What We Learned: NFL vs. NHL on how to handle concussion controversy (Puck Daddy)

Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it. The Super Bowl festivities of the last week gave the NFL the chance to once again step into the international spotlight and tell the world just how much it cares about the safety of its players. That amount is "very much," it says. The league is filled with players who could get concussed at any second during any game played anywhere across the U.S.; and with all the attention now being paid to the effects that these brain injuries have not only in the immediate aftermath of their having been suffered, but years or more down the road, it's becoming more important for what is inarguably the most violent sport in the world to do all it could to show people it actually gives a rat's ass about the issue. It doesn't, of course. Not, like, really. Because actually caring about concussions might affect the league's massive bottom line, and maybe even cut into owners' profits, and obviously we cannot have that. Therefore, Roger Goodell, a commissioner who somehow almost makes Gary Bettman seem likable, goes out and talks at length about the NFL's concussion problem during his annual State of the League address, but anyone paying the slightest attention sees that it's all lip service . Nothing he has to say, or will force the league to do, actually does anything to change the culture that lends itself so readily to the problem. Hall of Famers like Deion Sanders saying that guys who get concussions are just milking it to keep drawing a paycheck just underscores the horrible problem the league has with how it views injuries in general. That the horrific Dan Le Batard story of Jason Taylor just about dying , and playing with a catheter so as not to miss a single game, didn't scare anyone into action tells you everything you need to know about the problem, and the NFL's myopic approach to the issue — which is to say, not doing anything — is troubling to say the least. Again, the NFL isn't doing anything now, but it's at least getting some wheels in motion on the matter. Over the weekend, it announced a partnership with General Electric to develop ways to better protect against concussions, and detect whether they've occurred. Part of that includes contributions of $50 million over the next four years. In addition, the NFLPA finally pushed through its efforts to have independent neurologists present on sidelines during games to better assess whether players have suffered concussions during play; this after a PA survey found that 78 percent of NFLers trust their teams' medical staff "not at all," and only 43 percent consider their trainers to be "good." So what does all this have to do with the NHL? It only scores to underscore how little the League is doing with regard to the rash of head injuries now being suffered league-wide, and to change the culture surrounding it. In the past week or so, Gabriel Landeskog, James Wisniewski, Wayne Simmonds and Shawn Thornton all suffered apparent concussions during games. Landeskog on a legal hit, Wisniewski when his teammate ran into him and he went flying into the end boards, Simmonds when he got elbowed in the face, and Thornton when John Scott punched him in the head a bunch of times. It's very troubling. One suspects the only reason the NHL isn't being confronted with the same kind of questions, and sneering derision, the NFL does with its concussion policy is that in the national sports landscape, no one cares about the NHL.

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