NFL continues to struggle with on-field concussions


Ava Stone

The rise in concussions during football has had a giant impact on professional football players.

Jake Sonetz and Isaac Ruiz

When people think about American Football they think about the hardcore tackling and “overprotective” equipment players wear. The truth is though, many football players can recover from a leg, shoulder, hand or other injuries, but the one part of the body that can end a player’s career is the head. Head injuries are serious because of the “off field” effects they can have on a person.

Chronic Trauma Encephalopathy (CTE) was discovered to be directly linked to football players due to hard and repeated hits to the head in 2002. The first diagnosis and discovery were founded by Nigerian physicist Bennet Omalu, the main inspiration for the 2015 movie “Concussion” starring Will Smith. In most cases, CTE is not diagnosed until the former athlete has passed away and the doctors can clearly study their brain. Many football players who have passed away have their brains donated for research to diagnose and understand CTE.

One of the biggest CTE cases was former middle linebacker of the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots, Junior Seau. Seau was a phenomenal athlete and is known to be one of the most talented linebackers of all time. According to he gained a large amount of CTE in his brain due to repeated hits to the head and many (unofficial) repeated concussions throughout his football career. CTE causes memory loss, impaired judgment, aggression, depression, anxiety, parkinsonism, dementia, and other serious symptoms. Seau sadly lost his life to suicide at 43 years old on May 2, 2012, after a long battle with CTE.

Because of CTE football has evolved by creating new practice techniques, better helmet protection, new rules/regulations in games, and many other precautions to avoid major head injuries. The modern-day NFL has had problems with protecting players but at the same time trying to keep the game of football fierce and fast-paced.

The most recent and prevalent situation has been with Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. In week three, the team went against the Buffalo Bills, and Tua got shoved by linebacker Matt Milano and then landed on his back while hitting the back of his head on the field. He got up, stumbled, and could barely walk without teammates holding him up. Tua returned to the game after looking questionable to return and was able to start the second half as it was declared a “back injury.” Tua then played Thursday night of the following week against the Cincinnati Bengals. He got injured again, but this injury was even worse. He got tackled in the backfield and a large amount of force was inflicted on the back of the head. This was supposedly the second concussion in less than a week.

Concussions lead to severe brain swelling if not fully healed. As a result, many people online are saying Tua should hang up his cleats.

“You have suffered severe, long-term permanent brain damage,” Bennet Omalu said In an interview with TMZ. “If you love your life, if you love your family, [if] you love your kids, if you have kids, it is time to gallantly walk away. Go find something else to do.”

The NFL opened up an investigation involving the Dolphins and recently modified concussion protocols. The following Thursday night kicked off week four when the Colts played the Broncos. The running back for the Colts, Nyheim Hines, got pushed to the ground and hit the back of his head. This injury was similar to Tua’s as he could not stand on his own but this time the NFL and coaching staff stepped in and did not allow Hines to play the rest of the game or the week after.

For more information on the new NFL concussion protocols go to or click this link.