NOT TAKING CONCUSSIONS SERIOUSLY. The football concussion problem has been reflected in a one billion dollar settlement with former players and a new movie, “Concussion”, with Will Smith, a major star. So it is astonishing what new NFL rules on concussions do not do. The failings can be summarized: They do not provide enough of a penalty to discourage blows to the head and in fact leave in place some incentives to cause injuries,

There are few ejections for delivering a blow to the head. The usual penalty remains 15 yards.

Balanced against the 15 yard penalty, are the possible gains from causing a concussion to an important player on the other team. If you happen to cause a possible concussion, the opposing player will be removed from the game. If it turns out that there is an actual concussion, he will be out for the rest of the game. If there is no concussion, he will still be required to miss some game time while a concussion protocol is administered to verify that there was no concussion.

And perhaps the referees will not call the penalty.

If preventing concussions is an important value, I would expect that the player administering the illegal blow would be removed from the game for as long as the concussed player is out of the game. (I would hope that the player that administered the blow would be miss as many games as the injured player does, but I don’t see that rule happening in the near future.)

And if preventing concussions is important, I would expect that there would be replay review of possible concussion incidents.

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  1. Nick says:

    I suspect the league perversely is concerned this will draw more attention to an issue that I believe cannot be removed from the sport as presently imagined, and in a just universe would in fact be fatal to the sport.

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