NFL To Have Neurological Consultants On Sidelines By 2013 Season

The NFL has announced that neurological consultants will be on the sidelines of every team starting in the 2013 season.

Possibly the biggest issue in the NFL right now is player safety. Players want to play hard. The league wants players to play safe.

The most glaring safety issue in the NFL is the concussion. A growing number of players are diagnosed with concussions every year. For some it ends their careers.

Alex Smith lost his job as the 49ers starting quarterback because of a concussion. Hall of Fame players Troy Aikman and Steve Young both had their careers cut short because of concussions. Lion’s running back Jahvid Best is most likely out of football at 24 because of too many concussions.

The NFL believes by putting neurological consultants on the sidelines, players can be taken out of games quicker, lowering the risk of the injury. During the Health and Safety press conference on Friday, Executive Vice President of Labor and General Counsel Jeff Pash declared:

“We’re going to include, with team medical staffs, an unaffiliated neurological consultant. (They) will work with the team medical staffs. Not only do you have an extra set of eyes on the field to monitor play, but there is another expert on the sidelines to work with the team staffs and assist in the identification, diagnosis and management of players who have had concussions to make sure that the protocols that we’ve implemented under the guidance of the medical committee and NFLPA medical committees are being implemented properly and to assist in making sure that we provide uniform and highest-level care for players who have experienced concussions.”

Pash explains why sometimes the team physician is not enough:

“The team physician is in the best position to make these evaluations because of the unique knowledge that the team physician has of the player. A concussion is a different kind of injury. Sometimes, there may be obvious signs, but sometimes, they’re subtle. The goal is to have expertise, the highest-quality care, make sure that we’re administering protocols that have been put in place in a thorough, comprehensive way, and we think this additional physician will accomplish that.”

The league has learned a lot about the danger of concussions on players over the last few years. With any luck, placing neurological consultants on the sidelines in 2013 will be a positive step forward for the NFL.

Do you think putting more doctors on the sidelines will help the NFL reduce concussions?

[image via Daniel M. Silva /]