NFL gets tough on concussion policy violations

The NFL and NFL Players Association jointly announced new guidelines on Monday designed to probe and punish teams who violate the league’s concussion protocol.

Under the new policy, when a team’s medical staff or other employee is determined to violate the concussion protocol the team could be subject to discipline, either fines of anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 for a first violation or loss of draft picks.

Fines for violators will ramp up to a minimum of $100,000 for second and each additional violation of the concussion protocol.

To enforce the new policy, the league will designate a representative to monitor teams’ implementation of the protocol and investigate potential violations. The league and union’s joint statement said the investigation will not make medical conclusions, but will only determine whether the protocol was followed.

The league and union’s new rules are geared to refine the existing ability to enforce whether teams are abiding by the concussion protocol, making it easier for the league to evaluate how teams handle concussions and determine if a violation occurred, the league and NFLPA said.

Diagnosed concussions rose by nearly 32 percent in the NFL during the 2015 season, according to data released in January by the league.

The 2015 total was 271, a figure that includes all preseason and regular-season games as well as all practices since the start of training camp. The league had previously boasted of a decrease in reported concussions in both 2014 (206) and 2013 (229), a drop the league attributed to an enhanced concussion protocol it implemented after the 2012 season. There had been 261 concussions in 2012.

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