In 2010, the NFL got rid of the MTBI (Mild Traumatic Brain Injury) Committee and created a new concussion centered one, The NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee. The MTBI Committee had done several studies that contradicted the information coming from outside the NFL and, recognizing that the committee had come to be seen as biased, the NFL created a successor.
New Concussion-Related Rules
Following the conventions of the International Symposium on Concussion in Sport which had taken place a decade prior, the NFL enforced the “Madden Rule”:
Named for John Madden, who suggested it, this rules states that, if a player is diagnosed with a concussion and removed from a game, he must leave the field and be immediately escorted to the locker/training room, and a member of the medical staff (e.g., an ATC, paramedic, MD, fellow, or resident capable of medical intervention) must remain with the player to observe him if his injury does not require immediate hospitalization. There are no exceptions to this rule and the player is NOT to return to the field under any circumstances.
The Commissioner Cracks Down
Roger Goodell, who had been made commissioner in 2006, began making a point of emphasizing the change in culture. In the 2010 season, there were several violent helmet-to-helmet hits and Goodell fined three players for their hits from the previous weekend. Goodell released a memo that said, “It is clear to me that further action is required to emphasize the importance of teaching safe and controlled techniques, and playing within the rules.” The Saints also had a bounty program, promising to pay bonuses to defensive players if they could knock out opposing players, particularly stars. Goodell came down very hard on them and on the league as a whole.