Roger Goodell Admits to Football’s “Dangerous Techniques”
By Gordon Johnson
One of the key allegations against the NFL is the class action concussion case was that the NFL had a paternalistic duty to its players to keep them safe. The case against the NFL then went on to claim that the NFL knew that the game created an unreasonable risk of brain injury, that it was dangerous to the brains of its players.
I have been asserting for months now that the settlement was a PR move, not an actual acknowledgement that more than 20 or so former players suffered serious brain damage as a result of the constant contact involved. Today, Roger Goodell has once again demonstrated that they never took the litigation against them seriously. With the case still short of approval by the Federal courts, Goodell has basically admitted the most key of the plaintiffs’ allegations. On the Mike and Mike Show on ESPN, September 4, 2014, Goodell said in response to Mike Greenberg’s question about rule changes to limit helmet to helmet contact:
(Click the PLAY button to listen to the ESPN call-in from Goodell.)
Well I think players have adjusted, the coaches have adjusted, the game has adjusted and the game is better for it. I think the game is safer and better than it ever has been. There have always been changes in techniques throughout our evolution, and that has been great for the game in making sure that we keep our players as healthy as possible, to protect them and prevent them from injuries and the game has really thrived. We have seen it.The game has never been more popular.
We are seeing obviously less injuries, as you point out, specific injuries particularly when we have taken those “dangerous techniques” out that we clearly can demonstrate that lead to an injury. So we think the game is better and safer than it has been and that is a good thing for everybody.
If he was being coached by his lawyers and not his PR people, Goodell just made a statement that admits so much of the allegations against the league, including:
- The game is dangerous;
- That the NFL understood that there are dangerous techniques that lead to an injury, specific injuries, brain injuries;
- That it had not made such dangerous techniques illegal until recent rule changes;
- That the league has a duty to keep its players as healthy as possible;
- That the league has a duty to protect them from injuries.
Like so many who think that TBI was invented with the Iraq War, Goodell makes these statements as if brain injury and football is something new. Of course it isn’t. Or there wouldn’t be elderly players with so many problems. Some might argue that the dangers of brain damage in football were understood before 2007 but that is absurd. All through the 1990′s, there was a growing consensus on sport and concussion and return-to-play issues. More significantly, the dangers of dementia from head contact in sport has been well described since the 1930′s.
And today, news broke that Junior Seau’s family was opting out of the NFL settlement. Hopefully, others will too, which may put pressure on the League to either compensate more than a couple dozen players or pay the price for knowingly failing to “keep our players as healthy as possible to protect” them.