Concussion and head trauma awareness is one of the biggest issues facing the NFL right now, and on Tuesday the Ravens announced a partnership with MedStar Sports Medicine to address the understanding of concussions and how to prevent them in youth sports.
The Ravens, MedStar and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will work together to support Maryland state legislation to protect student-athletes from the dangerous and potentially life-threatening effects of concussions.
Ravens President Dick Cass, team physician Andrew Tucker, linebacker Jameel McClain and MedStar Union Memorial Hospital President Bradley Chambers all participated in Tuesday's press conference to announce the agreement.
"It's something that we're concerned about," Cass said during the press conference. "And it's not just directed at youth football, it's directed at all youth sports. We're trying to raise concussion awareness in our market, in the greater Baltimore area, about the dangers of concussions and how to treat them and how to recognize them."
The specifics of the joint partnership include:
- A $25,000 grant from the Ravens to MedStar Sports Medicine each year for the next five years to support community outreach and baseline testing. These grants will subsidize the cost of administering baseline testing to student-athletes in the area.
- The distribution of CDC concussion fact sheets and "clipboard" packets to more than 150 high school football coaches and athletic directors in the area.
- A PSA featuring McClain and Tucker focusing on concussion awareness and prevention.
The partnership with the Ravens and MedStar comes at a time when the NFL is making efforts within its own league and with youth sports across the country to spread information about concussions.
"It's certainly a big issue for the NFL," Cass said. "You read the articles about it and you read what some parents are saying about not wanting their children to play football. In that sense it is a big issue and it's obviously a big issue for our players right now. We want to make sure that when they're finished playing football they can have healthy, productive lives. So we're concerned about it at that level as well.
"It is a big concern and that's why I think we, the Ravens, and the NFL in its entirety is focused on this problem and trying to deal with it."
A key part in raising awareness about concussions is to simply educate the coaches, parents and players about the symptoms they should detect during sporting events.
Also, part of the responsibility falls on the players themselves to change the culture and understand that a head injury is not something to shake off and play through.
"In sports we have the mentality of being a warrior and toughing it out," McClain said. "I was always told as a kid, 'If it's not broken, you can go.' But when it comes to the head, you never know. So if you're dinged up or if you're dizzy, you have to sit yourself out, you have to be aware."