What is the NFL Concussion Protocol

American footballConcussions remain a problem

When looking for a new popular figure, the National Football League achieved quite a coup in the spring of 2012.

"With the ninth pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select Luke Kuechly."

You had to get used to the pronunciation of the name, which comes from Alemannic and is written there K├╝chli. But not to his appearances on the field. The 26-year-old model athlete is the epitome of the aggressive, gripping linebacker who attacks the approaching enemy attackers with force. He is considered one of the best defensive players in the NFL.

"Wilson. Just got it away. There is Kuechly. Touchdown Carolina."

Donald Trump: "The referees are ruining the game"

He knew from the start what someone like him was putting at risk every week in the battle for the egg. He doesn't complain of injuries.

"It all happens very quickly. You don't expect it," he said after one of his many concussions. But when something happens, you trust the doctors.

So Kuechly keeps holding his head out. Like in the middle of the month against the Philadelphia Eagles, when he was stunned from the pitch after a collision. Last Sunday against Tampa Bay he got back into the fray. Because: Doctors had declared Kuechly fit for games as part of a league-wide program called "concussion protocol", which has existed since 2009 and is constantly being refined.

Quarterback Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens will sit out a little longer. He was seriously injured in an illegal helmet-first attack by an opponent on Thursday.

"Flacco rolling, rolling and running, the ball comes out, helmets off, flags are down."

Flacco not only suffered a concussion, but also a bloody tear on his ear. Symbol for the brutality that the "concussion protocol" cannot contain. And probably not supposed to. Too many fans of the game still enjoy the spectacle of a gladiatorial competition. The most famous advocate of the hard pace? Donald Trump, speaking to his partisans in Alabama the other day:

"I saw that last week, a beautiful attack. Boom. 15 yard loss of position penalty. The referees are ruining the game. They are ruining the game."

The number of reported concussions decreased from 275 to 244

After all: in the past season, the number of concussions reported by the NFL fell from 275 to 244. But that number is still higher than that of previous years. In other words, the "concussion protocol" functions primarily as a marketing tool. In fact, the league sees itself in a battle of retreat on several levels - mainly out of concern about legal consequences. Like the expensive out-of-court settlement with former professionals, for which the NFL club owners provided a billion dollars. The money is intended to benefit those affected for the treatment of long-term damage.

That sounds good, until - like the other day - you find out that more than 100 million dollars of this alone will go to the lawyers. Not the league's mistake, but part of the problem. Incidentally, the youngest and probably strongest threat germinates two age groups lower - among young footballers who play in so-called Pop Warner academies in their free time. The health risks of young players, and especially traumatic brain injuries, will soon be tried in a court in Los Angeles. With a verdict, the jury could take away the tough essence of the game even in the junior division. With far-reaching consequences for the popularity of the sport and the mental armament of the coming generations.

"Many don't realize just how much this crisis affects adolescents," says Kimberley Archie. "We have 2,500 NFL professionals and 10,000 college players. But over three million kids who play football. The numbers are astronomical. "

She is one of the most dedicated activists who has seen her son experience college football players suffering from the irreparable brain disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE for short.

Before the trial, however, those responsible for Pop Warner pretend that these young people have to live with the dangers. Those who play such tough sports simply accept that there are risks, is the point of view.