NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell today announced the launch of Play Smart. Play Safe. — an initiative to drive progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of head injuries, enhance medical protocols and further improve the way the game is taught and played.
To begin the initiative, the NFL and its 32 club owners have pledged an additional $100 million in support of independent medical research and engineering advancements—building on the $100 million that the NFL and its partners are already spending on medical and neuroscience research—and they have committed to anything and everything to make the game of football safer.
"The NFL has been a leader on health and safety in many ways, and we've made some real strides in recent years," Commissioner Goodell wrote in an open letter to fans. "But when it comes to addressing head injuries in our game, I'm not satisfied, and neither are the owners of the NFL's 32 clubs. We can and will do better."
The Commissioner and the NFL owners said their primary interest is in keeping players and the public informed about important health issues. They acknowledged that while the NFL can never completely eliminate the risk of injury in football, the league will strive to make the game safer for professional athletes down to young athletes first learning how to play.
Commissioner Goodell said, "Everyone looks at these great players who perform on that field and do extraordinary things. But they're human beings with families, with people that rely on them. And they rely on us to take the right steps and the appropriate steps to be able to protect them. Just like the fans want us to protect the game and to grow the game, they want us to protect those players."
To underscore how the NFL plans to achieve its goal of making the game safer, the Play Smart. Play Safe. initiative is organized under four pillars:
1. Protecting Players: Making changes on and off the field to protect the health and safety of every player in the NFL.2. Advanced Technology: Championing new developments in engineering, biomechanics, advanced sensors and material science that mitigate forces and better prevent against injuries in sports.3. Medical Research: Supporting independent research to advance progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of head injuries, and accelerate scientific understanding of their long-term impact.4. Sharing Progress: Sharing what the NFL learns across all levels of football—and to other sports and society at large.
The new, long-term commitment builds on progress the NFL—working with all 32 clubs and the NFL Players Association—has made in recent years to improve health and safety.
The NFL has made 42 rule changes since 2002 to protect players, improve practice methods, better educated players and personnel on concussions, and strengthen our medical protocols. The NFL has transformed the sideline, staffing each game with 29 medical professionals. Along with the NFLPA, the league recently announced a new policy to enforce the NFL Game Day Concussion Protocol. This new agreement makes clear that there will be serious consequences for any team that fails to follow the protocols.
For more information about the initiative, and to read the Commissioner's letter to fans, please visit www.PlaySmartPlaySafe.com.