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NFL revamping players' pain management and prevention programs

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NFL revamping players' pain management and prevention programs

NEW YORK -- The NFL and the players' union have two new agreements to address player health in the areas of pain management/prescription medications, and behavior well-being.

The joint agreements, announced Monday, are designed to lead to advancement and understanding of dealing with pain and to improve potential treatments. The league and union also will add to programs already established in education, prevention, and overall behavioral health throughout the league.

"I was hired two years ago and when I was hired I was asked about areas of concern," said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's medical chief. "And I said these were two areas I saw from my knowledge of someone taking care of athletes for over two decades. I felt a real need there."

"We've been working together with the players' union to come up with something that would work proactively for both. We have the same goal, to take care of the whole player and in a holistic way, and to focus on prevention."

Among the stipulations in the pain management area will be formation of a committee of medical experts appointed by the league and union that will establish uniform standards for club practices and policies in pain management and the use of prescription medication by players. The committee also will conduct research concerning pain management and alternative therapies.

That committee will receive periodic reports from a newly developed prescription drug monitoring program that will monitor all prescriptions issued to NFL players by club physicians and unaffiliated physicians.

Each NFL club must appoint and pay for a pain management specialist before next season.

All this builds on the programs in place.

"We've had an electronically submitted health record for each club in place for a number of years," Sills said. "Medical providers enter the prescriptions they have given to the players. Periodically, our medical advisory committee and the NFL Physicians Society would issue white paper guidelines around strategies. The important change here is obviously it creates a committee tasked with overseeing our educational efforts -- the best practices around pain management."

All 32 teams now must retain by the start of training camp a behavioral health team clinician focused on supporting players' emotional and mental health and well-being. The old bromide of "toughing it out" when someone has such issues has long been discarded, Sills said.

"This is not novel to the NFL or to sports," Sills added. "It applies across all levels of society at all age groups and walks of life, and we know these are issues we need to address."

While the NFL and NFLPA have had previous joint programs in these health areas, Sills and NFLPA President Eric Winston note these initiatives are a major step forward in medical care.

"These agreements are positive developments for our membership as they will provide new and important resources to help players and their families," Winston said. "Our union has always advocated for advancements in health and safety and we think this work with the NFL is another important step to improve care for NFL players."



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Roger Goodell releases statement condemning racism, admits NFL was wrong not listening to players

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Roger Goodell releases statement condemning racism, admits NFL was wrong not listening to players

Over the past couple of weeks, several athletes and many others have made their voices heard on the racial injustices in America following the death of George Floyd.  A number of NFL stars released a joint video statement late Thursday evening, requesting the league to speak up more on the matter.

The NFL had previously released a statement last Saturday expressing condolences to the families of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, but it didn't speak on the racism that black Americans are constantly faced with.

On Friday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a strong response to his players, condemning racism and admitting the league was wrong in not listening to its players earlier.

"We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people," Goodell said. "We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest."

Below is a transcript of Goodell's entire statement:

It has been a difficult time in our country, in particular, black people in our country. First, my condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and all the families that have endured police brutality. We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter. I personally protest with you and want to be a part of the much needed change in this country. Without black players there would be no National Football League. And the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality, and oppression of black players, coaches, fans, and staff. We are listening, I am listening, and I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices, and others on how we can move forward together for a better and more united NFL family.

These issues were first brought to the NFL forefront in 2016, when ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled for the national anthem as a way to peacefully protest and raise awareness for racial injustice in America. Kaepernick has not played a snap since he parted ways with the 49ers following that season.

Redskins running back Adrian Peterson said Friday that he, along with many of his peers, plan to kneel for the anthem when the season returns this fall.

Goodell's statement, which directly addressed police brutality and racial injustices in America, is a sign the NFL is moving in the right direction regarding these issues.



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WATCH: Ron Rivera returns to Redskins Park for first time since March

WATCH: Ron Rivera returns to Redskins Park for first time since March

For the first time in over 11 weeks, head coach Ron Rivera and several members of the coaching staff returned to Redskins Park on Friday.

The Redskins' video crew documented the staff's return to the Ashburn facilities, as the team had several safety precautions in place for the coaches when they arrived.

In the video, you can see Rivera and several staff members go through a temperature check, making sure each one of them was healthy enough to report. There video also showed there are plenty of hand sanitizer stations throughout the lobby of the facility, too.

Additionally, everyone shown in the video was wearing a mask, including a pretty sweet custom one for the head coach.

Rivera's mask featured the head coach's signature 'Riverboat Ron' logo, which is also his profile picture on Twitter.

Friday marked the first time in almost three months that Rivera was allowed to report to the Redskins facilities, as the league sent out a memo to all 32 clubs on March 19 that all facilities must close due to the coronavirus pandemic.


The NFL announced on May 19 that teams were allowed to reopen facilities should state and local regulations allow it, but head coaches were not permitted. Earlier this week, the league finally allowed head coaches to return as early as Friday. 

The league has yet to announce a date when players are allowed to return to team facilities. As it stands now, only those players who are injured or undergoing medical treatment are allowed in the building.

As Rivera returned to work, he explained he only has one thing in mind as he plans for the few months ahead.

"The biggest thing is starting to get everything set for training camp," Rivera said. "We have everything ready just in case we get the opportunity for some work with the players before the end of OTAs and minicamp, but the biggest thing we can do now is start to get ready for training camp."

When Redskins training camp will begin has not formally been announced yet, but the team's annual fall camp is expected to begin at some point towards the end of July. Washington will not be traveling to their typical Richmond location, as the NFL announced earlier this week that all training camp activities will be held at each team's respective facilities.