As part of its ongoing efforts to protect and support the health and safety of its players, the NFL has established several health committees to advise Commissioner Goodell, the NFL and the 32 teams of the NFL on health-related issues, policies, research and programs. These committees are comprised of independent experts from relevant scientific and medical fields who serve as volunteers.
Areas of focus for these health committees include medical grant distribution, player safety, injury data and safety equipment research, educational and advocacy outreach efforts, and treatment strategies to ensure best-practices are being utilized.
Head, Neck and Spine Committee
The NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee advises the NFL and NFL clubs on best practices for concussion prevention and management, as well as for avoidance or protection against other head, neck and spine injuries.
The Committee is led by Dr. Hunt Batjer, Lois C.A. and Darwin Smith Distinguished Chair, Neurological Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; and Dr. Richard G. Ellenbogen, Chairman, Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Washington School of Medicine.
This committee is responsible for advancing a pivotal mission which includes:
- Ensuring that NFL team medical staffs have ongoing access to information on the best technology and research on the prevention and treatment of head, neck and spine injuries;
- Studying injury data and equipment research to assist the NFL, its teams and its players in providing the safest environment for minimizing injuries to the head, neck and spine;
- Examining the latest treatment strategies and sharing information with medical staffs and players about best practices regarding treatment of injuries to the head, neck and spine.
The committee is focused on specific issues related to player health, but also on broad research, advocacy, and education about head, neck and spine injuries and their prevention and treatment. The six subcommittees of the Head, Neck and Spine Committee are as follows:
- Subcommittee for the Development and Management of Prospective Database for NFL Players: Developing a database to track player health. Led by Robert Harbaugh, M.D., FACS, Professor and Chair, Department of Neurosurgery, Penn State Hershey Medical Center.
- Subcommittee on Safety Equipment and Playing Rules: Evaluates performance of safety equipment for the protection of the head and neck. Led by Professor Kevin Guskiewicz, Ph.D., ACT, Chairman, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- Subcommittee on Former Players and Long-Term Effects of Brain and Spine Injury: Developing a long-term study of former players' health. Led by Dr. Mitchel S. Berger, Professor and Chairman, Department of Neurological Surgery, University of California San Francisco.
- Subcommittee on Brain and Spine Injury Research: Contains scientist members of the Department of Defense, Centers for Disease Control and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Evaluates new research avenues and grants. Research directions pursued range from traumatic brain injury (TBI)-related biomarkers, to novel imaging modalities and treatments of TBI. Led by Russell Lonser, M.D., Chief, Surgical Neurology Branch, National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
- Subcommittee on Advocacy and Education: Develops educational material and advocates for safety issues on behalf of all youth and professional athletes. Led by Stanley A. Herring, M.D., Clinical Professor, Departments of Rehabilitation Medicine, Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, and Neurological Surgery, Director, Spine, Sports and Orthopaedic Health, University of Washington School of Medicine, Co-Medical Director, Seattle Sports Concussion Program and Team Physician, Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners.
- Subcommittee on Return-to-Play Issues: Reviews and advises on return-to-play issues, including evaluation of sideline assessment tools and post-injury tools for concussion assessment in NFL players. The subcommittee was designed to standardize on-field neurological assessment as well as return-to-play guidelines. Led by Margot Putukian, M.D., Director of Athletic Medicine Services, Head Team Physician, Princeton University and Physician Representative, NCAA and American College of Sports Medicine.
The subcommittees also receive input from several independent consultants.
Injury and Safety Panel
The NFL Injury and Safety Panel, founded in 1993 and currently chaired by Elliott Hershman, M.D., Chairman, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Lenox Hill Hospital and Team Orthopedist, New York Jets, manages an injury surveillance system that reports on the types and severity of injuries sustained by players on a yearly basis. Data collected are used to assist team medical staff with injury prevention and treatment, as well as inform and guide the league on its health-related policies and injury prevention efforts. Additionally, the Competition Committee utilizes this information to inform the development of new rules and regulations that promote player safety. The Panel also provides valuable input on research proposals and grant allotment. The Panel meets quarterly, reporting to and making recommendations directly to Commissioner Goodell.
Foot and Ankle Subcommittee
The NFL Foot and Ankle Subcommittee, currently co-chaired by Michael Coughlin, M.D., Director, Coughlin Foot and Ankle Clinic, St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center and Former President, International Federation of Foot and Ankle Surgeons; and Robert Anderson, M.D., Team Physician, Carolina Panthers, Founding Member, OrthoCarolina Foot and Ankle Institute and Past President, American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, was founded in 2005 to collect and analyze pertinent injury data. The Subcommittee utilizes these data to inform its work with shoe and equipment manufacturers, technology providers, and turf and playing surface experts as well as equipment managers to encourage the development and effective use of protective equipment.
Since its inception, the Subcommittee has funded and continues to fund pivotal studies at the University of Virginia, Michigan State University and Boise State University that analyze how shoe and turf factors relate to foot and ankle injuries. The Subcommittee meets quarterly and reports its findings and recommendations to the Injury and Safety Committee.
Cardiovascular Health Subcommittee
The National Football League Cardiovascular Health Subcommittee was founded in 2004. Co-chaired by Dr. Robert Vogel, Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center; and Dr. Andrew Tucker, Head Team Physician, Baltimore Ravens, and Medical Director of Sports Medicine, MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, the Subcommittee includes nationally-recognized experts in cardiology and cardiovascular medicine, endocrinology, obesity, sleep medicine, hypertension and cardiovascular disease epidemiology. The group works to investigate the prevalence and risk factors for the development of premature cardiovascular disease including diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea and obesity in current and former NFL players. In addition, as part of their ongoing research initiative, the Subcommittee oversees the cardiovascular and obesity health screenings for retired NFL players that are conducted by The Living Heart Foundation and The Boone Heart Institute that is funded by the NFL Player Care Foundation. The Subcommittee has published research findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association and Sleep. The Subcommittee meets quarterly with monthly teleconferences.
Medical Grants Subcommittee
The Medical Grants Subcommittee is responsible for the quality assessment and grading of investigative research grant proposals submitted annually by outside scientific institutes to the NFL Foundation for funding. The Subcommittee's process includes an external review board of independent specialists who identify proposals that address the most pressing issues related to football health and safety. Previous reviewers have included representatives from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and Ohio State University College of Medicine, among others. To date, the Subcommittee has played a pivotal role in the funding of hundreds of research projects.
Here is a list of the members of the NFL's health and safety committees and subcommittees:
NFL Owners Health and Safety Advisory Committee
* John York, M.D., Chair, NFL Owners Health and Safety Advisory Committee; Co-Chairman, San Francisco 49ers
* Stephen Jones,Dallas Cowboys, Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Director of Player Personnel
* Ken Whisenhunt, former Head Coach
Player Safety Advisory Panel
* Ernie Accorsi,Former General Manager
* Antonio Freeman,Former Player
* Patrick Kerney, Former Player
* Oliver Luck, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, West Virginia University
* Steve Mariucci, Former Head Coach
Injury and Safety Panel
* Elliott Hershman,M.D., Chair, Injury and Safety Panel; Chairman, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Lenox Hill Hospital; Team Orthopedist, New York Jets
* Robert Anderson, M.D., Co-Chair, Foot and Ankle Subcommittee; Founding Member, OrthoCarolina Foot and Ankle Institute; Team Physician, Carolina Panthers; Past President, American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society
* John Bergfeld, M.D., Former Team Physician, Cleveland Browns; Former Chief of Sports Medicine, Cleveland Clinic
* James Bradley, M.D., Team Orthopaedist, Pittsburgh Steelers; Clinical Professor of Orthopaedics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
* Lawrence Brown, M.D., NFL Advisor, Drugs of Abuse
* Anthony Casolaro, M.D., Team Internist and Head Physician, Washington Redskins; Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine
* Michael Coughlin, M.D., Co-Chair, Foot and Ankle Subcommittee; Director, Coughlin Foot and Ankle Clinic, St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center; Former President, International Federation of Foot and Ankle Surgeons
* Robert Johnson, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Vermont School of Medicine
* John Lombardo, M.D., NFL Advisor, Performance Enhancing Agents
* Vandana Menon, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, Director of Clinical Epidemiology, Outcome Sciences
* Jeff Silverstein, M.D., Associate Dean of Research, Executive Director, Internal Review Board, Professor of Anesthesiology, Surgery and Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
* Kurt Spindler, M.D., Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
* Andrew Tucker, M.D., Co-Chair, Cardiovascular Health Subcommittee; Head Team Physician, Baltimore Ravens; Medical Director of Sports Medicine, MedStar Union Memorial Hospital; Former President, NFL Physician's Society
* Robert Vogel, M.D., Co-Chair, Cardiovascular Health Subcommittee; Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
* Edward Wojtys, M.D., Chief of Sports Medicine Service, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Michigan School of Medicine
* Anthony Yates, M.D., FACP, Team Physician, Pittsburgh Steelers; President, NFL Physicians Society; Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Co-Director, Corporate Health Program, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
* John York, M.D., ex-officio member; Co-Chairman, San Francisco 49ers; Chairman, NFL Owners Committee on Health and Safety
Injury and Safety Panel Medical Grants Subcommittee
* Russell Lonser, M.D., Head, Neck and Spine Research Grants
* Robert Vogel, M.D., Cardiovascular Disease Research Grants
* James Puffer, M.D., General Medical Grants; President and Chief Executive Office, American Board Of Family Medicine
* Kurt Spindler, M.D., Orthopedic and Musculoskeletal Research Grants
Head, Neck and Spine Committee
* H. Hunt Batjer, M.D., FACS, Co-Chair, Head, Neck and Spine Committee; Lois C.A. and Darwin Smith Distinguished Chair in Neurological Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
* Richard G. Ellenbogen, M.D., FACS, Co-Chair, Head, Neck and Spine Committee; Professor and Chairman, Residency Director, Department of Neurological Surgery, Theodore S. Roberts Endowed Chair, University of Washington School of Medicine; Co-Director, Seattle Sports and Spine Concussion Program
* Ernest Bates, M.D., Neurosurgeon, Chairman and CEO, American Shared Hospital Services
* Mitchel Berger, M.D., Chair, Subcommittee on Former Players and Long-Term Effects of Brain and Spine Injury; Professor and Chairman, Department of Neurological Surgery, Director, Brain Tumor Surgery Program, Director, Neurosurgical Research Centers, Brain Tumor Research Center, University of California, San Francisco
* Bradley F. Boeve, M.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic
* Kathleen Welsh-Bohmer, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Director, Bryan Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, Duke University
* John A. Butman, M.D., Ph.D., Staff Clinician, Radiology and Imaging Sciences, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center
* Randal P. Ching, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor and Director, Applied Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington
* Ron Courson, ATC, PT, NREMT-I, CSCS, Director of Sports Medicine, University of Georgia Athletic Association
* Henry Feuer, M.D., FACS, Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, Indiana University School of Medicine; Member, Indiana Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Fund Board; Team Neurosurgeon, Indianapolis Colts; Co-Medical Director, Indiana Sports Concussion Network
* Richard Gliklich, M.D., President, Quintiles Outcome, Inc.
* Kevin Guskiewicz, Ph.D., ATC, Chair, Subcommittee on Equipment and Playing Rules; Kenan Distinguished Professor, Chairman, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
* Robert Harbaugh, M.D., FACS, Chair, Subcommittee for the Development and Management of Prospective Database for NFL Players; Director, Penn State Institute of the Neurosciences, University Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Neurosurgery, Professor, Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics, Penn State Hershey Medical Center
* Andrew Hecht, M.D., Surgical Spine Consultant, New York Jets; Co-Chief, Orthopaedic Spine Surgery, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics and Neurosurgery, Mount Sinai Medical Center and School of Medicine
* Stanley Herring, M.D., Chair, Subcommittee on Advocacy and Education; Team Physician, Seattle Seahawks; Clinical Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Neurological Surgery, Director, Sports, Spine and Orthopaedic Health, University of Washington School of Medicine; Co-Medical Director, Seattle Sports Concussion Program
* Merril Hoge, Former Player; ESPN Analyst
* Joel Kramer, Psy.D., Clinical Professor of Neuropsychology in Neurology, Director, Memory and Aging Center Neuropsychology Program, University of California San Francisco
* Geoff Ling, M.D., Ph.D ., Professor and Vice-Chair, Department of Neurology, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences; Colonel, U.S. Army (ret.); Program Manager, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
* Russell Lonser, M.D., Chair, Subcommittee on Brain and Spine Injury Research; Chief, Surgical Neurology Branch, Program Director, Neurological Surgery Residency Training Program, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
* Thom Mayer, M.D., Medical Director, Studer Group; Medical Director, NFL Players Association; Founder and CEO, BestPractices, Inc.
* Michael McCrea,Ph.D., ABPP, Professor and Director, Brain Injury Research, Departments of Neurosurgery and Neurology, Medical College of Wisconsin
* Bruce Miller, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School; Head Orthopaedic Team Physician, University of Michigan Football; Team Physician, USA Ski Team; Team Physician, USA Rugby Team; Program Director, University of Michigan Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship
* Frank A. Pintar, Ph.D., Chief of Research, Department of Neurosurgery, Medical College of Wisconsin
* Margot Putukian, M.D., Chair, Subcommittee on Return-to-Play Issues; Director, Athletic Medicine Services, Head Team Physician, Princeton University; Associate Clinical Professor, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
* Raul Radovitzky, Ph.D., Associate Director, MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, Associate Professor, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT
* Daniel Resnick, M.D., Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
* Joseph Skiba, Equipment Director, New York Giants; Member, NFL Injury and Safety Panel, Foot and Ankle Subcommittee
* Erik E. Swartz, Ph.D., ATC, FNATA, Associate Professor or Athletic Training, Kinesiology Department, University of New Hampshire
* Joseph F. Waeckerle, M.D., Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine, University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Medicine; Editor Emeritus, Annals of Emergency Medicine
* Robert Watkins, III, M.D., Spine Surgeon; Co-Director of the Marina Spine Clinic; Founding Member, North American Spine Society
* Anthony Yates, M.D., FACP, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Co-Director, Corporate Health Program, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; President, NFL Physician Society; Team Physician, Pittsburgh Steelers
* J. Christopher Zacko, M.D., M.S., Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, Co-Director, Neurosciences ICU, Department of Neurosurgery, Penn State Hershey Medical Center
The Head Neck and Spine Committee receives input from several independent consultants:
* Robert C. Cantu, M.A., M.D., FACS, FAANS, FACSM, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, Boston University School of Medicine; Co-Director, Center for The Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Boston University Medical Center; Member/Co-Chair, Equipment and Rules Committee, NFLPA Mackey/White TBI Committee; Co-Founder and Chairman, Medical Advisory Board, Sports Legacy Institute; Chairman, Department of Surgery, Chief, Neurosurgery Service, Director, Service Sports Medicine, Emerson Hospital
* Joseph Maroon, M.D., FACS, Professor and Vice Chairman, Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
* David Meaney, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Bioengineering, Associate Director, Penn Center for Brain Injury and Repair, University of Pennsylvania
* Barry Myers, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, Professor of Biomedical Engineering with appointments in Orthopaedic Surgery, Anatomy and Business, Duke University; Director, Emerging Programs, Duke Translational Research Institute; Executive-in-Residence, Pappas Ventures
* Gunter Siegmund, Ph.D., P.Eng, President, Senior Engineer, MEA Forensic Engineers and Scientists; Adjunct Professor, School of Kinesiology, University of British Columbia
-- NFL Communications