to educate the players and enforce the rules. You have to give him credit for that. Nobody in the NFL had done that before. But putting up posters in the locker room is not enough."

 If the NFL is really serious about head  injuries, Kaplen says, the league would offer players guaranteed contracts, so the athletes won't fear they'll lose paychecks if they are cut while sitting out with a  concussion. 

Kaplen says he would also stiffen the penalties for players who engage in helmet-to-helmet hits. He would suspend them for a season. "Come in with a big stick," Kaplen says. "It will only take one suspension before everybody else is on board."

The league and its Players Association also need to review the files of any player denied benefits for a head injury. There may be hundreds of former players who have been denied necessary medical care and services simply because the administrators who examined their cases did not know that concussions can lead to dementia and other long-term health and emotional problems.

"If he does all this stuff, I'll personally give him an award," Kaplen says. "I come at this with no ax to grind, I like the NFL. I'm an advocate of people with brain injuries."



|

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
Trackback link

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Let's take a long hard look at the NFL and their policy when it comes to brain injury:

Comments

The comments to this entry are closed.