NFL Evolution  


San Francisco 49ers' Donte Whitner wants hits to be reviewable


Friday's health and safety news from the world of football:

* Donte Whitner told that hits to the head in the NFL should be reviewable, as they are in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision games. The San Francisco 49ers safety has said he wants to change his legal name to "Hitner."

His penalty Monday night was critical. It was in the red zone and came on third down. Had he not been penalized, the Falcons would have been forced to attempt a field goal.

Instead, the new life led to a touchdown that gave Atlanta a 7-3 lead. Whitner was asked if he thinks such plays should be reviewable.

"Yes, they should," he said. "They do in college. Why not in the National Football League? Let's get it right. ... Too many times a play looks bad and the official throws the flag, but it ends up being a clean play. ... Just because it's a powerful hit doesn't mean it's an illegal hit."

Whitner said he will continue to strive to hit cleanly. He said he thinks about being clean as he makes hits.

"Even talking to [defensive backs coach Ed] Donatell and [defensive coordinator Vic Fangio], you have to have a poster boy in the National Football League that can still hit hard and do it the right way and show people how to do it the right way," Whitner said. "And even if it looks bad, it's not bad."

* The Denver Post reported that 15-year NFL wide receiver Brandon Stokley has decided to retire after recent concussions.

The former Broncos slot receiver has played his last game. After talking it over with Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome three weeks ago, Stokley knew he was finished playing. Placed on season-ending injured reserve because of his latest concussion, Stokley's retirement will become official when the Ravens' season ends. He no doubt could have played again next season, because dependable slot receivers in the NFL are in short supply.

But Stokley is one of the few who is retiring on his own terms.

"I'm glad I played this year because now I know I'm done," Stokley said Thursday in the living room of his Castle Rock home. "Had I not played this year, I would have always felt I could have kept playing. I still know I can play, but my body just can't go through it anymore."

* University of Minnesota coach Jerry Kill is debating whether to coach from the sideline or the press box for his team's bowl game after suffering epileptic seizures during games this season, The Star Tribune reported.

* Dezeen Magazine wrote about a 3-D printing pen that could replicate knee ligaments in athletes' knees.

* The Associated Press reported on the internal memo to the NFL's Health and Safety Advisory Committee that said knee injuries are not on the rise.

* Pysch Central reported on a study in the journal "Neuropsychology Review" that said computerized neurocognitive testing for concussions, while widely used in amateur and professional sports, is not supported by research that proves its effectiveness

-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor



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