A.J. Tarpley, a linebacker for the Buffalo Bills, announced his retirement from the NFL in April due to repeated concussions.
“After months of introspection, I am retiring from football,’’ Tarpley, 23, said on Instagram. “I suffered the third and fourth concussions of my career this past season and I am walking away from the game I love to preserve my future health.”
Tarpley’s case is not an isolated one. The NFL reports that there were 65 more reported concussions in 2015 compared to the year before. This increase comes after new protocols have been put in place to protect players from concussions.
This has brought outrage from some players who say football has become too dangerous.
“The NFL is not as on top of this as it should be because it denied facts [and] didn’t want to have to pay players who sued,” Desmond Conner, a sportswriter for the Hartford Courant, said. “I think it’s better than it was say 10 years ago, but it has a ways to go to cleaning this up, and the first step in doing that is acknowledging enough hasn’t been done.”
Casey Cochran, a University of Connecticut quarterback, quit his career due to the number of concussions he had since high school, Conner said. Cochran and his family agreed if he had one more concussion, he would stop playing, which he did.
In the 2015 NFL season, there were 271 concussions reported, according to the league.
From 2013 to 2014, there was a significant decline due to a concussion protocol instituted by the NFL, from 229 to 206 concussions, according to ESPN reports. There were 261 concussions in 2012, the NFL reported.
“A few years back, the NCAA was criticized for not having enforced concussion plans in place,’’ Conner said.
The new concussion protocol is a system created by the NFL in 2013 to protect the player, including a four-step recovery process when a player is examined in the locker room.
“Concussions have affected players because of athletes getting better education on them, as well as the symptoms and recovery process,’’ said Bob Howard, the assistant director of athletics for athletic training at UConn.
Football players are more aware of their surroundings and will keep a close eye on their teammates now, he said.
The major symptoms to watch for are amnesia, confusion, headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to light, nausea, slowed reaction times and fuzzy vision, Howard said.
In his retirement post, Tarpley said he thought it was the best decision for his own health.
“Helmet manufacturers were asked a year or so ago to design helmets that would better guard against the impact of blows to the head,’’ Conner said.
Howard said players, coaches and trainers are more paying attention to concussions now than ever before.
Anthony Zepperi graduated from Windsor High School and is a freshman at the University of Connecticut.