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Can NFL keep whistle-blowers confidential?

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Concudan, May 27, 2007.

  1. Concudan

    Concudan Meh... Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 5, 2006
    First-year commissioner Roger Goodell continues to do all the right things and push most of the right buttons, and that was obvious again this week, when at the league's spring meeting in Nashville, Tenn., he unveiled new standards for the treatment of concussions.

    As he had previously suggested, Goodell is mandating that every NFL player undergo neuropsychological testing to determine a baseline from which doctors can then compare any head injuries. The mandate is a critical first step because it will provide physicians with data that will be significant in assessing the effects of concussions.

    Goodell stressed that medical decisions should always supercede competitive ones as team doctors assess concussions and decide when players should return to action.

    We want to be ahead of curve," said Goodell, who noted that the league has helped subsidize research into concussions for 14 years. "But the most important thing with this issue is that it does not begin with these reports. The safety of our players is always important to us.

    Perhaps the most notable component of the standards disseminated in Nashville is the so-called "whistle-blower" element. According to the plan, the league will establish a system under which players can anonymously report any incident in which a doctor is pressured to return a player to the field, or any instance in which a player is pressured to return.

    Roger Goodell laid out some new guidelines on dealing with concussions at the recent NFL meetings.
    In discussions with a half-dozen players this week, the whistle-blower initiative was hailed universally as a major step, in theory, but there are already concerns about its application. A few veterans were skeptical about its potential effect because, they suggested, players will be reluctant to report such incidents.

    "This is the same league that tells you the [drug-testing] system is all confidential … but then the results somehow manage to get leaked," one veteran said. "After the incident with the three guys in the draft [who reportedly admitted to marijuana use], there are players who figure that [confidentiality] can't ever be guaranteed. So for the whistle-blower deal to work, the league is going to have to work hard to regain the confidence of some guys."

    That will certainly be a key, as will educating league players and coaches, if the ambitious concussion program is to be successful.

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