As the medical field continues to learn more about the harmful effects of concussions, sports leagues are becoming increasingly concerned about players suffering the injuries. The NFL became more sensitive to concussions last season, holding concussed players out of games who typically would have played in the past. But one issue raised by Alex Marvez last week is that some players could try to fudge their medical exams so they can play. One strategy to beat the test he wrote about was using ritalin to improve focus in concussion tests. Another is by tanking their baseline exam, which is something Peyton Manning admitted to doing.
Pro Football Talk pointed out that in a recent interview Peyton said he purposely does bad on his baseline exam. “They have these new [brain] tests we have to take. Before the season, you have to look at 20 pictures and turn the paper over and then try to draw those 20 pictures. And they do it with words, too. Twenty words, you flip it over, and try to write those 20 words. Then, after a concussion, you take the same test and if you do worse than you did on the first test, you can’t play. So I just try to do badly on the first test.”
Whether Peyton was joking is for you to decide, but this is no laughing matter. Marvez had said players were already trying to cheat concussion tests and Peyton’s comments support that sentiment. I’m not sure how to police that other than by developing a new test, but I’ll say what I’ve said before: if players want to screw up their first test on purpose and end up with scrambled eggs for brains, that’s their issue. You just hope they’d be wise enough and thinking long-term enough not to do that. At least that’s my hope.