Concussion: How the NFL came to shape the issue that plagued it

Press Release:

ANN ARBOR — Players kneeling during the national anthem is the most recent NFL controversy, but certainly not the first nor the biggest.

Concussion has dogged the NFL since the 1990s, and its initial response — avoidance and superficial gestures to mollify critics — damaged its public image. However, in recent years, the league has repositioned itself as a leader in concussion prevention and research, a new University of Michigan study shows.

The study found that the NFL’s newly proactive stance shows how a large organization can wrest control of and shape the very issue that haunted it.

“They said, ‘We’ll change, but it’s going to be on our terms. We want to be the leaders in concussion,'” said study author Kathryn Heinze, U-M assistant professor of kinesiology. “They said, ‘If we have to change, we’ll take credit. We’ll create the funding. We’ll create the partnerships with other organizations. We’ll work to pass new laws.’ When they finally realized they had to do something they realized they had to be the leaders.”

The NFL is likely one of the few organizations that could achieve this, largely because it’s so influential, Heinze said. Still, the league would have been better off implementing these changes years earlier.

“There’s a lesson here around getting ahead of these changes sooner and avoiding the intermediate stages where organizations resist or avoid change,” Heinze said. “They may have avoided some of those lawsuits, or the Judiciary Hearings on concussion, yet we still see this path very often.”

The study’s purpose wasn’t to judge the NFL’s handling of concussion, but rather to look at how one organization reacted to demands for institutional change. Heinze stressed that findings in no way suggest that the NFL has done all it can to protect players from concussion, only that it has now adopted a leadership role in addressing the problem.

Researchers looked at the NFL’s response to concussion from the early 1990s to 2015. From the 1990s to 2008, the NFL either dismissed concussion as a non-issue or made superficial gestures that didn’t yield substantial change, a strategy called decoupling. Later the league made significant but incremental changes that didn’t yield fundamental shifts.

For instance, in 1994 the league created a concussion study committee, but most members were affiliated with the league and weren’t concussion experts. Later, it appointed an independent director, but 10 of the 14 members remained tied to the league in some way.

However, from 2009 to 2015, the league responded to intense, coercive internal and external pressure by making fundamental organizational shifts, the study says. For instance, it abolished the existing, much-criticized concussion committee and established the Head, Neck and Spine committee, which consisted only of concussion experts unaffiliated with the NFL.

More importantly, Heinze said, the league changed its ideology and also engaged in advocacy, which enabled it to shape the agenda regarding the concussion issue. It finally acknowledged the long-term effects of concussion. It served as a broker, forming partnerships with academia, government and business. It was instrumental in passing a law in 50 states to protect youth athletes who experience concussion; only four states passed this law prior to NFL involvement.

Heinze said researchers were surprised by how dramatically an organization’s position could shift in a relatively short time.

“I know it took a while, but once they decided to go in that direction, they attacked it from multiple perspectives,” she said.

Whether other large organizations model the NFL and take a leadership role on controversial issues remains to be seen. Heinze said the NFL’s initial response of denial and avoidance is much more typical.

Patrick Mahomes contract extension worth up to $US503 million.

The Kansas City Chiefs have handed 24-year-old Super Bowl-winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes a contract extension apparently worth in between $US477 million and also $US503 million.

Those numbers over one decade and are thought to be the greatest agreement in the background of professional sporting activity. Mahomes still has 2 terms left on his existing agreement– worth about $2.8 million for the 2020 period slated to start in September, and also $24.8 million for 2021– which he authorized as a rookie. ESPN reported the brand-new agreement was worth at least $US450 million, but with the remaining cash on his existing bargain, plus bonus offers tied right into the new one, the number can climb over $US500 million ($ 716 million).

That motivated Mahomes’s agency to identify its customer the “initial half billion dollar player in sports background”. Mahomes was selected with the 10th pick in the 2017 NFL draft as well as ever since has won the organization’s Most Valuable Player Award his 2nd season, then led the Chiefs to their initial Super Bowl win in 50 years, being named MVP of this year’s title game in the process.

” Since he signed up with the Chiefs just a few years earlier, Patrick has actually become one of one of the most respected professional athletes in all of sporting activities,” Chiefs chairman and chief executive Clark Quest claimed. “With his vibrant play and infectious personality, he is just one of the most identified as well as beloved figures to place on the Chiefs attire. He’s an extraordinary leader and also a credit scores to the Kansas City area, as well as I’m delighted that he will belong to the Chiefs for many years to find.” An NFL quarterback tosses the round as a protector tries to order him around the leg. Mahomes is among the league’s most dynamic players, with an effective throwing and also running video game.( AP: Charlie Neibergall).

The agreement expansion begins in 2022 when the NFL wage cap is projected to be $227.5 million, yet that number could be reduced depending on profits losses due to the coronavirus pandemic and also the opportunity any games played this period will not have followers. Mahomes will certainly occupy a huge chunk of Kansas City’s income cap, about 20 per cent, which can make it challenging for the Chiefs to sign other stars, however basic supervisor Brett Veach stated the agreement enabled them to make certain Mahomes is not required to be a one-man team.

” We’re mosting likely to remain to do every little thing we can to border him with ability, as well as this offer gives us more flexibility to do that,” Veach stated. ” He’s undoubtedly an essential part to our success as well as we’re delighted he’s mosting likely to be the quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs for a long period of time.”.

The risk with lengthy agreements in a get in touch with sport is that bad knock can turn a no-brainer deal into a dreadful albatross. Mahomes took care of countless injuries this previous period, consisting of a dislocated kneecap on a seemingly innocuous quarterback slip that left him sidelined for a couple of games. However he returned to lead the Chiefs on a lengthy winning touch that culminated with a collection of come-from-behind victories in the playoffs, including their second-half rally in the Super Bowl.