03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

NFL Week 11: Upsets and Concussions Steal The Spotlight

The Steelers and the Bengals both lose to teams with terrible records.  Who saw that coming?

Fortunately, concussion safety and management have finally progressed to a level where the subject can be intelligently discussed.

NFL week 11 saw two marquee, starting quarterbacks go down with concussions: Arizona’s Kurt Warner and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger.  FYI- Both players have suffered multiple concussions in their pasts.

The first rule of concussion safety was adhered to. Neither player was allowed back into the game.  Concussions are often difficult to diagnose therefore even when a concussion is suspected the ‘day is over’ rule applies.

I have long been a proponent of the ‘7-day rule’ as it pertains to return to play after a concussion.  It was encouraging to watch ex-NFLer Merrill Hoge publicly support this concept on Monday morning’s ESPN SportsCenter. 

7-day rule: A player should be considered automatically ineligible for participation until the player has been free of ALL symptoms for 7 consecutive days. 

If and when the NFL institutes this simple rule, it will usher in a new era of concussion safety.  By automatically implementing this 7-day policy, the player, coaching staff and medical team will instantly be relieved of the constant pressure of answering the question ‘when can the athlete play’.  The responsible parties will then be allowed to properly focus on the health and well-being of the concussed athlete.

The NFL will also need to severely punish teams for not reporting concussion both real and suspected.  Players too must be held accountable.  If the player does not immediately report a potential concussion to the proper medical personnel, they will be ineligible to later file for benefits related to brain injuries sustained from their years in the NFL.

The NFL has a unique opportunity to lead by example.  It can choose to use its enormous platform to better protect their most valuable asset, the players, and simultaneously publicize the importance of proper concussion safety and management to athletes, parents and coaches of all levels.