Every season the NFL puts out an annual report on player safety, helpfully titled the “NFL Health and Safety Report.” Now that we’ve arrived at the end of the regular season, let’s revisit the report from the preseason.
The 2015 NFL Health and Safety Report was happy to report that “[o]ngoing rule changes have sparked a progressive reduction in player concussions,” and says the league saw a 35 percent drop in concussions from 2012 through the end of last season. Those numbers are basically supported by the folks manning the Concussion Watch over at Frontline—they say there were 171 concussions in 2012, then 152 in 2013, then 123 in 2014. I haven’t done the math, but, sure, yeah, that looks like good progress!
And it isn’t hard to believe that NFL protocols had a direct effect on this decrease. Maybe rules changes having to do with defenseless players and targeting changed the way players collide on the field. Maybe an enhanced concussion protocol prevented already-concussed players from returning to action, when particularly vulnerable. It’s also possible, of course, that the protocol’s mandates—basically playing-time restrictions—encourage players to hide concussion symptoms so as to avoid the protocol altogether. Maybe some combination of all those factors led to the reduction. Hmmm.
Where does that leave us today, at the end of another season? Well, we’ve got a little football still to go and that progressive drop is a goner. As of this morning, the 2015 season has seen at least 166 concussions, via Frontline. ATC spotters? Bad luck? Increased violence? More self-reporting? Less hiding of symptoms?
If you’re like me, and believe that the whole idea of reducing brain injuries in American football is absurd and pointless, the real question will be whether the NFL will own this increase the way they owned the decrease, and what they’ll use for an explanation. We’ll know before the start of next season!
Here are some other things to watch, if you’re looking for alternatives today:
12:15 p.m. — beIN Sports Connect — La Liga Soccer: Athletic Bilbao vs. Las Palmas
Bilbao are a respectable 7th on the table, and they should have their way with dismal Las Palmas. Nothing real exciting about this match. Break in case of emergency.
12:15 p.m. — beIN Sports Español — La Liga Soccer: Deportivo vs. Villarreal
Ah ha! Couple of top-but-inconsequential La Liga sides in a match with stakes. Deportivo have the more prolific attack and the better goal differential, but sit a couple spots below Villarreal on the table. Should be a fun match.
2:30 p.m. — beIN Sports — La Liga Soccer: Valencia vs. Real Madrid
Valencia are better than their spot on the table. They’ve got the goal differential of a top-six side and as stingy a defense as anyone but Atlético Madrid. I’m not saying this’ll be a tough match, but it could be.
3:30 p.m. — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Hawks @ Knicks
The Hawks, you guys, are very good. Just as we all knew or should have known. And the Knicks are still a blast, because the Zinger is still out there doing things. His shooting numbers are cratering—he went 4-14 against the Bulls Friday afternoon—but a team with King Zinger and Carmelo Anthony is good television.
3:30 p.m. — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Bulls @ Raptors
Oh yeah. This is the game to watch this afternoon. The Raptors are cruising—they’re not an offensive juggernaut, but, man, they fight like hell at both ends, and Kyle Lowry is a damn superhero. The Bulls, meanwhile, have won three in a row and seem to be hitting their stride. They beat the absolute hell out of the Knicks on Friday, after good, tough wins over the Pacers and—hey lookit!—the Raptors. The crowd in Toronto is gonna be nuts, this game should be awesome.
6 p.m. — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Heat @ Wizards
When these teams last met, in Miami, a solid Wizards win sent the Heat into a bit of a tailspin from which they seem to have recovered. The Wizards looked like they were rounding into shape, but, man, they just cannot stay healthy. They’re down Bradley Beal, Nene, Gary Neal, Alan Anderson, and, umm, DeJuan Blair. But! They gave the business to the Magic Friday night, John Wall is currently playing like one of the best players on earth (#NBAVote), and a fun byproduct of all their health woes is they’ve been forced to use a lot of really unexpected lineup combinations. This ought to be a tough, hotly contested game.
9 p.m. — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Trail Blazers @ Nuggets
The Blazers are still really, really fun, even without Damian Lillard. C.J. McCollum is so zippy and full of belief, and the whole team is athletic and bushy-tailed. The Nuggets have lost four straight and have the second-worst point differential in the Western Conference. I might not normally recommend this game, except these two teams just met on Wednesday and McCollum and Will Barton were electric. It’ll make for fun television, I think.
1 p.m. — WeTV — Roseanne
I have become like Ben Affleck in Good Will Hunting: every week I scroll down to WeTV on the Guide and quietly hope Roseanne will have just moved on—no goodbye, no nothing. Unlike Ben Affleck, though, I am mostly hoping my Will Hunting will be replaced by early episodes of Law & Order.
1 p.m. — TV Land — The Golden Girls
Get a load of this shit, you guys...
3 p.m. — Logo — The Golden Girls
Heh. I catch shit every week for recommending this show, and now I’m recommending it twice. Motherfuck every last one of you assholes.
This marathon will get you through the whole goddamn afternoon.
4 p.m. — FXX — The Simpsons
Episodes today include the excellent “Dancin’ Homer,” and then a bunch of shit that will darken your spirit and ruin your sense of humor for years and years.
Noon — Syfy — Star Trek VII: Generations
This is not a well-liked Star Trek movie! I dunno, though—as a teenager, I was pretty pumped for the Kirk-Picard meeting, and the Nexus is an interesting idea, even if the movie does kinda feel like a long-ass Next Generations episode.
1 p.m. — CMT — Happy Gilmore
This is a funny movie. It’s also a stupid-as-hell movie, and it’s hard to give a shit whether Happy beats Shooter, because they’re both complete assholes.
2:30 p.m. — Sundance — Kill Bill: Vol. 1
This was the start of the period of Quentin Tarantino’s career when he no longer made feature films that were not violent, cartoonish revenge fantasies. Maybe Hateful Eight isn’t one? I’m bored enough of his stuff that all my curiosity is gone.
4:30 p.m. — Syfy — The Fifth Element
It’s become something of a football Sunday counterprogramming staple, at this point. I dig it.
5 p.m. — AMC — Tombstone
To my knowledge, there is not a movie about Wyatt Earp that positions him as a gunslinging bully racketeer piece of shit. You can sense, though, in Tombstone, that this is probably a case of history being written by the victors. I would watch the absolute hell out of a movie in which Earp is the villain.
5 p.m. — Sundance — Kill Bill: Vol. 2
Uma Thurman is great.
6 p.m. — abc Family — Forrest Gump
Buh. Like getting hit over the head with a giant inventory of heavy objects for 142 minutes.
7 p.m. — BBC America — Batman Begins
I like the idea that Ra’s al Ghul thinks Bruce Wayne’s folks somehow at some point rescued the nightmarish hell-hole that is Gotham City. Not sure that notion checks out! Gotham is on the brink of actual annihilation more than any place on earth—the city is bottomlessly corrupt and depraved and spits out supervillains like there’s an assembly line downtown—but Thomas Wayne and the Wayne Foundation saved it from something? OKEE DOKE.
8 p.m. — FX — Man of Steel
A good option for those of you thinking of flushing your hard-earned dollars on Dawn of Justice—surely this will knock some sense into you. This movie is a glossy piece of crap, and I feel confident the same will be true of its sequel.
8 p.m. — AMC — Rocky
[slinks in quietly] actually, Creed was mostly dumb and poorly-acted [runs away]
8 p.m. — TCM — His Girl Friday
This is a cool movie with a style and sense of humor that still hold up half a century later. Compare that to Family Guy, a show whose jokes lost their edge literally before they were ever even uttered.
Happy New Year, everyone.
Photo via AP