Speaking at the NFL's seminar at Johns Hopkins University, the heads of the NFL's Head, Spine and Neck Committee suggested the NFL needs a "culture change" if efforts to improve player safety will improve.
"We're at that tipping point where there is probably going to have to be an enormous culture change that occurs that will happen over years," Richard G. Ellenbogen, co-chairman of the NFL's Medical Committee on Head, Neck and Spine, told reporters after a one-day, league-financed educational conference.
"The youth athletes are looking to the professionals as role models, and the professionals now realize if they don't do it right, the kids aren't going to do it right," said Ellenbogen, a University of Washington professor.
Ellenbogen and Dr. Hunt Batjer are the new leaders of the committee. They've previously expressed interest in distancing themselves from the previous committee who weren't as aggressive in identifying concussion problems in the league.
The biggest problem, the way I see it, is actually getting players to report the injuries. There's a perception that teams view injuries as a weakness so for a player that's on the roster bubble, there may not be an incentive to tell someone about an injury, specifically to the head.
Injury-reporting procedures might be revamped. Batjer said injured players reflexively resist coming out of games so as not to let down their teams. "There are tremendous disincentives to report," he said. "So I think our challenge with the NFLPA is to work to break down some of those cultural barriers and create incentives in the opposite way. There could even be financial incentives to report" injuries.