Passing plays resulted in more concussions than any other type of play based on a video review of more than 450 head injuries suffered over the last two NFL seasons.
On Thursday, Barry Wilner of the Associated Press noted the study overseen by NFL Engineering Committee chairman Dr. Jeff Crandall found 44 percent of concussions came on passes. The next highest was running plays at 30 percent.
“We’ve seen a shift,” Crandall said. “Fifteen to 20 years ago we would have found a much higher relative percentage of helmet to helmet, as much 70 percent. Through a number of changes in rules it has altered how the game is played and reduced helmet-to-helmet hits. We see that helmet to shoulder and ground are larger percentages.”
Review of the remaining concussions showed 21 percent on special teams returns, four percent on sacks and one percent on field-goal attempts.
Meanwhile, cornerback was the position most frequently impacted by head injuries, representing 22 percent of the total concussions. Wide receiver was next at 15 percent, followed by linebacker and offensive line at 11 percent apiece.
Crandall suggested the video review could help in the development of position-specific helmets to better protect players from the type of plays that usually lead to their position’s concussions.
“We think it is an opportunity we can draft forward,” he said. “We’re going to study later with sensors and reconstructions to determine the severity, the locations, the impact sources. If you can think of tailoring or customizing a helmet for those particular impacts and injuries, that’s is an opportunity.”
It’s a crucial topic for the future of professional football after the JAMA Network released results of a study in July that showed 99 percent of 111 former NFL players studied were diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease.
In August, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell downplayed the long-term health concerns associated with playing football.
“The average NFL player lives five years longer than you,” Goodell told reporters. “So their lifespan is actually longer and healthier. And I think because of all the advancements, including the medical care, that number is going to even increase for them.”
The AP report noted the video review is part of a $60 million “Engineering Roadmap” the league has created to better understand head injuries within the sport.