The Pro Football Concussion Report

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

What About CFL concussions, Eh?


Aren’t former Canadian Football League players entitled to the same medical attention and benefits that their NFL counterparts will soon receive? NFL players aren’t getting this necessary medical attention as a result of the NFL covered up the long-term dangers of concussions, the NFL retirees are getting it because they need it as a result of having participated in tackle football for so many years.

A few recent articles seem to dismiss the idea of litigation versus the CFL. Writer Andrew Bucholtz characterizes the NFL concussion settlement figure of $765 million as “rather low” and suggests that the settlement amount might serve to discourage a similar suit against the CFL. Perhaps it’s just perspective. Still, some strange similarities to the NFL seem to be popping up. A University of Toronto CFL scientific study on concussions published earlier this year uses some of the same questionable league defending techniques as much of the science produced by the NFL’s now-defunct MTBI committee.


The research article is titled “Absence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in retired football players with multiple concussions and neurological symptomatology.” The study then shows how through autopsy results only three out of six former CFL players who previously had neurological decline were diagnosed with CTE. “Not all athletes with history of repeated concussions and neurological symptomology present neuropathological changes of CTE.”

“3 out of 6” and “not all” are the facts that earn the title “Absence of CTE . . . ”

Interesting to note also is that former 10 year CFL lineman (and Harvard grad) Tim Fleiszner is active with the Sports Legacy Institute. The Sports Legacy Institute (SLI) is the Boston-based organization that Dr. Ann McKee, Dr. Robert Cantu, and Chris Nowinski  Fleiszer, now a sports agent, said that he suffered 30 to 60 concussive episodes as a player in the Canadian Football League. Even in the most serious episode, he said, “It was pretty much laughed off by everybody, and I played the following week.”

Several weeks ago, during a September 28 Edmonton Eskimos vs. Toronto Argonauts game, the Eskimo’s quarterback, former NFL player Mike Reilly, was laid out motionless on the field for 10 seconds after suffering “a hellacious, and illegal, hit by Argo defensive end Cleyon Laing.” After being quickly examined by Edmonton medical staff, the now upright Reilly was cleared to resume play. He threw a 17 yard touchdown pass to complete the series, then went to the sidelines and began showing obvious concussion symptoms. Reilly was then kept from going back into the game. Later, Edmonton announced that Reilly had been diagnosed with a concussion.

Just like we’ve seen so many times in the NFL, the coaches and the league defended the medical staff’s failure to accurately diagnose a concussion at the time of the injury. Sending players back onto the field only to later diagnose them with a concussion is an all too familiar story. There is reason to believe that former CFL players are any less susceptible to dangerous Second-Impact Syndrome, nor will the Canadian athletes suffer any less long-term neurological damage than their NFL counterparts.

CFL President Michael Copeland:


They did follow all the right protocol. I can tell your our medical staffs are incredibly engaged. These people are motivated and driven by their own professional responsibilities and requirements. They look at these things very very closely and I think in this case they followed their normal procedures which you would expect them to do.


Copeland added the CFL brings its medical personnel together at the league’s annual congress each winter to discuss injury protocol as well as health-and-safety issues.

Yes Prseident, we get it.


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