The NFL is committing $60 million to help develop technology and another $40 million to medical research as its introduces a new player health and safety initiative.
The league says over the next five years, the money will go towards medical research, primarily neuroscience developments in engineering, biomechanics, advanced sensors and material science with medical research helping to "advance progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of head injuries."
The NFL previously granted the National Institutes of Health $30 million designated for research in 2012.
In a letter on the “Play Smart. Play Safe” website, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the league is investing in research to explore new and effective ways to treat concussions.
"The NFL has been a leader on health and safety in many ways, and we’ve made some real strides in recent years," Goodell said. "But when it comes to addressing head injuries in our game, I’m not satisfied, and neither are the owners of the NFL’s 32 clubs. We can and will do better."
The league has been sued by 4,500 ex-players, claiming the NFL hid known concussion risks, leading to high rates of dementia, depression and even suicides. A $1 billion settlement was agreed to, but the family of a former player filed a last-second appeal, which will delay the payments for at least a few months.
Goodell said he believes the new initiative will change the game immediately in his appearance on NBC's Today Show on Wednesday.
"We have invested significantly in the past to further research, but we've also not waited on research," Goodell said. "We've made rule changes. We've made changes in our equipment. We've done things to improve the way the game is played."
Goodell says in the letter that the NFL has made 42 rules changes since 2002 to protect the players and added that the league is committed to hiring a physician to serve as Chief Medical Officer of the NFL. No person has been hired so far to fill that position.
"We know there will be challenges," Goodell said. "As we all learn more about concussions and take further steps to ensure our players are being properly cared for—and properly caring for themselves and their teammates—there may be an increase in reported concussions, as happened last season."
- Scooby Axson