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NFL must take decisive action against death hits

Over the past weekend we have seen a frightening number of helmet to helmet contacts in professional football, not surprisingly resulting in brain damage to the players involved. Did anyone bother to tell these players that this is football they are playing and not boxing?

I was honored to be interviewed on this brain carnage by Mark Kriegel of Fox Sports who wrote a story which was published on line today entitled, NFL needs to change violent culture.  As I explained to Mr. Kriegel, what we need are season suspensions of players who think that destroying their adversaries brains is part of the game of football. Fines, yard penalties and slaps on the wrists simply do not convey the seriousness and life threatening risk associated with this type of behavior.

We also need more education of players so that they understand the risks that this behavior has not only to other players but to themselves.  Posters in locker rooms are not enough.  There must be a dedicated and ongoing educational campaign about how the brain is injured, the signs and symptoms of a concussion, the  risks of playing following a concussion and the life long consequences associated with a brain injury.  There simply is nothing mild about a mild brain injury and the best cure for a brain injury is prevention.

Here is my quote in today's story:

 “I don’t think we’re at a point yet where the players understand what they’re doing to themselves and each other,” says Michael Kaplen, a New York attorney who recently testified before Congress as an expert on the subject of traumatic brain injury. “The brain of the hitter is as vulnerable as the player he’s hitting” -- Dunta, can you hear me? -- “You’ve got to lay down the law. You’ve got to make the penalty so significant that they won’t do it again.”

Hopefully, NFL Commissioner Goodell heed the words and observations of Mark Kriegel and make the important rule and policy changes that will bring these death hits to an end.

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