NFL commissioner says league to make ‘change or two’ to concussion protocol

Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League, testifies remotely during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing titled Tackling Toxic Workplaces: Examining the NFLs Handling of Workplace Misconduct at the Washington Commanders, in the Rayburn Building on Wednesday, 22 of June 2022.

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The NFL is ready “to make a change or two” to its concussion protocol, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Saturday at a fan forum in London, as the league faces questions about how Miami Dolphins handled quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s recent injuries.

Responding to a fan’s question about concussions and “recent incidents,” Goodell described the league’s “intensive focus” on the issue over the past 15 years and said its medical protocols have served as templates for other sports

“Our job really is to continue to modify them as medical experts or other experiences tell you that this is something you can do differently,” he said.

The commissioner only took questions from fans in London ahead of Sunday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. He was not made available to the media on Saturday. The league did not detail what the potential protocol changes are or when they might go into effect.

Earlier this week, the NFL Players Association fired the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who evaluated Tagovailoa after he stumbled off the field against Buffalo on Sept. 25 following a concussion. The quarterback was evaluated for a concussion but quickly returned to the game, and the Dolphins said a back injury had caused his wobbly gait.

The quarterback subsequently suffered a concussion four days later in Cincinnati and is out indefinitely.

Goodell, without mentioning Tagovailoa by name, said there is now “more talk” about concussions.

“We understand some of that talk, but the reality is that protocols are really important. We follow that strictly. We don’t see any indication that that didn’t happen in this case. There’s an ongoing investigation,” he said. “We’re really focused on doing that. But we’re also prepared to make a change or two in the protocols because we think we can add another element that would make it even more secure.”

On Friday, the NFL Players Association urged the league to implement changes in time to protect players in this weekend’s games. In its own statement, the NFL said it was working on protocol updates but did not commit to implementing them before Sunday’s games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate was also injured last Sunday when he collided with a colleague near the end of the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs and was initially allowed to return to the game. He then sat out the second half with a concussion.

NFL players “are getting the most extraordinary care and the best care they’ve ever had in the history of the NFL, but they deserve that, and that’s our obligation, and that’s what we have to do,” Goodell said.

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