In a wide-ranging interview, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked by SI.com’s Peter King what he thought of Chris Borland’s decision to retire early because of the concussion issue.and the impact it might have on “the future of football?”
“This isn’t something that came up yesterday for us,” the commissioner said. “We’ve been working on the safety of our game throughout our history—with an incredible focus on it in my personal time as commissioner … We’ve seen a reduction of concussions by 25 percent just last year. That’s continuing a three-year trend on that issue. We saw a lot of those techniques in the reduction of those penalties, and it hasn’t impacted the quality of the game. You’d have to admit that the quality of the game is outstanding. There was a lot of criticism several years ago that we were changing the game. We are changing the game, for the better. The game has never been better or safer. And I think that the statistics bear that out.
“We also are very focused on making sure that we provide the best medical care. I think you’ve seen recently that we hired Betsy Nabel. For the first time ever, we have a chief medical advisor, and she’s someone who I think will bring a great deal of experience, independence and thought to all the work that we’re doing to make sure that our players get the absolute best medical care …
“I go back to something else that I think is very important—NFL players are living longer than the average American male. And quite a bit—two to three years on average, according to the Niosh study. … And we’re also seeing very positive results in youth football and high school football. High school football went up this year in terms of participation, despite all of the coverage.”
“What we want are facts to be out there. … When they hear the facts, they’ll realize that the game has an awful lot to offer. While there’s risk of injury, there’s risk in any physical activity. The way the game is being taught is making it a safer game and a better game.”
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