“Are the brain injuries actually more severe now than they were five years ago? Or is that players simply being held out longer for the same injury? That we can’t tell from the data,” David said. “My guess is it’s both, but how much of each factor, I don’t know.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, who said the league will look at the study’s findings, attributed the longer absences for players with concussions to more caution in the treatment of those types of injuries.
“We do know that the game is safer now, but we still have work to do. We continue to work hard on many fronts to make the game better and safer for our sport at all levels,” McCarthy wrote in an email. “Our ongoing efforts include making rule changes designed to take dangerous techniques out of the game and also improving medical care to properly manage and treat concussions and raise awareness of their seriousness.”
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AP Sports Writers Joseph White, Dennis Waszak Jr., Joe Kay, R.B. Fallstrom and Rob Maaddi contributed to this report.