NFL Commissioner Goodell Addresses League's Stance On Concussion LawsuitsPublished June 11, 2012
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday sat down for a Q&A with Peter King of SI.com that touched on several issues, including the latest on the concussion lawsuit by former players and the league's effort to help players in their post-NFL career. Below is an excerpt from the Q&A:
Q: What's been your focus in the wake of Junior Seau's death about what to do with NFL programs for players post-career?
Goodell: Our focus has been on the total health of our players. We have programs from the time they enter the league, programs while you're in the league, and over the last year or two. ... It's much more difficult for these individuals than we might think. Talking to the players and talking to professionals, that transition needs some focus in how we provide them the resources. It's not just their physical health, like cardiovascular screening and joint replacements, it's expanding of the mental health resources.
Q: [Redskins LB] London Fletcher told me mental health counseling for players post-career should be mandatory.
Goodell: Well, at least an evaluation. That's something that's being discussed as a part of your exit physical. Part of that is mental health evaluation to see what it can be. I've heard that from players myself. And we are evaluating it.
Q: Your thoughts on the master complaint from more than 2,100 players claiming the league did too little about head trauma and concussions ... Do you think this endangers the NFL as we know it?
Goodell: We obviously feel very strongly that the complaint is not accurate. We have long made player safety a priority. We have made the game safer and the other games safer. We will vigorously defend litigation and the lawyers will do that in the courtroom. In the meantime, we're going to keep focusing on what do we keep doing to make the game safer and the rule changes and the equipment changes and investing in pioneering research that we think could make significant strides in better understanding of the brain.
Q: What have you learned, let's say, since the end of the season that's contributed to your continuing education on head trauma and concussions?
Goodell: The head, neck, and spine committee met back in early- to mid-February. ... The thing that strikes me the most about it is how much more we have to learn as a society, as a medical profession, as scientists. There's still a lot of unknowns about the brain, either brain disease or brain trauma and how it reacts (SI.com, 6/11).
THE NEXT BIG TOBACCO? In Orlando, Mike Bianchi wrote, "The player lawsuit against the NFL is starting to sound more and more like the multibillion-dollar government lawsuit against Big Tobacco, which found that the tobacco companies lied for decades about the risks of smoking." It is the contention of the former players that the NFL and its team doctors "knew much more about the devastating long-term effects of concussions and brain trauma than they let on." The NFL denies the claims, but Bianchi asked, "Is anybody out there foolish enough to doubt what the players are contending? Does anybody really think in the big-money, high-pressure world of professional and college football that win-at-all-cost coaches would actually put player safety over team success?" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/10). In Chicago, Rick Morrissey wrote, "I believe the former NFL players knew the risks of football while they were playing, and I believe most of them would do it all over again knowing what the latest research shows." Morrissey asked, "How many current players have sworn off the game as the frightening data about brain injuries has come to light? Just about none." Morrissey: "But I also believe the NFL is the kind of monolithic corporation that would hide information to protect its hugely profitable product, just as I believe tobacco companies hid the hazards of smoking cigarettes from the public." The players suing the NFL "will have to prove the league hid information," and if the league did, "it would be despicable." But when players "say they weren’t aware about the possibility of head injuries, it’s like buying a house next to a nuclear reactor and being surprised when there’s an 'event'" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/9).
PERCEPTION vs. REALITY: In Denver, Woody Paige wrote, "Many cynics in the country believe the former football players are just participating in a get-rich scheme. Perhaps some are, and certainly many of the attorneys are. But those cynics must not be talking to a lot of old NFL players." Paige: "I checked the complete lists of the players in the 'master complaint' Saturday, and they weren't just marginal reserves who played briefly and you never heard of them" (DENVER POST, 6/10).
DOWN THE ROAD: In Minneapolis, Mike Kaszuba wrote the "immediate priority for the NFL might have more to do with limiting any damage to its image and heading off any sense from parents that football might be too dangerous for their kids." After the league's spring meeting last month, NFL officials "appeared eager to use Seau's death as a way to tout the NFL's existing programs for helping former players, and cast the death as a larger societal problem." However, NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy last week "bristled at any attempt to cast the league as being under siege or to prematurely link Seau's death to health issues dating to his playing days" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/10).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Don't Be So Sure: Speculation About Devils' Financial Savior Persists
City Of Glendale Approves Coyotes' Proposed $325M Lease Agreement
NBA Finals Ticket Prices Rising Into Thousands In Oklahoma City
Yankees Likely To End StubHub Partnership Next Season, Could Put Cap On Tix Pricing
Red Sox See 745th Straight Regular-Season Sellout, Tops Trail Blazers Record
MLB Franchise Notes: Orioles Draw Back-To-Back Sellouts With Phillies In Town