In an effort to continually make the game of football safer, the NFL will have neurological consultants on the sidelines during games that will not be affiliated with the league, according to NFL Networks Player Health and Safety correspondant Andrea Kremer.
According to Kremer, the move to have unaffiliated neurological consultants on the sidelines is something the NFPA has strongly expressed a need for.
There has been a large amount of press over the last few years about the NFL, concussions and their long-term affect. Former players, as well as some active ones, have expressed their concerns about the long-term ramifications of suffering repeated concussions and the NFL has spent countless dollars and made several rules, some unpopular with both players and fans, attempting to make the game safer.
Some studies have shown a link between multiple concussions and Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia. Former NFL safety and four-time Pro Bowler Dave Duerson committed suicide in 2011 by shooting himself in the chest. He left instructions that his brain be used in research on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), caused from multiple concussions while playing football. Former linebacker, Junior Seau, a 12-time Pro Bowl player, also committed suicide in 2012 and a autopsy revealed that he suffered CTE.
The NFL's move to have unaffiliated neurological consultants on the field is without a doubt a move not only to protect the players, but to protect itself, as well. There have been many lawsuits, and likely will be many more, from former players claiming that the league has done very little to nothing to protect them. Having a non-affiliated consultant that can help determine if it is safe for a player to return to the field could help save many players who would otherwise be playing while suffering from symptoms of a concussion.
A hearing has been scheduled for April 9 in a lawsuit filed by former players saying that the league intentionally misled players and didn't take proper steps to protect their mental health in the future. The NFL has filed a motion to dismiss. The case will be ruled over by U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia.