This morning, Roger Goodell announced that the NFL is taking a "major step forward to improve the health and safety of players at all levels of football" in the form of a $100 million initiative.
In Goodell's release, he explains the mission behind the initiative.
"Today the National Football League is launching 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 by all who love it. It begins with a pledge of an additional $100 million in support for 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 a commitment to look at anything and everything to protect our players and make the game safer.
Our primary interest is in keeping our players and the public informed about these important health issues. As we gain new insights or discover new challenges, we will share them, so you will know them as well."
The NFL is setting up an independent, scientific advisory board made up of leading doctors, scientists, and clinicians to drive conversation on a clear process to identify and support research on concussions, head injuries, and their long term effects..
Goodell explains that the four pillars of the initiative are 1) Protection the Players, 2) Advanced Technology, 3) Medical Research, and 4) Sharing Progress.
One of the more interesting ways that is being explored to make the game safer, is using data to drive the exploration of position-specific helmets.
"Many biomechanical engineers believe that better helmets can be developed to do more to protect against concussions. The automobile industry, for one, has used modern tools and rich data analysis to advance car safety in significant ways.
A similar engineering approach has the potential to lead to improved football helmets in three to five years. Modern tools and the collection of data accurately representing on-field impacts will enable engineers to improve helmet performance. Once the problem can be measured, the engineering community can work on creating a better helmet. Our goal is to provide the resources and information to stimulate the marketplace to design solutions.
Another of our goals is to explore the concept of position-specific helmets. After all, we know from tracking game and injury data that linemen experience different impacts than a wide receiver or a defensive back. Yet their protective equipment is the same. We want engineers to use that information to consider design changes that address the specific needs of each position."
There are a number of other suggestions in the article that could have a more immediate impact on high school and youth coaches around the country, including the importance of having a trainer on the sidelines, but also understanding how schools lack funding to pay for one.