The National Football League's regular season kicks off tomorrow with the New York Giants squaring off against the Dallas Cowboys. And in an effort to better deal with the problem of brain injuries among its players, the NFL is teaming up with the U.S. Army to better understand the brain damage both football tackles and battlefield combat can cause.
Last week Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell signed a letter of agreement at the U.S. Military Academy - making official a partnership that has been several months in the making.
(I've posted video of the announcement, courtesy of The Pentagon Channel, at right.)
As Home Post reported earlier, Odierno and Goodell initially met in June at the Pentagon to discuss ways both organizations could share information on Traumatic Brain Injury, and come up with ways to ease the effects of concussions on athletes and soldiers.
Both the NFL and the Army have a similar problem - the willingness of soldiers and players to pull themselves out of the action to get their head injuries checked out by a doctor. Army Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza told the Washington Post in June:
“You hear them saying, ‘I’m not taking myself off the battlefield.’ Why? ‘Because the guy on my left and my right trust that I’ll be there.’ You heard the same thing from the players. ‘I’m not coming out of the game because I need to help my team.’”
It's estimated roughly 60 percent of former NFL players suffered concussions during games and practice. Nearly one-third of those players said they had suffered at least three concussions during their careers.
Traumatic brain injury is considered the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with an estimated 115,000 to 400,000 U.S. service members suffering from TBI.