The NFL has attempted to make the game safer, but those gains didn’t stick in the 2019 preseason. Compared to last preseason, concussions were up 44 percent during the 2019 NFL preseason, according to ESPN.
The NFL released concussion data Tuesday which revealed there were 49 reported concussions during the 2019 preseason. In 2018, that figure was 34. The league’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, said the majority of those concussions were the result of helmet-to-helmet hits.
That data also revealed the majority of those concussions are being suffered by players who do not wind up making their team’s final roster. With a number of teams sitting their stars in the preseason, players on the bubble have seen an increase in playing time in August.
The news comes amid reports that the owners want to expand the regular season. While an 18-game schedule has been mentioned in the past, the owners are reportedly willing to consider a 17-game regular season now. In that scenario, it’s believed the league would cut down on the preseason to ensure players can hold up for an extra game.
The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement with the players expires following the 2020 season. Expanding the season is expected to be a hot topic during the negotiations for the next CBA.
The news wasn’t all negative. Training camp concussions decreased by 33 percent in 2019. In February, the league released data showing concussions were down 25 percent during the 2018 regular season.
It’s too early for the league to release data from the 2019 regular season, though that will be dissected the moment it comes out. With the NFL focusing on trying to make the game safer, it’s imperative that the league sees concussion rates decrease. Otherwise, it’s going to be tough to convince the players to put their bodies at risk for even more regular-season games going forward.
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