NEW YORK (May 2, 2007) -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who disclosed last week that the NFL will make baseline neuropsychological tests mandatory for the 2007 season, is requiring all team medical personnel to attend a meeting on concussions next month.
NFL spokesman Joe Browne said that Goodell has ordered all 32 teams to send its doctors and trainers to a June 19 meeting in Chicago for the first league-wide concussion summit.
"At no time should competitive issues override medical issues," Goodell said last week. "Safety comes first."
Under Goodell's new policy, all players will be required to take a baseline neuropsychological test -- determining cognitive abilities, memory and motor skills -- by the start of the 2007 season. That way, when a player has a concussion, he can be tested to determine what neurological changes have taken place.
Some players have had baseline tests recently. Under the new policy, those players will not require another test. But those who haven't had a test will be required to have one. NFL officials said some teams administer those tests on a regular basis, while other teams administer the tests only after a concussion.
Goodell has acknowledged players often fight the medical staff to get back into games after suffering head injuries.
"We're protecting the players against the players," he said.
Concussions among NFL players have drawn attention in recent months. A forensic pathologist who studied the brain tissue of Andre Waters after his suicide last November concluded Waters had brain damage resulting from multiple concussions during 12 years as an NFL safety.
In addition, the Boston Globe and New York Times reported in February that 34-year-old Ted Johnson, who spent 10 years as a linebacker with the New England Patriots, shows early signs of Alzheimer's disease.
Johnson said he began to deteriorate in 2002 with a concussion during an exhibition game against the New York Giants. He said he had another concussion four days later after coach Bill Belichick prodded him to participate in a full-contact practice, even though he was supposed to be avoiding hits.