Concussions In The NFL And How Players Demand New Concussion Protocols

Steve O Speak

Football is a sport that involves heavy contact. This sport can become very dangerous for the players as their bodies constantly collide with each other with heavy force. It is common for NFL players to injure their bodies, especially their heads.

Like other competitive sports, such as hockey, soccer, and horse racing, several NFL players get concussions from playing football. Because of this, the players demand new concussion protocols from the NFL association for everyone’s safety.

The Common Occurrence Of Concussions In The NFL

Getting a concussion is an extremely dangerous injury that could end an NFL player’s career. The brain is an extremely fragile organ; if an individual hits their head extremely hard, the brain might bounce around the skull, resulting in traumatic injuries. In the sport known as football, players always collide with each other, smashing their heads and bodies constantly. 


Because of the frequent collisions, there is an increased risk for the players to receive extreme injuries such as a concussion. Despite the NFL having rules that show severe penalties for flagrant helmet-to-helmet impacts, concussions still commonly occur in the sport. 


There was a decrease in obtained concussions during gameplay and practices in 2018, with 281 concussions in 2017 and 214 concussions in 2018. But this decrease was taken back with an increase in the total number of concussions in 2019, 224.

NFL’s Protocols Facing Backlash Amidst Tagovailoa Controversy

In a game in late September 2022 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Tua Tagovailoa, the Miami Dolphins quarterback, was thrown across the field, the second time he sustained a head injury that week. He was carried away with a stretcher and was shortly released from the hospital, allowing him to fly home with his team.


Because of this incident, the NFL association was taking several criticisms about their concussion protocols and how the players’ safety wasn’t valued too much. Tagovailoa’s incident put the concussion protocols of the NFL under scrutiny, with some former players getting outraged. 


It was said by former linebacker and current analyst on Fox Sports, Emmanuel Ancho, that Tua Tagovailoa shouldn’t have been allowed to go back on the field as he already showed neurological trauma the previous week. He called for the priority of the safety of NFL players following this incident. 


Legal experts questioned the documentation of head injuries by the NFL, which they stated decreased from 2015 to 2021. The experts doubted whether these were fully documented and how as long as a team doctor decides on the final say if a player can go back to play, the protocols of the NFL are only relevant based on the will to follow them.

NFL And The Players Agreed Upon Updated Concussion Protocol

Following the events of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s injuries in their match against the Buffalo Bills, the NFL and the NFL players association agreed to update the league’s concussion protocols.

The updated protocol added “ataxia” to its other protocols after the joint investigation of Tagovailoa’s injury. 


The league defined ataxia as the state of abnormal balance, stability, motor coordination, or dysfunctional speech caused by neurological damage. Ataxia changed the term “gross motor instability” and was put among the other list of symptoms that prohibit players from returning to a game. 


The league reassured that the concussion protocols are established to establish a high level of concussion care for the players. They followed by saying that every medical professional participates in a thorough examination of the player-patent. The league and the players stay committed to reviewing the protocols to ensure the players’ safety from potential head injuries.


There is no doubt that while the NFL and football are very famous sports games that everybody adores watching, the sport brings a high set of risks for the players involved. This high-contact sport extracts a heavy toll from the players’ bodies, with many collisions obtained per game that can result in head injuries. NFL players hope to see more drastic changes to the league’s protocols to prioritize their safety better.

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