NFLPA spokesperson George Atallah joined Bull & Fox to talk about possible future discussions on rule changes including expanding the playing field, the problem with players not reporting injuries in hopes to avoid getting their position taken, player’s complaints with personal foul penalties and what should be enforced, the change in helmets in hopes to avoid concussions, whether the players and owners can come together on differing issues, the need to help former players with their health situations, the increasing concern over PEDs, whether players should be able to enter the NFL draft at an earlier age and more.
Read the highlights of the interview here:
On if there is an issue with NFL players not trusting their team doctors:
“I think it’s a big problem. The players obviously have shared their concerns, through a survey that we conducted internally, of a good number of active players in the NFL that every team participated in. It shows kind of the problem we have as it relates to the tension between the team, and the player, wanting to get back on the field as quickly as possible as opposed to making sure that he heals (properly).”
On players complaining about rules that are created to help promote player safety:
“I think you see a lot of things done in the name of health and safety these days that punish players for playing a certain way, which is how they were taught to play, by coaches in the youth ranks and even in the NFL. Defensive players haven’t been shy about stating their concerns that they’re being singled out for big hits and things that they were taught to do. But those rules are in place, and we agree with them, to keep the player’s safety in mind. You definitely don’t want players out there looking to hurt another player.”
On getting players to adapt their style of play to abide with the new player safety rules:
“It’s very hard, especially with how fast the game is played these days. It’s hard to regulate that type of play. We believe it’s really important to start at the youth level, teaching players how to tackle properly.”
On players hiding concussions in fear of losing their job, like 49ers QB Alex Smith:
“The only positive thing about the Alex Smith situation, is that this new CBA has mechanisms in place so that he’s going to be better off in the long-term. Whatever situation he’s in with his job, he’s obviously a playoff winning quarterback, and nobody likes to see a player lose his job due to injury regardless what the injury is. But this CBA is designed so every player is better off in the long-term, well after they’re done playing. The benefits that the players in the NFL will be able to receive far outweigh those of short-term job security.”
On what the NFLPA is doing to help benefit former players and their long-term health:
“In the new CBA that we recently signed, there is $650 million dollars of newly created benefits for former players. Increased pensions, brand new neuro-cognitive benefits for players that are having long-term impact from concussions… It’s never going to be enough because we know what the inherent risks are.
On if HGH testing will be implemented in the NFL in the near future:
“We’re close enough in the sense that the league fully understands our position on what a fair HGH test is. We can’t be in a situation where the Cleveland Indians players have a better HGH testing protocol than the Cleveland Browns players do. We’ve said to them on a number of occasions, most recently right before the Super Bowl, if they wanted to adopt MLB’s HGH testing protocol, we would do that yesterday. I think you’ll see some movement on that in the next couple weeks, at least I hope. I know our players want HGH testing, but I also know they want a fair system that goes along with it.”