Is the NFL Doing Enough to Protect Players?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Running back Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks runs the ball against nose tackle Glenn Dorsey #90 of the San Francisco 49ers in the first half during the 2014 NFC Championship. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty)

Longtime NFL broadcaster James Brown is the host of The NFL Today on CBS, and Inside the NFL on Showtime. As someone who has been in the business for a long time, J.B. has lived through it all.

J.B. has witnessed the rise of the NFL, and he's seen the Super Bowl become America's most watched and loved sporting event. But he's also seen downfalls in the league when it comes to players' health, and like the rest of us, he watched last year's landmark multi-million dollar legal settlement address long term brain injury.

As a careful observer of the game, J.B. is watching first hand the way the NFL is adopting its practices when it comes to players' health and how the NFL is now working the Life Reimagined Institute. As a Community Ambassador, he says, “When you consider how young most players are when they leave the game, you understand how vitally important it is for them to have resources like Life Reimagined to prepare for their ‘What’s Next,’”

Ahead of the big game, J.B. weighs in on the league's approach to the safety and well-being of its players.

"I would like to believe and I'm sure there are a number of people who are associated with the league office who are genuinely concerned about the health of the players and want to do things the right way," says Brown. "But I'm also not so naive that there aren't many who are looking strictly at the bottom dollar."

Brown says that at the end of the day, a solution needs to go beyond numbers. But can the NFL simultaneously care for players and its bottom line?

"I believe, irrespective of what others may think, that Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, really has a good heart—he absolutely, unequivocally is trying to change the tone and tenor of the game," says Brown. "It's going to have to look a lot different, and those are my words, from what it has looked like in terms of the rules and player safety on the field."

Everyone knows that football is an incredibly physically demanding sport—should players be compensated through some sort of retirement fund for the potential loss of physical ability that comes as a result of this game?

"From my perspective, that would speak to having the best and most comprehensive workers' compensation plan in place," says Brown. "Can that be improved? Unquestionably. If you understand anything about football, the game really is and starts in the trenches with the offensive lines and defensive lines. Those guys, for 60, 62 or 65 plays or snaps a game, they are going head-to-head, toe-to-toe. There are collisions each and every time, and the human body can only handle and stand so much. Should they have the best plans in place? Absolutely."

Brown adds that he has witnessed the impact of this game first hand, saying that "later in life, there's no question—the toll that the game takes on one's body is palpable and evident as one gets older."

While there is still a long way to go, Brown says that he has seen some "definitive changes" in the right direction.

Listen to Brown's thoughts on Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman below. 


James Brown

Produced by:

Rupert Allman


T.J. Raphael

Comments [5]

oscar from ny

Who cares??..military ppl go to war and some die and we accept..why would I want a huge man outside in the st twiddling his fingers with no job..heck they'll become great freaking criminals..keep them inside doing something..a great job with lots of benefits..hmmm its a glory to be inside the NFL...I eat dirt for peanuts and no one feels sorry for me or some of us..

Jan. 28 2014 03:38 PM

what an absoule crock. government radio uses the nfl's chief spokesperson as the "expert" to discuss whether the nfl has suddenly decided to carrec about preventing dibilating injuries to players. does anyone really believe that brown would give up his millions of dollars a year and critize his bosses?

You go!!!! government radio!!!!

Hope that you at least charged the nfl for the cost of the program since it was nothing but paid advertising.

Jan. 28 2014 03:10 PM
Mark Fogel

I understand the culpability of the NFL but I'm not sure I can dismiss the player's culpability. Didn't the players know how getting hit all the time would take a toll on their body? They would have to - to not admit that would be naive. Aren't they just as culpable? Isn't that one (not the whole) reason why they get paid so much - to take that risk??!

Jan. 28 2014 12:59 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I enjoy the bone crushing brutality of football, I probably would have enjoyed going to the Roman Colosseum and see how Gladiators rip each other apart...Still, if the game of football turns to "Two Hand Touch" I would have friends over and make some nacho's.

Jan. 28 2014 12:12 PM

Nice white washing of Godell, James. Did you not watch the ESPN -- ooops, NOT ESPN, Frontline piece on concussions? Coward.

Jan. 28 2014 09:57 AM

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