The Pro Football Concussion Report

A Fan's Look at Head Injuries and the Concussion Crisis in Football

In the News

A Perfect Storm of Football and Healthcare Cost

1950's, 60's & 70's players are already on Medicare.


A lack of appropriate health insurance plans for retired NFL players, increased awareness of brain damage, and a larger pool of players reaching Medicare eligibility could create a serious cost burden for the U.S. As the NFL team owners continue to lobby congress and work on individual states to free themselves and their insurance companies from the responsibility of paying for the care of longterm injuries, who will pay the eventual cost?

Dick Vermeil against California Bill

Dick Vermeil coached the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl victory in 1999.


NFL coaching veteran and San Jose State alumnus Dick Vermeil just penned an op-ed piece for the Mercury News urging California representatives to vote NO on proposition AB 1309.

“If AB 1309 passes, the Legislature will only be helping out-of-state team owners escape their obligations to the players. It is not fair to convert hard-earned player benefits into owner profits.”

AB 1309 is the professional sports athlete exclusion bill that would remove the ability of designated professional athletes in football, basketball, baseball and hockey from utilizing California’s workers compensation system.

Just Waiting for Them to Die


Former 1960’s Green Bay Packer Gary Knafelc says that the NFL is just waiting for the older players to die.

“If we keep dying off at the rate we are, we’ll all be dead and they won’t have to worry about anything.”

Knafelc says that from the NFL’s perspective, the injuries happened too long ago and “we don’t have enough records to justify helping you out at that time.” Knafelc goes on to say that to make up for the lack of support from either the NFL or the NFLPA, some of the former players have stepped up to help each other out.

Insurance Premiums over Healthcare?

AB-1309 Bill Sponsor Fresno Politician Henry Perea


Why would NFL team owners be anxious to change California law that has allowed some NFL retired players to collect workers compensation benefits? Why would they care if injured former employees are able to collect from a system that they paid into? The only explanation that seems reasonable is that the more NFL teams’ workers comp insurance companies pay out, the more that the insurance companies will charge the owners for insurance premiums. And not that those dollar increases even come from the owners’ pockets – negotiated in the CBA (and agreed to by the NFLPA) is that workers compensation costs are subtracted from the players’ salary budget (cap).

They still don’t know the risk.

Owners Bud Adams, Lamar Hunt and Harry Wismer, 1960 (AP)


“They knew the risk.” You hear it all the time. It’s in every editorial comments section following any article about the NFL concussion litigation.  Fans say it, some lawyers say it, even some players say it.

“The players know what the risks are. When I went out there to play, I knew I could get a concussion, or I could break a leg or have a knee injury.” ~ Dan Marino

Marino is almost correct. Every player, every fan and every parent knows that a player might suffer a concussion. Now if concussions were only the problem. The problem is possible longterm irreversible brain damage resulting from concussions. The risk isn’t concussions. The risk is dementia, alzheimer’s, suicide.

Lem Barney Still Hitting . . . Now though with Words

Photo of Lem Barney , 1970
Lem Barney, 1970   (AP)


Hall of Famer Lem Barney, one of the greats of the game and possibly the best defensive back of the 70’s, wouldn’t do it again.

“People often ask me do I miss the game, do I wish I could still play with all the money they’re making today. Even with all of that, I’d say, ‘Heck, no, the game is becoming more deadly today.”

Barney’s comments (he’s been consistent with this message for quite awhile) were directed at a group of high school age players attending a 2 day football camp in Detroit.

UPMC – Research or Marketing Partner?

One thing UPMC papers don't lack - marketing.


The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s recent concussion research paper, Incidence of Sports-Related Concussion among Youth Football Players Aged 8-12 Years continues a disturbing history of the UPMC providing their client grant source with a document that provides highly respected, high-powered marketing ammo for some commercial product. In this example, the NFL through its NFL Charities organization gave $100k to UPMC with Dr. Anthony Kontos as the Principle Investigator to conduct a study about concussions in youth football. 2 1/2 years later, Kontos and his university associates (including NFL MTBI committee member Joseph Maroon, MD) produced a much heralded, but also criticized paper. Positively for the NFL, the paper’s conclusions minimized concussion risk and even suggested that youth football engage in more full contact practice, not less.