Best NFL Concussion Timeline So Far

Jan 26, 2013

This is one of the best chronologies of the NFL’s history of denial on the long-term effects of brain injuries and concussions. While it only starts with 1992 following the death of Mike Webster, we’re hoping that The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates will research and develop an earlier timeline to show just how far back this coverup actually goes.


The NFL’s Response to Brain Trauma: A Brief History

Checking the claim that the league always made sure players “knew the risks”
We’ve spent quite a bit of time discussing the NFL and head trauma. One rather constant claim is that the NFL has always been always been straight about head trauma and that players “knew the risks.”  I think it’s helpful to weigh that claim against the actual history. Here is one rendition of that history.
1992 - Al Toon suffers his fifth reported concussion in six seasons. Asked if he will retire Toon says, he’s “not thinking about retirement right now.”
A week later Toon retires saying, “I feel better sitting still than moving around. I get real tired. Things I normally help with around the house, I can’t.”
1994 – The NFL establishes the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee. Rheumatologist Elliot Pellman is installed as its chair. “Concussions are part of the profession, an occupational risk,” rheumatologist  Pellman tells Sports Illustrated. He says that a football player is “like a steelworker who goes up 100 stories, or a soldier.”
Pellman continues–“Veterans clear more quickly than rookies…They can unscramble their brains a little faster, maybe because they’re not afraid after being dinged. A rookie won’t know what’s happened to him and will be a little panicky. The veterans almost expect the dings. You have to watch them, though, because vets will try to fool you. They memorize the answers. They’ll run off the field staring at the scoreboard.”
You can read the rest of this piece by clicking HERE.
We’ve also just been alerted to an article in the upcoming Jan. 31st edition of Rolling Stone Magazine titled, This is Your Brain on Football by Paul Solotaroff, with a subtitle ‘THE NEW SCIENCE OF CONCUSSIONS PROVES THAT HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL IS AMERICA’S MOST DANGEROUS GAME.’ The story isn’t available on their site just yet but the magazine should be on the newsstands any day now. (Watch this post as we’ll add a link to the article as soon as it’s available on Rolling Stone’s site.)

Here’s a snapshot of the lead spread:
Rolling Stone Brain on Football

4 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Tommy Nobis
    January 27th, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    Tommy Nobis


    I’m still working at getting some “attention” from the NFL regarding my battle with the after effects resulting from blows to the head/helmet during my 11 years practicing (with Coach Van Brocklin, we “hit” a lot during practice too) and playing NFL football with the Atlanta Falcons. The concussions I experienced back then are causing me problems now. Example: I’ve lived in Atlanta, GA ever since I signed up to play ball with the Falcons back in the mid-60’s. One problem I’m experiencing is getting lost while driving through an area of town that I’m frequently in.


    Tommy Nobis
    Old #60
    Atlanta Falcons
    1966 – 1976

  2. George Visger
    January 27th, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

    George Visger


    I developed hydrocephalus and had my first of 9 NFL-caused VP shunt brain surgeries in 1981. Since then, I have become a student of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Though not some hot shot doctor like we were all blessed to have had while playing, I have learned a few tricks living 24/7 with TBI these last 32 years. We formed The Visger Group, TBI Consulting a couple years ago to consult strictly on head injury issues. You;ll be able to go to our website (which Robert is graciously working on for me) to get information on recovery.

    A few months ago, it was discovered during an EEG that I was having constant abnormal brain waves/mini seizures in my temporal lobes. Temporal lobes handle your memory. You may want to ask your doctor for an EEG. Also look into hyperbaric oxygen treatments, Omega3 fish oil, and natural antioxidants like blueberry, cranberry and acaiberry juices. I take my juices in capsules made by Dr Barry Sears. A couple of capsules are the equivalent of drinking several cups of juice a day.

    And double check to make sure any other prescriptions you’re on aren’t causing or exasperating your problems. Feel free to contact me at any time. My contact info is on our web.

    I wish you health,
    George Visger
    SF 49ers 80 & 81
    Survivor of 9-NFL Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
    Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits

  3. Ron Pritchard
    January 29th, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Ron Pritchard Bengals

    Thanks, Tommy, for speaking up about your brain injuries. Every time a former player speaks out about his brain condition from playing football, it will always help the rest of our football family! You will all agree that little or nothing would be done to make the game safer if it wasn’t for the lawsuits and constantly pushing the NFL for change. Change not only for the future players but change in attitude toward us old fellas who paved the way in establishing the NFL to what it is today.

    Last thing, if we continue to make the public aware of our dilemma (brain damage), I think that together we will succeed in our quest for help. Although I believe it will come out of the NFL’s fear of the damage to their reputation and not because it’s the right thing to do by them!

    Ron Pritchard
    Houston Oilers, Cincinnati Bengals
    1969 – 1977

  4. Dennis Homan
    January 29th, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    Dennis Homan

    I’m having the same problem that Tommy Nobis is having! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been lost driving to places I’ve been to a thousand times!

    Dennis Homan
    Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs
    1968 – 1972