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Big League Stew

NFL.com meddles in concussion concerns of Major League Baseball

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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Joe Mauer (USA Today)

With more focus being placed on concussions and other head injuries as we begin to understand their impact on the longterm health of professional athletes, it should come as no surprise that the NFL's official website published an article on that very topic on Friday afternoon.

But something was just a little bit off about its focus. Rather than discussing the NFL’s concussion problems and the latest on how they plan to make the game safer for their players, the article focuses exclusively on the growing concussion concerns in Major League Baseball. Yes, they really went there.

Here’s an excerpt from NFL.com:

Teams have put players on the disabled list due to concussions or head injuries 18 times this year, five more than all of last season and seven more than in 2011, when the seven-day concussion DL was implemented. In 10 of those 18 instances, the players were catchers, including the Boston Red Sox's David Ross twice.

The injuries are having an effect on playoff races, sidelining Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila for two weeks in August and Kansas City Royals All-Star Salvador Perez for a week early that month.

John Jaso, who ranked first in on-base percentage among the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics before sustaining a concussion July 24, has not shaken off symptoms and is likely out for the year.

Plus, it appears MLB is dealing with the same concussion culture that the NFL has been trying to change. Players say many of their peers are playing with head injuries.

Two things should be asked here.

First, is the higher number of diagnosed concussions a sign that baseball is becoming more violent and that there is now a greater risk for concussions to occur, or is it that baseball has become more aware and aggressive in spotting them and making sure players are properly diagnosed?

Second, what concern is it of the NFL’s anyway other than to distract from their own conundrum?

No one can or would deny there have been a higher number of concussions diagnosed this season. Most notably, Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer has been battling concussion symptoms for the better part of three weeks after taking multiple foul tips off his mask. There also was a really ugly collision in minor league baseball game recently that resulted in catcher Brian Jeroloman sustaining a mild concussion and a gash on his neck that required several stitches.

There is reason for concern in MLB and all levels of baseball for that matter. There are issues that will undoubtedly need to addressed in the coming weeks, months and even years as we all become more educated.

It’s not just an NFL problem. It’s a baseball problem. It’s a hockey problem. It’s a problem in boxing, mixed martial arts and professional wrestling, too. The NFL is not alone, but their attempt to deflect the concussion spotlight only puts them in a worse light. Unless it’s information that can help MLB, NHL, UFC or any other organization looking to keep their athletes safer, they’d be best to mind and take care of their own business first.

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