NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

November 16, 2012

Goodell says sport will evolve, get safer

BOSTON — Professional football can evolve into a safer game without losing the physical play — or, some would say, violence — that has made it so popular, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a speech on player safety at the Harvard School of Public Health yesterday.

“Football has always evolved, and it always will,” he told an overflow crowd of a few hundred. “Make no mistake: Change does not inhibit the game; it improves it.”

In a long-planned appearance that came a few days after three starting quarterbacks were knocked out with concussions, Goodell said that the NFL has already improved the way it has handled hits to the head. San Francisco’s Alex Smith, Chicago’s Jay Cutler and Philadelphia’s Michael Vick were all diagnosed with concussions in Sunday’s games, but Smith and Cutler kept playing for a short time after being injured.

Goodell said that all three were taken out “as soon as they showed symptoms,” a claim that was challenged by a member of the audience during the period for questions.

“It was identified and they were taken out of the game,” the commissioner said. “Even a few years ago, I’m not sure you would have seen that.”

Listing some of the safety measures that have been incorporated into the sport both before and since he became commissioner, Goodell mentioned the elimination of the flying wedge that was first employed by Harvard in the 1800s and the change in kickoffs last season that he credited for a 40 percent reduction in concussions on returns. He said the league is looking into better helmets and sponsoring scientific research that could make the game still safer.

“Not long ago, the game allowed the head slap, tackling by the face mask, horse-collar tackles, dangerous blocks, and hits to the head of defenseless receivers and quarterbacks. All of that has changed,” he said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
McNabb: Two games is not acceptable for me Ortiz, Price Feud Is Upsetting To Children - @TheBuzzeronFOX MLB Trade Deadline Talk: Price, Stanton, Kemp Tony Romo will be a full-go for camp Teammate's Advice For Johnny Manziel & Josh Gordon - @TheBuzzeronFox Helfrich praises Mariota's commitment to improve Hillary Clinton Blamed Bill's Affair With Monica Lewinsky On Abuse He Suffered As A Child Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent First impressions of Giants' new up-tempo offense Athletic Gaines: Where LeSean McCoy, Kenjon Barner, and more prepare for NFL season Jack White's Cub Face How Emmanuel Mudiay Ended Up in China Sterling says he's not trying to block Clippers sale Selig: MLB 'more popular today than ever' Eli, Giants learning new offense Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Longhorns Coach Disses Texas With Compliment - @TheBuzzeronFOX How Will Wiggins Deal Impact Potential Love Trade? Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Dareus fails conditioning test, Watkins lifts spirits
Special Features