About Concussion Watch
Every week in the National Football League, a player is sidelined by a head injury. In some cases, their symptoms are clearly visible and they exit the game. Other times, less obvious warning signs can mean a missed diagnosis and a return to the field. Either way, research indicates that the long-term health effects of such injuries — including memory loss, depression and even dementia — can pose problems for players long after retirement.
Starting in 2009, the NFL was taken to task in a series of congressional hearings for its refusal to acknowledge that players could face dangers posed by concussions. The league has responded by adopting new rules designed to better protect players, and by stepping up outreach to show it takes the issue seriously.
Concussion Watch is an effort to monitor the NFL’s response to the persistent risk of head injury in professional football. To do so, FRONTLINE has partnered with ESPN to track which players are being removed from games after a hit to the head — and which players are not — and to keep score of how long they are kept from the field following a concussion.
The players included in Concussion Watch are those who have officially been listed on the NFL injury report with either a concussion or a head injury during the 2012-2013 season. The database, which has been built using data from the ESPN Stats & Information group, begins with the first week of the season, but also includes five officially reported head injuries and one concussion from the preseason.
The project will continue next season, and culminate with a full-length FRONTLINE documentary reported by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, and produced and directed by Tom Jennings. Along the way, we will post online companion stories about head injuries in the NFL, and invite fans to help report questionable hits and possible concussions.
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