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NFL Commissioner Speaks to Youth Football Players About Safety

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Before the New England Patriots took on the New York Jets this past Sunday night, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hosted roughly 200 youth-football players, parents, and coaches at a forum devoted to player safety.

"All of you are football players and all of you love the game of football, but it is also important no matter what sport you play that you play it safely," said the commissioner to the players. "That means understanding the rules; that means understanding your equipment; and that means understanding your body to make sure when you are not feeling well that you get the proper medical care."

Goodell was joined by a slew of NFL personnel, including the owner of the Jets, Woody Johnson; NFL Vice President of Player Engagement and former Philadelphia Eagle Troy Vincent; and NFL Head Neck and Spine Committee Member Dr. Margot Putukian.

The panel focused on a number of NFL player safety initiatives, with a heavy focus on concussions. In his opening address, Goodell said that he "didn't want to bore" the players with details of the NFL's recent bargaining negotiations, but highlighted the fact that the NFL would be spending $100 million over the next 10 years on concussion research.

The commissioner also encouraged the young athletes to report injuries when they occur, saying that it is "stupidity" for players to try and brush off injuries. "You guys want to make sure that you are out there and that you understand when there is a serious injury that you raise your hand and you tell people," he said.

Goodell appeared very pleased by the day's events after the panel wrapped up.

"It was great," he said. "The kids had questions. They were interested. People are starting to understand these concussions when they happen. They're also into prevention."

In recent years, the NFL has become one of the leaders in the promotion of youth-concussion awareness (despite a checkered past with concussions before 2009).

"Concussions are a big topic, I think, in large part because we have made it a large topic," Goodell said after the event Sunday. "We have increased the awareness of concussions, and I think that's good for everyone who plays not just football but anyone that plays any sport. It happens in other sports."

Last month, Goodell emphasized his desire that every U.S. state adopt a youth-concussion law "sooner rather than later."

"We recognize that we have an opportunity to make a difference by taking the lead in encouraging health and safety awareness at all levels of football and in all youth sports," Goodell said at the 2011 Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

Photo: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addresses a group of youth-football players, parents, and coaches about player safety before Sunday's game between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. (Al Pereira/New York Jets)

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