Some football players consider concussions to be part of the game, much like sprains, strains, and other common football injuries. When the San Francisco 49ers benefitted from a collision that sent New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas out with a concussion, its players characterized the hit as an effective way to send a message. However, when an opposing team reportedly targeted a 49er wide receiver with a history of concussions, the perspective of the local media changed.
While some players are willing to hide their concussions, such decisions bear long-term consequences, as seen in the numerous complaints recently filed by retired NFL players.
In October 2009, the House Judiciary Committee held a contentious hearing on the NFL’s response to brain injuries in current and former players. The chairman of the NFL committee on brain injuries subsequently resigned. In December 2009, the NFL announced stricter guidelines for returning to play after a player sustains a concussion on the field.
The new guidelines require that players who suffer concussions cannot return to a game or practice until they show no further symptoms of concussion and are cleared by both the team doctor and an independent neurologist.