Following a groundbreaking congressional hearing last October on the danger of concussions in the NCAA and NFL, the House Judiciary Committee has set a date for a follow-up hearing. The hearingï‚¾Legal Issues Relating to Football Head Injuries, Part IIï‚¾will take place on January 4 in Detroit, MI. The purpose of the second hearing is to ensure that the NFL is doing enough to ensure the safety of its players and to assess head-injury protocols, or lack thereof, in place for college and high school football players.
Since the initial hearing in October, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made known that the NFL has made it more difficult for players to get back in the game after a head injury. In addition, each team in the NFL has enlisted an independent neurologist for the team to consult in case of concussions and head injuries.
The office of the committee chairman, Representative John Conyers, D-Michigan, issued a witness list last Thursday. The list includes former NFL neurologist Ira Casson, who was not in attendance at the October hearing. Casson resigned from the NFL’s concussion committee recently, and is expected to testify at the January 4 hearing in Detroit.
At the October hearing, Representative Linda Sanchez of California exhibited a TV interview with Casson. In the clip, Casson denied any connection between repeated football head injuries and brain disorders. ‘Sanchez said that reminded her of tobacco companies denying a link between smoking and health damage in the 1990s,’ an Associated Press article reported.
Other expected attendees at next month’s hearing include NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, NCAA director of health and safety David Klossner, and Wayne State assistant professor of neurology Randall Benson. The hearing is expected to focus not only on the NFL, but on high school and college football as well.
In anticipation of the upcoming hearing, the NCAA recommended a rule that would require an athlete to be removed from the rest of the game in the case of concussion, loss of consciousness, or other signs of brain injury during play. If the rule is adopted, it will include football and all other NCAA sports.
It remains to be seen whether or not the NFL will send any representatives to the January hearing. No NFL employees appeared on the witness list released by Conyer’s office, although NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Associated Press that the NFL ‘will be able to tell the committee soon whether we will have a witness attend.’
Americans have to wonder how the face of football will change as congressional action draws increasing attention to the danger of traumatic brain injury in football and other sports. Hopefully, all of the attention will result in more healthy players, while still keeping fans excited about the game.
Associated Press. December 17, 2009. ‘House committee to hold 2nd concussion hearing.’ Retrieved December 17, 2009 from the Sports Illustrated website:http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/football/nfl/wires/12/17/2020.ap.f…