EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Legislation for federal funding to help protect student athletes from concussions got the National Football League‘s backing Monday in the shadow of the stadium where the Super Bowl will be played this weekend.
NFL Senior Vice President Adolpho Birch joined two New Jersey lawmakers in support of legislation drafted following the 2008 death of a New Jersey high school football player.
The proposal by Sen. Robert Menendez and Rep. Bill Pascrell involves national concussion guidelines currently under development for schools and youth sport programs by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The legislation would authorize a 5-year grant program to bring those guidelines to school sports programs nationwide.
The bill would authorize $5 million in first-year funding, with additional funds to be provided as necessary for the remaining four years. It would be used to help states train athletic staff and help ensure schools have adequate medical staff coverage and can implement the CDC guidelines expected to be established by next year.
Birch, the NFL’s senior vice president of labor policy and government affairs, joined the lawmakers for a news conference at an East Rutherford high school a little over a mile from MetLife Stadium, which will host the Super Bowl on Sunday. Several student athletes from the Harry P. Becton Regional High School’s Wildcats football squad — a few of whom spoke about concussions suffered during play — joined them at the podium.
“In the NFL, player health and safety is a priority for us,” Birch said. “But we need to be clear that it’s not just our players who we’re thinking about, and who we’re worried about, it’s all players, it’s athletes at all levels, in all sports. We believe that youth sports should be a particular focus.”