NFL Evolution  


Late Derrick Thomas still cherished by K.C. Chiefs fans


Tuesday's health and safety news from the world of sports:

* Kansas City Chiefs fans remembered the late Derrick Thomas as the NFL Films documentary "A Football Life: Derrick Thomas" airs at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday night on NFL Network, the Kansas City Star reported.

Ginger Hart hasn't worn her favorite Chiefs jacket in 17 years.

Hart and her husband, Bruce, live Blue Springs and were Chiefs season-ticket holders from 1989-2011. Hart wore her jacket week after week to Chiefs games until Thomas signed it at his Third and Long Foundation event in 1996.

The moment ink touched the pristine white fabric, Hart vowed to never wear the jacket again.

Ginger and Bruce took their kids, who were young at the time, to Crown Center for Thomas' Third and Long Foundation events around Christmas for a few years. Thomas would read Christmas books as the children circled around, and decorate ornaments and sign them.

Thomas co-founded the Third and Long Foundation with teammate Neil Smith. The foundation bills its mission as helping to "sack illiteracy" among inner-city youth in Kansas City.

"Derrick Thomas is the first NFL player to ever do it," Hart said. "He started it."

* The Huffington Post's Barbara Bruno wrote about the safety changes in all youth sports, including football, thanks to the Heads Up Football program. She talked to neurologist Dr. David Dodick, who is leading the Mayo Clinic's concussion initiative.

Life in the National Football League has changed when it comes to head injuries. The ownership is diligently taking steps to improve the rules for player protection. As Dr. Dodick says, "When it takes place in the NFL, it's the highest level and everyone else has to take it seriously."

Mark Verstegen brings his boundless optimism to bear on this issue: "Concussion awareness is structurally a part of the new CBA and a part of the game. [This emphasis on safety] will continue on as we transparently work together in the players' best interest."

Dr. Dodick is determined to establish tools for concussion identification that are "reliable, non-invasive, rapid and cost-effective" for everyone from Pop Warner to the NHL. The only sure way to determine the presence of a concussion is with imaging--hardly practical during a two-minute drive or on a junior high school hockey field.

* The Pittsburgh Business Times reported on the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, whose researchers developed the ImPACT concussion test. They take issue with what they call the untested C3 Logix concussion system.

* The Ogden Standard-Examiner looked at concussion trends among Utah high school football teams.

* The Pennsylvania Athletic Trainers Association announced that the state has more than doubled the number of high schools which have access to an athletic trainer.

* Researchers at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine announced their study found no age-related differences in post-concussion symptoms.

-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor



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