NFL's concussion protocol gets tougher


Changes to the NFL's concussion protocol will allow for heftier fines and a potential loss of draft picks against teams found to be in violation of the new measures.

The multi-tiered punishment system, effective this season, can result in a fine of up to $150,000 for first-time offenses.

Fines are set to a minimum of $100,000 for subsequent violations and could also require a loss of draft picks, should it be determined that a "club's medical team failed to follow the protocol due to competitive considerations," the league said in a statement.

Representatives from both the NFL and NFLPA [NFL Players Association] will be appointed to investigate potential violations and recommend a course of action.

Such an investigation "will not reach medical conclusions; it will only determine whether the protocol was followed".

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ultimately has "absolute discretion" in determining the penalties. 

The new policy comes in the wake of transparency concerns regarding the handling of in-game head injuries by team medical staffs.

Most notably, the Rams were investigated and ultimately not punished when Case Keenum suffered an apparent concussion and was allowed to continue playing in a November loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

The Rams' handling of the incident raised questions about the overall effectiveness of the NFL's concussion protocol.