The National Football League has a seemingly unsolvable problem: the nation’s most popular sport is destroying players’ brains. Rule changes and high-tech helmets aren’t helping, leading the NFL to take a drastic new step to address concussions.
After success in overruling touchdown catches and officials’ bad calls, the NFL hopes its instant-replay system can also fix the ongoing concussion crisis.
Beginning next week, any play resulting in a concussion will trigger an automatic video review, allowing officials to review play during which the player suffered a traumatic brain injury. Television networks will be able to run four extra beer commercials during the break.
Concussion experts remain unconvinced.
“You can’t just rewind a videotape and a player’s concussion is going to magically go away,” said Virginia Tech brain injury expert Richard Thomas. “There’s no amount of high-definition videotape that will undo a literal bruise on the brain.”
The NFL has doubled down on the benefits of new technology, arguing that the previous benefits of replay will carry over to solving concussions.
“We are confident that giving officials the ability to review and overturn concussions will allow players to continue to play in games without any adverse effects,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in an ESPN interview. “Just like our review system can wipe out an incorrect incomplete pass call, it can erase a concussion from a player’s brain and get them right out on the field again.”
The DailyER’s science experts have yet to find any link between NFL replay equipment and the concussion status of a player, but multiple players have reported success after the replay system’s introduction in practices.
“I got a concussion in practice last week and thought I’d have to sit out, but then coach pulled out this video machine and I was good to go after a quick video review,” said Green Bay Packers safety John Chambers. “This system’s so good at wiping out brain injuries, I can’t even remember having a concussion.”