Drew Brees says NFL is better educated on concussions

Associated Press photo by Nam Y. HuhSaints quarterback Drew Brees looks for a receiver against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Associated Press photo by Nam Y. HuhSaints quarterback Drew Brees looks for a receiver against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

While he hadn’t watched a Frontline documentary critical of the NFL’s stance on concussions and traumatic brain injuries, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees on Wednesday said the league, its teams and its players are better educated about the issue today than they were before.

“I think certainly there were mistakes made in the past in regards to what people knew or how it was handled,” Brees, a member of the NFL Players Association’s executive board, told reporters after practice. “But as we think about moving forward here, and especially when you talk about youth sports, there are protocols that need to be in place and that need to be followed to a ‘T.’ ”

Brees made his remarks after being asked about Frontline’s “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis,” which documented how the league denied and sought to discredit scientific evidence that there was a link between violent collisions common in football games and early onset dementia, brain damage or other devastating conditions found in former players. The film first aired Tuesday on PBS.

Players filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the NFL of failing to provide adequate warning of the long-term risks of concussions in order to protect the image of the multibillion-dollar business of pro football. The league has proposed to settle the litigation for $765 million.

In response to a question about how he felt the NFL was handling concussions, Brees said the documentary and litigation had brought awareness of the matter to “the forefront.”

“I think it’s all about education and then making sure you’re following the protocol once it’s put in place,” he said.

Brees said he would let his sons play football, but he said he would wait until “a certain age I think is appropriate.”

“I think you can be too young to strap on a helmet and go out there,” said Brees, who added that there’s also a risk for concussions in sports such as lacrosse, hockey and soccer.