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NFL wants laws on concussions

WASHINGTON — The NFL wants all 50 states and the District of Columbia to pass legislation that could help cut down on concussions suffered by young players.

A quicker route would be federal legislation, and the NFL backs a bill pending in Congress. But the Republican-led House of Representatives is unlikely to support that kind of federal role in local matters. So the league sees a bigger opening at the state level.

The league said it has an obligation to use its clout to help cut down on concussions among America's youth. But it also wants to keep a large pool of potential players healthy.

"We're fortunate that we have more than 3.4 million young athletes playing football, and we want to continue to keep our player source strong and keep it large," said Joe Browne, an adviser to commissioner Roger Goodell.

The legislation the league favors is modeled on Washington state's "Zackery Lystedt Law," named for a middle school football player who suffered brain damage in 2006 after he had a concussion and returned to the game.

That law requires coaches to remove any player who shows signs of a concussion and bars the player from competing again until cleared by a licensed health care professional trained in concussion evaluation and management. Nine states, including Washington, have passed such laws, according to the NFL.

More concussions: Starting next season, the league said it will use a new sideline test to determine if players have sustained a concussion. It added details will be disclosed Friday.

Player safety: Falcons president Rich McKay said the league's competition committee is discussing ways to make the game safer but has not come up with a proposal. The committee met for a second day in Indianapolis. They have two more days of meetings scheduled there then will meet again next month in Florida.

Labor talks: Four members of the NFL Players Association executive committee — Broncos safety Brian Dawkins, Colts center Jeff Saturday and Chiefs linebackers Mike Vrabel and Brian Waters — participated in mediated negotiations, the sixth straight day of talks between the league and union. In all, nine of the 11 members of the committee have attended a session. Another session is scheduled for today. All participants have been abiding by a request of the federal mediator, George Cohen, not to discuss the talks publicly. So there are no details or reports of progress.

Colts: General manager Bill Polian said negotiations on a new contract with quarterback Peyton Manning are progressing. "I would say we are simply moving ahead at a steady pace, but nothing is imminent," he said. The Colts previously designated Manning an exclusive franchise player, meaning he cannot negotiate with other teams. And owner Jim Irsay said last week he offered Manning a deal that would eclipse Tom Brady's record for annual average salary. In September, the Patriots quarterback signed a four-year, $72 million contract, giving him a league-record $18 million average.

Jaguars: Tight end Marcedes Lewis was designated a nonexclusive franchise player, but he and the team will continue to negotiate a long-term deal. Lewis is guaranteed a one-year contract worth the average of the top five salaries at his position, about $7.3 million. He can talk to other teams, who would have to give up two first-round picks to sign him. Also, defensive end Paul Spicer signed a one-day contract so he can retire as a member of the team. He spent nine seasons with the Jaguars (2000-08), played with the Saints in 2009 and sat out last season.

Steelers: Linebacker LaMarr Woodley signed the one-year offer worth about $10 million made to him as a franchise player. The signing doesn't prevent the sides from signing a long-term deal.

Texans: Running back Arian Foster had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, the Associated Press reported. He and the team declined comment, but AP called it "minor" surgery.

NFL wants laws on concussions 02/23/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 10:15pm]
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