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Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Poster warns players on concussions

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The NFL will distribute a new poster to teams that warns of the dangers from concussions in much harsher language than the league had previously used.

Traumatic brain injury "may lead to problems with memory and communication, personality changes, as well as depression and the early onset of dementia," the document reads. "Concussions and conditions resulting from repeated brain injury can change your life and your family's life forever."

Concussion: A Must Read for NFL Players
The NFL will distribute this poster to all 32 team locker rooms and as a brochure.

The acknowledgment of such risks is a significant change from a pamphlet previously distributed to players, starting in 2007.

That pamphlet said: "Current research with professional athletes has not shown that having more than one or two concussions leads to permanent problems if each injury is managed properly."

Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, co-chairman of the NFL committee that studies concussions, said that recent research -- even reports that have come out in just the last few months -- influenced the changes in wording.

Ellenbogen, a neurosurgeon at the University of Washington who became the co-chair in March, said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wanted the committee to "get in front of the medical evidence."

He said Goodell told members, "We need to be the leaders,"

The new wording was first reported by The New York Times. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed the changed language on Tuesday.

The document was a joint effort of the NFL's and union's medical committees. Ellenbogen said they consulted with experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense.

The new poster lists concussion facts and symptoms and reasons why players should report suspected concussions. "Repetitive brain injury, when not treated promptly and properly may cause permanent damage to your brain," it says.

Ellenbogen said the committee also talked to players, including Seattle Seahawks special teams ace Sean Morey, about how to word the poster so that players would heed its warnings.

"This is the most avant garde, up-to-date scientific document out there for a contact sport," Ellenbogen said. "While it's intended for the pros, we're hoping it has a trickle-down effect to make every sport safer."

Veteran Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking said it's always good to have "anything that can warn guys and can give everyone transparency so it's clear the effects of this game that we play."

But he also conceded, "If I knew that 12 years ago coming into this, I wouldn't change a thing; I wouldn't do anything different."

Fellow Dallas linebacker Anthony Spencer agreed that it's important for players to be aware of the risks, but he's not sure the new poster will make them any more knowledgeable.

"I'm sure everyone knows," he said. "I don't think it's a big secret."