The problem with football players is that they they're born not wanting to act in their own best interests, especially with regards to their long-term health. That's why they play football. In theory, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would be acting in his own best interest by acting in theirs—after all, the NFL is facing a looming liability problem. Goodell could "protect the shield" by protecting his players and ensuring that the league's operation doesn't become unsustainable. Nevertheless, Goodell has no problem with the way Robert Griffin III's injured leg was (or wasn't) handled by Mike Shanahan last week, notably putting him at odds with most Redskins fans, who want Griffin happy and healthy for next year:
Goodell said it was a "medical decision" and noted Griffin had no problem with it, either.
"Now, people can argue whether it was the wrong decision, but it was a medical decision and that's what we want it to be," Goodell said.
"Will we make further changes? Yeah, I would anticipate we will. We'll always look at that and try to see what else we can do to make sure the proper medical attention is being given, that they make the best medical evaluation and it's their determination to make."
Asked if independent doctors were needed on the sideline, not those chosen by the team, Goodell insisted the physicians were impartial.
"When you say independent, all these doctors work for other institutions," he said. "And they're well-respected and the medical care in the NFL is outstanding. And if they have a concussion, they have to see an independent neurologist before they're cleared to play."
If it was a legitimate "medical decision," why make changes? Goodell is talking out of both sides of his mouth here, as he often does and arguably has to on the topic of player safety, and the result is a garbled response, designed to sound non-incriminating and adaptable at the same time. But what are you adapting to if the process in place is based on bonafide medical procedures?
Very few medical decisions would dictate any participation in football at all, much less on a bum knee, and it makes no sense to defer to players on the subject of their own health—they have it drilled into their heads that their worth equates directly to their toughness. The only person that thinks that current players are a reasonable citation on this subject, apparently, is Roger Goodell.
The Commish spent the rest of the Q&A saying that there are "a lot of unknowns" about football's connection to CTE.