NFL commissioner promises enhanced safety

Feb. 1, 2013 at 9:19 PM
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NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday professional football would continue to make changes in the game where needed to protect the health of players.

Goodell responded to growing concerns among current and former players that the sport could eventually disappear if it becomes too dangerous to play.

One member of the Baltimore Ravens, who will be taking part in the Super Bowl on Sunday, has recently said he thinks football will cease to exist within the next 30 years.

A class action suit against the league filed by players seeks damages for head trauma suffered during their careers. The risk of brain damage drew attention again during the past year when former San Diego linebacker Junior Seau took his own life and left a note asking that his brain be examined.

At his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference, Goodell said the NFL would "pioneer new approaches to player health and safety and emphasize prevention as well as treatment."

He said the league's competition committee will study the possibility of "eliminating certain dangerous, low blocks, further taking the head out of the game, and expanding the standards for the quality of our playing fields."

Goodell announced neurosurgeons would be added to a list of medical personnel available at each game.

Fines and suspensions, he said, would increase for players whose disregard for the rules leads to injuries.

"I think we're going to have to continue to see discipline escalate, particularly on repeat offenders," he said. "It's not just the defenseless player that's being protected, it's the person doing the striking.

"Suspension gets through to them."

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