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Isaac Redman admits he went back into game against Bengals with concussion

Isaac-Redman-SteelersPittsburgh Steelers running back Isaac Redman shared some information with reporters on Wednesday that is likely to make Roger Goodell cringe and could result in his team being fined. During Pittsburgh’s Week 2 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Redman left the game and the team announced he was being evaluated for a concussion. Apparently he fooled the medical staff.

Redman returned to the game shortly after leaving. According to him, he did so while concussed.

“I had a concussion,” the 28-year-old veteran said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I was pretty much out of it the rest of the game. I just tried to go back in.”

That is precisely what the league does not want to hear. When asked how he was able to pass the concussion tests, Redman gave a very simple answer.

[Related: Terrelle Pryor tweets he 'didn't remember much' after concussion]

“I said I was all right,” he replied.

Redman did not appear on the injury report the following week. The league claims to have very specific medical evaluation tests in place and requires a player to pass those tests to reenter a game after he is suspected of having suffered a concussion. Players also have to pass another series of tests before playing the following week. If Redman was indeed “out of it,” he should not have been playing. Expect the NFL to remind the Steelers of that in the near future.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Eddie George wonders if some players in concussion lawsuit were all about money

Eddie-George-TitansThe NFL reached a massive settlement with more than 4,500 former players on Thursday who had sued the league over the long-term effects of head trauma. While some players are satisfied with the outcome, others feel that the NFL simply bought its way out of trouble. Former Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George gave a more unique perspective.

During an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Friday, George said he is not convinced the lawsuit or ensuing settlement accomplishes much. In fact, he wonders if some former players who were involved were just in it for the money.

“Was the motive from the players’ side finding a real solution to concussions, or is it about receiving the money?” George asked, via Pro Football Talk. “Because if you have symptoms as a player, and you’re going through issues, with the post-career, and you’re having issues with concussions, what is the money going to solve? What is $100,000 going to solve for you? Is it going to provide the care, are you going to find solutions to your problems?

“That’s what kind of bothered me about the whole situation: What is the real motive behind it? Because there are some players out there, quite frankly, that could be playing the game of trying to get the money.”

One of George’s former teammates, Kevin Mawae, took a different approach on Thursday, questioning the integrity of the league and calling the settlement “hush money.” George said he believes the issue should be more about research than anything.

“I don’t see a win for the players,” he told Patrick. “It’s not about the money. It’s about the research.”

In my opinion, both are right. I refuse to believe that some of the 4,500 players weren’t just in it for the money. That’s just the reality of human nature. As for the NFL, they also got off easy. Rather than drag out an investigation and risk revelations that teams were negligent, the problem goes away. The settlement was very much about business and money for both sides.

NFL settles concussion lawsuit with former players for $765 million

Roger-Goodell-$1-Per-Year-SalaryLike any multi-billion dollar business would have done, the NFL took a step toward making a major problem go away on Thursday when it announced a settlement in the concussion lawsuit filed against the league by roughly 4,500 former players. The price tag? $765 million.

According to the NFL’s official settlement release, $675 million will go toward compensating former players who have suffered cognitive injury or their families (in cases in which the players have passed away). Another $75 million will be allocated for baseline medical exams and $10 million will go toward a separate research and education fund.

“This is a historic agreement, one that will make sure that former NFL players who need and deserve compensation will receive it, and that will promote safety for players at all levels of football,” former US District Judge Layn Phillips, the mediator in the case, said. “Rather than litigate literally thousands of complex individual claims over many years, the parties have reached an agreement that, if approved, will provide relief and support where it is needed at a time when it is most needed.”

When broken down and divided among the 4,500 players who were involved with the lawsuit, the settlement comes out to roughly $150,000 per former player or their family. If a retired player’s condition is deemed to have worsened over time, that player can apply for a supplemental payment, although NFL.com’s Albert Breer reported that those payments will be capped at $5 million.

Of course, front and center on the NFL’s settlement release was the following blurb.

“The settlement does not represent, and cannot be considered, an admission by the NFL of liability, or an admission that plaintiffs’ injuries were caused by football. Nor is it an acknowledgement by the plaintiffs of any deficiency in their case. Instead, it represents a decision by both sides to compromise their claims and defenses, and to devote their resources to benefit retired players and their families, rather than litigate these cases.”

Simply put, this is a win or the NFL. The league can certainly afford a $765 million settlement while it remains at the peak of its popularity. By settling, the NFL avoids the potential of having to go through the discovery process and dealing with investigators finding that they were negligent.

In addition, a judge has requested that neither side comment on the situation beyond what has been written in the statement. Again, very good news for the NFL.

Ryan Clark is ‘disgusted with the NFL’ for looking into lower body hits

ryan-clarkThe NFL has spent the past several years trying to adjust the rules of the game in a manner that will protect players from head trauma. Concussions have become a major in the sport, and lawsuits from former players continue to pile up against the league. One report even claimed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is “terrified” of the prospect of a player dying on the field.

But it’s not just head shots that have become a concern. Now that players are prohibited from targeting the head, serious knee injuries could become more common. Now, the NFL is reportedly planning to study hits to the knees to see if the rules need to be further tweaked, which has infuriated Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark.

“I’m so disgusted with the NFL right now about those situations,” Clark said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “If an offensive player makes enough of a stink, they’ll change it. I know Tony Gonzalez was extremely upset about the hit on Dustin Keller. I understand that.”

Clark then referred to a play last season when he gave up a touchdown against the New York Giants and Victor Cruz because he was afraid of breaking the rules.

“So you go to the other extreme,” he said. “If they decide to change this rule, they might as well put flags on because you’ll give a guy who is 200 pounds, like myself, a 2-foot area to stop a guy who is 240 or 250 running at full speed. They might as well just take us off the field and see how many points you can score on offense in 60 minutes.”

Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller is out for the season with a torn ACL after Houston Texans defensive back DJ Swearinger hit him low. Swearinger later claimed he went low to avoid breaking the rules, and Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez followed that up by saying he would rather be hit in his head than have defenders diving at his knees.

Anytime there is talk of a rule change, players are up in arms. Clark certainly isn’t the only person who would be outraged if the NFL made low hits illegal, but the league is trying to create the impression that player safety is its priority. If they stick to that theme, more changes are sure to come.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Tony Gonzalez would rather be hit in the head than the knee

Dustin-Keller-knee-injuryThe NFL has done a fairly effective job of cutting back on head shots and helmet-to-helmet contact over the past several seasons, but at what price? With decreased risk of concussions comes increased risk of knee injuries, and Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez is not happy about that.

Last week, Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller had his season end when Houston Texans safety DJ Swearinger tackled him by diving at his knee. Keller suffered a torn ACL, MCL, PCL and a dislocated knee on the play. Gonzalez hated it.

“I’d rather have a guy hit me head than knife at my knee,” he said, via USA Today’s Jim Corbett. “You’re talking about a career-ending injury. It’s going to be so hard for Dustin to come back off of that. It should be a fineable offense, just like going for the head is.”

Players have already accused the NFL of turning them into robots with all of the new rules and regulations, so making a low tackle a fineable offense is likely out of the question. The league has worked to eliminate head shots because they affect a player’s quality of life after football. From Gonzalez’s perspective, a major knee injury is just as devastating.

“It should be a fineable offense,” Gonzo said. “That’s just not part of football — hitting a defenseless player in his knee, that’s something we all dread as players. That’s my nightmare. Hit me in my head (instead).”

Gonzalez is not the first player to address the fact that less head injuries could lead to more knee injuries. As Ed Reed once said, football will have to disappear before the NFL can put a stop to concussions. Knee injuries cost players money and can ruin their careers, but they won’t affect their cognitive abilities. That trade-off is apparently enough for the NFL to stick to its guns.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Ike Taylor wonders if knee injuries will increase as head injuries decrease

The more fines and suspensions Roger Goodell hands out over head shots, the clearer his message becomes. Players may not like it, but helmet-to-helmet hits are no longer tolerated in the NFL. Neither is launching yourself at an opponent, leading with the crown of your helmet, hitting a defenseless receiver, or touching a quarterback’s head. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s going to stay.

The idea behind cutting down on head shots is to limit head injuries and improve the quality of life for players after they retire. While the new rules will certainly help acheive that goal, Ike Taylor recently raised an interesting point about the unintended consequences of all the new rules.

“Guys getting fined heavily, especially on our team, we see the commissioner is really putting his foot down,” Taylor said on NFL Network according to Pro Football Talk. “But then again, will knee injuries go up? As a football player — and it’s kind of crazy for me to say this — I would rather have a head injury than a knee injury. But long-term, I guess the commissioner is looking at the head injuries after football.”

Taylor has a point. Unlike James Harrison who does nothing but whine about the commissioner fining him and preventing him from being a dirty player, the Steelers corner raises a valid concern. The league wants players to avoid the head and aim lower. Ideally, they would like everyone to aim at the midsection and keep hits below the neck and above the knee — the way in which players are required to hit the quarterback. That would be nearly impossible to expect on all parts of the field.

Head injuries have longer-lasting, more serious consequences, but knee injuries can be more devastating to an actual career. With guys aiming for the knee, ACL tears will likely become more common. Taylor’s comments just remind us that complete player safety in a game like football is impossible.

Photo credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Ryan Clark: Coaches Tell Players Helmet-to-Helmet Hits are Proper Technique

The NFL has decided to fine Ryan Clark $40,000 for his head shot on Ed Dickson during Sunday night’s Ravens-Steelers game, and Clark is not pleased.  The fine was particularly hefty because Clark is a repeat offender (a late hit out of bounds during week 8 cost him $15,000).  This time, he told reporters he is livid with Roger Goodell over the fine and was candid about the fact that he doesn’t respect Goodell now and didn’t respect him before.  In addition to bashing the commissioner, Clark also said that the way in which he hit Dickson is how players in the NFL are coached to hit.

“This is something we watched in slow-mo as a team — as a team — to say, ‘If you’re gonna try to dislodge the ball from somebody,” Clark said.  “This is the way you should do it.  This is the legal way you should do it.’”

When a reporter asked if Clark was referring to tape the Steelers watched during training camp, he said that he was talking specifically about the hit he put on Dickson and referring to a meeting the team had on Monday night.  Another reporter then asked Clark if it was Mike Tomlin who said that is the way players should be hitting, to which he responded: “Yes, this is what we talked about in our meeting. Like if you’re gonna go to make a play, this is how you should make it.”

It got better.  Clark then talked specifically about the severity of the fine, and said for $40,000 he “might as well put him to sleep for real” or take out their knee.  Goodell is used to Pittsburgh players complaining about fines and bitching about rule changes, but I doubt this rant is going to earn Clark the benefit of the doubt for any borderline hits in the future.

Chest bump to Pro Football Talk for the story.