The concussion stories have filled NFL newsfeeds for years, as more and more people come to understand just how dangerous the injuries can be. That has led to the league examining its processes and taking some different steps, and that is something the Indianapolis Colts are exploring this offseason too.
The Indianapolis Star’s Zak Keefer wrote a good article about Scott Peters, a former NFL player who wound up in mixed martial arts, and the work he is now doing to help educate football players about how to be safer when playing. The basics of Peters’ approach is to help players learn to use their hands instead of using their heads, which can be hard to do for players who have been accustomed to leading with their helmets for all their lives. But it’s a worthwhile endeavor, and Peters says that it actually is more effective on-the-field too.
Peters has worked with the Redskins, Browns, Cowboys, Cardinals, and Bengals, and last week the Colts brought Peters in to work with their players for a few days. Wrote Keefer:
The aim was both noble and ambitious: Save the sport of football.
That pursuit led Peters to West 56th Street last week, where he shared his Safe Football gospel with Indianapolis Colts coaches and players. He worked with the offense and defense for three days, running through demonstrations, answering inquiries, imploring players to think differently, work differently, perform differently.
Whether it works or not, it’s a worthwhile venture for the Colts to pursue. Concussions are undeniably an issue in football, and while some of that is simply the nature of playing a contact sport, it’s likely that many concussions could be prevented by better techniques. That’s what Peters is after, as he’s trying to help players use their hands rather than their heads.
The Colts, like every other team, have had a number of players affected by concussions over the past few years, most notably quarterback Andrew Luck, who last year missed a game due to a concussion. But the most extreme example was Tyler Varga, who suffered a pretty serious concussion in 2015 that led to him retiring from football last offseason because, as he said, “it wasn’t worth the risk.”
While Varga’s decision to prioritize his health is to be applauded, what the Colts and Scott Peters are striving toward is helping people understand how to prevent those concussion before they happen. That’s a really good thing, and hopefully it will pay off.
Of course, it may be difficult to change things overnight, especially since players have been doing it a certain way for so long (plus, something Keefer noted, is the lack of practice time in the offseason to work on it). But if Peters can help change the mindset, that would hopefully begin to produce results eventually. Either way, exploring how to help prevent concussions is a worthwhile effort for the Colts to explore.