Adding Concussions to Madden 2012 Doesn’t Change Reality

Posted by J Dan in Culture, NFL Rules

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Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was concussed twice during last season

EA sports has apparently altered Madden so that in the 2012 edition of the game, players with concussions cannot return to games. They even simulate players being carted off the field. The game’s namesake, John Madden, has said that the he thinks the video game can be a teaching tool for kids to take concussions more seriously.

This is a part of the NFL’s overall “concussion awareness strategy” to create longterm change in the way that concussions are viewed.  I know I’m supposed to applaud this effort and any other effort aimed at combating head injuries in the NFL. The more we know about CTE, the more it becomes imperative that players protect their heads to the degree possible.

But the problem with using the Madden changes  to alter perception is that when the rules actually count-that is in a game, the incentive to ignore concussions is there and strong. Real NFL players aren’t just responding to a “culture” of trivializing concussions. In other words, players and coaches don’t just ignore concussions because it’s the macho thing to do (though that’s a major part of it). Putting concussed players back on the field is a response to the fickle nature of football.

Football is a sport where missing one game can cost you the rest of your career. Where losing one critical game can cost a coach his job. When one opportunity to go deep into the playoffs maybe the only opportunity a player gets in his career.

Players return to the field not because they don’t take concussions seriously but because they DO take their jobs and livelihood seriously. A player’s response to a concussion can be the difference between continuing a job as a starting lineman and suddenly being thrust in the the life of a journeyman. And players who have lots of concussions on record become less desirable signees for other teams who are all trying to be more sensitive about the condition.

I don’t oppose the changes to the Madden the game. It’s probably a good thing if kids grow up understanding that the NFL players experience real risks. Growing up, I thought of football players as indestructible action figures, never stopping to think that those were real knock outs and injuries that I witnessed during the season. And certainly, players who play with concussions are praised by a culture that values toughness above all else. It’s time to instill an appreciation for health that is just as strong.

But if the NFL wants to change how concussions are handled by players, coaches, and teams, they have to start with helmet technology and factor in the economics of the game and go from there. Not to mention doing a better job of encouraging players to have a Plan B early so that they don’t have to drag themselves onto the gridiron injured because they believe they  have no other option. Until then, it’ll be hard for me to get excited about band-aids that, even if effective, would put the “long” in “longterm” before it had impact-especially if that impact is virtually negated once the player puts down the game controllers and steps onto the field.


About J Dan
Football-obsessed Writer and Blogger. I'm the Goodwitch of the NFL.
  • and1grad

    Not to mention, most people just turn the “injuries” option off in the game anyway. This is a “Mommy kiss it and make it better” except its a concussion.

  • DKC

    I think the best way to combat concussions and the stigma that it’s not a real “injury” is through education. Unfortunately because of the nature of football, it is impossible to play the game without the risk. While it may be possible through newer technology to minimize the risk, when one 250 plus pound man is launching himself at another 250 plus pound man at full speed, the risk for concussions is going to be high. Like the author states, the NFL needs to do a better job of educating players as they come into the league in addition to the steps they are taken to prevent concussed players from returning to the games.

    If I feel like all I have in my life is football, I’m not going to let a “non-injury” keep me off of the feel.

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