More transparent than in the past, the NFL now publishes injury statistics. In a sport whose dangerousness still divides American public opinion, the year 2022 seems to show a positive evolution with regard to injuries.
Over the entire preseason and regular season, the number of injuries fell by 5.6%. The black point, according to Jeff Miller (executive vice-president of the NFL, interviewed by ESPN this Friday), remains the phases of special teams and in particular kickoffs and punts, for which the frequency of injury is “disproportionate” compared to to the other phases of play. New modifications to these phases of play could be discussed during the off-season.
The major subject is of course that of concussions. In 2022, the number of concussions during the regular season increased by 18% compared to the previous year. With 149 concussions in 271 matches, 55% of matches are therefore affected by concussions. Sills says an average of 1.6 players are assessed for a concussion each game, a number that’s been growing every year.
According to Dr. Allen Sills (NFL Chief Medical Officer), this increase is mainly due to better detection of signs of concussion and more rigid protocols, in particular decided after the misadventures of Tua Tagovailoa.
One of the satisfactions of the league is also the big drop in the number of concussions during training, attributed in particular to the obligation for certain positions (offensive and defensive lines, linebackers and tight ends) to wear Guardian Caps (additional protection above the helmet) during training camps. Only 25 concussions have been recorded this summer, the lowest total for 8 years. The NFL could then extend these Guardian Caps other positions and extend its use beyond training camp only, according to Sills.
However, the road remains long for the league, in particular to change mentalities about concussions. No offense to Tom Brady.