The Pro Football Concussion Report

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

In the News

Real Play from Deion, Yes. Real Talk, No.

Deion Sanders on the Atlanta Braves, 1991 (AP)


Deion Sanders was an amazing athlete. Perhaps one of the best ever. Along with Bo Jackson and Brian Jordan, Sanders is one of the few modern baseball and football players who were good in both professional leagues. But like many people who are star performers at work, once away from the field, the boardroom, the movie set or the courtroom, Sanders’ light doesn’t shine quite as bright.

Ken Bensinger of the Los Angeles Times just revealed the startling fact that Sanders filed a workers comp claim in March 2010 alleging that he is disabled from sustaining head injuries (and neck, torso, leg and other body parts, too) while playing football.  What’s so startling about this is that Sanders went on TV six months ago and publicly blasted the former players who were suing the NFL for lying about their injuries. Sanders made his now dumbfounding comments during the NFL Network’s Super Bowl pre-game show.


Sorry Vince, There is Another Outcome.

Vince Lombardi after 1st Super Bowl Victory, 1967 (AP)


As the shock of the sudden proposed settlement of the NFL concussion litigation wears off (some experts had estimated the process could take 8 years), there’s still quite a bit of misunderstanding  out there. Many pieces in the media are still focused on winning and losing. For instance, the following SFGate headline is not an uncommon one:


“Concussion settlement a win for NFL”


One of the methods that the writer, Bruce Jenkins uses to determine victory is to divide $765 million by 4,500 plaintiffs and get $170,000 for each player. As a result, Jenkins points out that $170,000 is woefully low to properly care for someone with ALS, Parkinson’s, or dementia. Fortunately though, Jenkins “math” is meaningless and the money available for treatment or compensation to severely affected former players will actually be much higher per patient.


Not an Award or a Penalty, But it’s Something.

Former Bengal & Buccaneer Glenn Bujnoch


Certainly we’ve quickly jumped on the proposed NFL litigation settlement and tried to analyze it without much of the hopefully forthcoming detail. One thing though does seem apparent.

The former players and their families who are suffering the most will finally get an opportunity to receive money.

And in the end, that’s the most important thing. It would be fascinating to see some of the legal battle played out, but that’s not why lawyers battle. Unlike football, they don’t play to win the game. They compromise. As one attorney once put it, a typical lawsuit ends as a lose-lose proposition. Never a win-win. Considering the circumstances and the importance of the issues in the concussion litigation, that’s what we have. Seriously ill, suffering people with brain damage trying to get assistance from their former employer based on the job they used to perform.

Great Piece. You’re Fired.

Howard Beale was killed over ratings, 1976 (MGM)
Howard Beale was also killed over ratings, 1976 (MGM)


The switchboard lighting up can be a good thing or a bad thing. And if no one watched the recent PBS Frontline – ESPN OTL joint investigative report focusing on the concussions, it’d probably still be on TV.

Since it began airing hard-hitting NFL concussion stories, ESPN decided to demote OTL to ESPN 2 and move it an hour earlier to 8am on Sunday. Now it looks like they decided to fix the glitch. Just don’t air hard-hitting concussion pieces that question the NFL’s integrity. Apparently Disney literally pulled the plug on ESPN’s joint project with PBS Frontline just as the joint was getting some legs.

Pellman’s Concussion Passwords: Red Brick Broadway

New York Jet Al Toon (AP)
Tagliabue says he chose Pellman based on his work with Jet's Al Toon (AP)


“Pellman would ask, he’d say I’m going to give you three words and then we’re going to go through a series of tests and then I want you to repeat the three words . . . red, brick, broadway. When the time did come, you’d go ahead and just spit ’em out and you’d get cleared and go back into the game. It was kind of a running joke in the locker room because the words were always the same.”  – Retired New York Jets Center Kevin Mawae


Well, here we go again. On Sunday, ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” (OTL) ran a story on the continuing saga of former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s strange selection of Dr. Elliot Pellman in 1994 as the league’s top concussion expert.

All Show Business was Not Created Equal

Fred Dryer still gets TV money from Hunter, but not from the NFL (AP)


Fred Dryer wants to know why one former employer still pays him when they profit from showing his image, but another employer doesn’t have to pay. After retiring from the NFL in 1981, Dryer, along with Stepfanie Kramer went on to star in the TV cop show Hunter for 8 seasons. Since then, the show has been in syndication and Dryer receives residuals when the show is aired. On the other hand, Dryer receives no compensation from the NFL when 1970’s Rams footage is shown on television or used for marketing although he was a significant part of that “show.” Several troubling outcomes of what has become a legal battle for image rights for players who retired or were cut prior to 2011 against their former clubs have shed light on how NFL team owners might approach a settlement to the concussion litigation.

Study of 43 Players Proves CTE a Myth . . . or Not


Risking ridicule from the scientific community, several researchers have released a study that questions the legitimacy of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and the alleged heightened presence of the neurological disease in retired football players. Unfortunately, among other things, a source of funding for the study might cast some doubt on the validity of its conclusions.