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Report on players trying to cheat head exams not surprising

The story about NFL players going to extraordinary lengths to hide concussions gets placed in the not-totally-surprising-but-still-jolting file.

Players look for any and all avenues to keep playing because that's how they keep getting paid. They almost never retire without being forced to do so by an injury or an inability to get one of 32 teams to say, "You're hired."

And players are notorious for insisting that they're OK to return to the field even after suffering a blow to the head that knocks them unconscious or into a state of semi-conciousness. That's why helmets are taken away on the sideline, and the NFL stepped up measures to prevent concussed players from returning to action too soon.

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Apparently, though, the NFL might not be going far enough.

As Alex Marvez's piece reveals, players are known to have intentionally done poorly on initial base-line testing designed to provide measurements for key brain-injury indicators such as cognitive thinking, memory, concentration and balance. The intention is to help assure that follow-up testing after a concussion would provide better results, and therefore hasten their clearance to return to the field.

In a Twitter post Friday, former NFL safety Matt Bowen, who now writes for National Football Post, responded to Marvez's piece by writing: "Every offseason I would miss questions on the concussion test. Bad move looking back."

Even more startling was Marvez's reporting that some NFL players are known to have taken Ritalin, a drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), to mask concussion symptoms.

To call all of this troubling is an understatement. It is understood that players routinely battle through injuries for the sake of their job security and to avoid letting down teammates who are doing the same.

But this seems to be taking that mindset to a whole new level. Actually, it doesn't even feel like a part of any mindset but rather pure insanity. Have we not heard enough horror stories about the debilitating effects, and even worse, that concussions have caused former players?

The hope here is that, if the NFL wasn't already aware of some of the radical steps that players were taking to avoid being sidelined by concussions, the piece provides a serious reexamination of the methods used to determine when to allow concussed players back onto the field.

Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.

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