In the past few years, the National Football League (NFL) has been implementing a number of measures to try to reduce the risk of concussions to its players. It has been forced to do this as studies have increasingly shown that concussions (and even blows to the head that do not result in concussions) can be very harmful to players even long after their careers are over. The NFL sees this as a real threat to their game and is therefore trying relatively hard to improve player safety with regard to concussions.
Among the things that the league has done are:
- Encouraging more touchbacks on kickoffs. The league has moved the kickoff spot up five yards so that fewer kicks will be run back. This is because kickoff returns often involve particularly violent collisions and are more likely to result in injuries than other plays.
- Allowing kickoff teams a shorter running start. Players on kickoff coverage may now only get a five yard running start before the ball is kicked. This is meant to slow them down a little so as to reduce the violence of collisions they are involved in.
- Calling more penalties on blows to the helmet. The NFL has greatly increased the number of roughing the passer calls on blows to the quarterback’s head. It has also had officials call more penalties (and has levied more fines and suspensions) for plays where one player delivers a blow to the head of another player who is defenseless.
- Tighter rules on players returning after concussions. The NFL has mandated new rules that are meant to make it harder for players to return to playing (either in the same game or in subsequent games) after sustaining a concussion or possible concussion. This is meant to prevent players from incurring another blow to the head following a brain injury. These second injuries can be much worse than regular injuries.
These are the most prominent efforts being made by the NFL in response to the rise in concussions.
Every year, the National Football League has implemented changes and rules in order to decrease the number of injuries overall, not just with concussions. Obviously, concussions are a huge concern for the NFL, because it is a head injury, which could be very dangerous and has the potential of being fatal (where as a broken bone is very unlikely to kill a player). You can see some of those changes that have been made just in the design of the helmets for head injuries and pads/protective gear for injuries involving the rest of the body. In the early 20th century, helmets were simply leather caps that had no face protection, and really not a whole lot of head protection either. Since then, many helmet design changes have been made to protect the players to become the hard plastic with inside cushioning and a face guard that they are today.
Hope this helps!