Short-term Outcomes Following Concussion in the NFL: A Study of Player Longevity, Performance, and Financial Loss.
Navarro SM., Sokunbi OF., Haeberle HS., Schickendantz MS., Mont MA., Figler RA., Ramkumar PN.
Background: A short-term protocol for evaluation of National Football League (NFL) athletes incurring concussion has yet to be fully defined and framed in the context of the short-term potential team and career longevity, financial risk, and performance. Purpose: To compare the short-term career outcomes for NFL players with concussions by analyzing the effect of concussions on (1) franchise release rate, (2) career length, (3) salary, and (4) performance. Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: NFL player transaction records and publicly available injury reports from August 2005 to January 2016 were analyzed. All players sustaining documented concussions were evaluated for a change to inactive or DNP ("did not participate") status. A case-control design compared franchise release rates and remaining NFL career span. Career length was analyzed via survival analysis. Salary and performance differences were analyzed with publicly available contract data and a performance-scoring algorithm based on position/player level. Results: Of the 5894 eligible NFL players over the 11-year period, 307 sustained publicly reported concussions resulting in the DNP injury protocol. Analysis of the probability of remaining in the league demonstrated a statistically significantly shorter career length for the concussion group at 3 and 5 years after concussion. The year-over-year change in contract value for the concussion group resulted in a mean overall salary reduction of $300,000 ± $1,300,000 per year (interquartile range, -$723,000 to $450,000 per year). The performance score reduction for all offensive scoring players sustaining concussions was statistically significant. Conclusion: This retrospective study demonstrated that NFL players who sustain a concussion face a higher overall franchise release rate and shorter career span. Players who sustained concussions may incur significant salary reductions and perform worse after concussion. Short-term reductions in longevity, performance, and salary after concussion exist and deserve additional consideration.