The NFL said Friday that reported concussions during this year’s regular-season games increased 58 percent overall, a number which equates to the highest of such reported figures in four years. According to the league, there were 182 reported concussions during the 2015 regular season—an increase from 115 in 2014, 148 in 2013, and 173 in 2012.
But keep in mind, that 182 figure only accounts for the regular season—there were 29 diagnosed concussions during preseason practices and another 52 diagnosed during preseason games. That brings the total figure of NFL concussions for the 2015 season to 271, one week before Super Bowl 50 is set to kick off.
In the same report, the NFL said helmet-to-helmet hits are at one of the highest points since the data has been recorded, a likely factor in the increased amount of head injuries. In 2012, there were 92 recorded helmet-to-helmet hits, that figure sunk to 72 in 2013, and 58 in 2014. This season, the number rose back to 92, a grotesque 58% increase to match the climb in the concussion rate. At least half of the diagnosed concussions from the 2015 regular season can be attributed as a result of helmet-to-helmet hits, the league said.
Just a year ago, the NFL touted decreased figures in concussion totals, citing personal changes players have made to change their on-field behavior, and stricter guidelines set in place by the league. Rather than discuss the fact that numbers clearly increased this season, Jeff Miller, NFL senior vice president of health and safety policy, hypothesized the increase could be attributed to the league’s own combat efforts on the matter—the amount of players who underwent the league-mandated concussion protocol this season doubled in size, Miller said.
“Unprecedented levels of players reporting signs and signals of concussions,” and team trainers who double as spotters or independent neurologists on team sidelines “are much more actively participating in identifying this injury.”
Regardless, the number of players suffering from brain trauma is increasing at a dramatic, and historical rate—which means hundreds of players are now increasingly likely to suffer from a degenerative disease known simply in the field as CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. In December of last year, the NFL reportedly withdrew from funding CTE research, a report the league has since vehemently denied. If the NFL can’t protect its players, parents of the young children who wish to play football will—Sports Illustrated reported in November of last year that registration rates in youth football are declining in equally as dramatic fashion.
“I see coaches report players and pull them out of the game. I see players report themselves. I see players report each other,” opined Richard Ellenbogen, co-chairman of the NFL’s head, neck and spine committee. “Clearly, we’ve lowered the threshold for diagnosing concussion, for pulling players out and evaluating them,” he added.
In the matter of total injuries, the NFL told the Associated Press that there were a total of 1,672 recorded during all regular-season games played this year. Mathematically, that figure equates to roughly one injury per player league-wide.
David Barclay is an NFL Insider for byteclay.com. E-mail: email@example.com Twitter: @DJamesIII