Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

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.

Original publication




Journal article


Orthop j sports med

Publication Date





NFL, concussion, economic and decision analysis, football, performance