(updated with links)
The NFL and NFLPA yesterday announced both that all players will have to wear NFL and NFLPA approved face masks beginning in the upcoming season and that the NFL has agreed to increase testing for prostrate, testicular and testicular cancer.
Both agreements are part of an agreement that the league, the players, and the NFLPA reached with the NFLPA’s Executive Committee on Tuesday evening, after both sides met in New York City for nearly two days.
Scheduled to take effect with the kickoff of the season on September 8, players will be required to wear face masks that cover the mouth area of the mouth. For safety purposes, face masks must be hard-mounted to the helmet to meet the league’s standards and designed to prevent puncture or direct impact to the skull or back of the head.
The NFLPA has agreed to more vigorous pre-game testing, particularly for prostrate, testicular and testicular cancer. The 2011-2012 season will include significantly expanded testing, with 240,000 tests. Each team will conduct its own urine and blood tests. A team medical coordinator will report the results of each test to NFL proctor/researcher Dr. Richard Armstrong, who will make the determination of whether a player is in violation of the policy. If violated, the player’s case will be referred to the NFL competition committee for discipline. This expanded monitoring will reduce the number of unnecessary pre-game medical visits by NFL coaches. The 2011-2012 season also includes a more thorough survey of the strength and conditioning staffs, the first of which will be completed this week. As with the last collective bargaining agreement, the league and the players agreed to conduct regular and supplemental benefits surveys as well.
Teams will also be limited to three pre-game medical visits during the season; two per week are currently permitted. In addition, teams will be required to send players in the concussion protocol to a designated independent neurotrauma evaluator, in a private room, for evaluation. The players are not permitted to bring their own independent neurological consultant. In addition, teams may not participate in player gatherings during the concussed player’s recovery period, or in any off-the-field team activities that do not include players in the concussion protocol.
These three new protocols represent the outcome of extensive and comprehensive process that the clubs and the medical staffs undertook as part of the recent informal visits to each team.
The addition of the three additional concussion protocols resulted from discussions between club head coaches, players and league-affiliated medical experts prior to the commencement of the player engagement week.
Following the 2011-2012 season, the league and the players will review the process used to identify and examine concussion data and protocols after the 2010-2011 season. The focus will be on evaluating the current capabilities and whether additional improvements and development can be made, specifically relating to concussion protocols, testing, oversight, and quality control. The players, in turn, will evaluate recommendations they receive from the league on how to improve concussion review in the following CBA.
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