In a shift in the NFL's approach to handling concussions, the league will soon require teams to receive advice from independent neurologists while treating players with brain injuries, several people with knowledge of the plan confirmed Sunday.
For generations, such medical decisions – either during or after games – have been made by doctors and trainers employed by the team, raising questions of possible conflicts of interest when coaches and owners want players to return more quickly than proper care would suggest.
The league has faced barbed criticism from outside experts and, most recently, from Congress over its policies on handling players with concussions.
The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell have insisted that the NFL’s policies were safe, but after an embarrassing hearing on the issue before the House Judiciary Committee last month in which the league was compared with the tobacco industry, the NFL seems to have begun to embrace the value of outside opinion.
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NFL spokesman Greg Aiello offered no details of the new guideline.
“We are not commenting further,” Aiello wrote in an e-mail message, while confirming that independent doctors would soon be used in players’ care for concussions.
Adams offers olive branch
Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams is making a friendlier gesture to the Buffalo Bills one week after his obscene finger to fans earned him a fine.
A full-page ad on the back of Sunday’s Buffalo News says, “We wish the Bills and their fans good luck today and for the remainder of the season.” Adams’ name is printed below.
The NFL fined Adams $250,000 last Monday for obscene gestures he made at Buffalo fans a day earlier while celebrating the Titans’ 41-17 victory.
Adams, 86, issued an apology hours before he was fined, saying he got caught up in the win.
Buffalo Bills running back Marshawn Lynch (shoulder), guard Eric Wood (broken leg), guard Seth McKinney (knee) and defensive tackle John McCargo (calf) left Sunday’s game against the Jaguars and did not return. … The Green Bay Packers lost cornerback Al Harris and outside linebacker Aaron Kampman to knee injuries Sunday. … San Diego right tackle Jeromey Clary was taken off the field in a cart early in the fourth quarter at Denver after hurting his left leg.