The NFL experienced a 13- percent reduction in concussions during the 2018 preseason compared with 2017, according to Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, and Jeffrey Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of health and safety initiatives.
“Concussions were down in the preseason from 91 a year ago to 79,” Miller told a small group of reporters at the NFL’s October owners meetings in New York.
“We are cautiously optimistic about that result,” Sills said. “We know we still have a lot of work to do, and we are continuing a more in-depth analysis of concussions during the [regular] season.”
The league this year introduced rules changes on kickoffs, including the requirement that players on the kicking team line up just behind the kicking spot and remain stationary until the ball is kicked. In addition, changes to blocking rules were introduced that eliminated some high-impact collisions. The NFL also imposed a rule prohibiting all players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact anywhere on the field.
“Nobody’s claiming victory,” Miller said. “Before we evaluate whether or not some of the tactics have been successful, we are pleased with where we are so far.”
The introduction of safer helmets has also had an impact, according to Sills and Miller. They said 72 percent of players now wear helmets rated in the highest category by the league, up from 41 percent in 2017.
“We’re pleased to see players adopting better-performing helmets because we’re pretty confident from the work that the engineers have done that improved use of better performing helmets is going to lead to some injury reductions,” Sills said.
Sills also reported that the league had “interventions” with seven teams that saw an unusually high number of concussions among players during the preseason. Sills also said that nine players from those seven teams suffered concussions in the 2018 preseason, compared with 23 last year, but declined to identify any of the teams.