Legislation focuses on preventing concussions

Posted at 10:49 PM, Apr 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-26 22:49:04-04

A face of the Buffalo Bills is breaking his silence about concussions.

After a 13 year career, Hall of Fame Running Back Thurman Thomas is opening up about the effects of head trauma.

Thomas spoke out over the weekend at a concussion summit. He revealed mood swings and a worsening condition.

The revelation has refueled the debate over contact sports.

One lawmaker has introduced legislation in hopes of preventing some concussions.

"I have three kids, they're playing contact sports now," explained Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke (D-South Buffalo). "I've seen things. Head to head collisions, head to knee collisions."

It was those collisions on the field, and the attention that sports-related concussions have received recently, that prompted Burke to take action.

His legislation would require that the supervisor or organization overseeing any minor playing a contact sport in Erie County would take a course on concussions every few years.

"Ensuring the long term brain health of our children, and I hope this will be one small part of it, making people more aware," Burke told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Rachel Elzufon.

The legislation has even been backed by Thomas, who wrote, "All of our children deserve to have an adult intervene when enough is enough."

On Sports Radio 550, Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly also spoke of the head trauma he experienced on the field and concern for some of his former teammates.

"had no clue where I was and even that, I remember walking around the wrong way," Kelly said about one incident.

Kelly and Thurman's teammate, Mark Kelso, was also on the receiving end of many hits during the team's Super Bowl years. Bills fans remember him fondly for his skills on the field, and for the outer padded helmet he wore to protect his head.

"It's a long laundry list of things that need to be," Kelso said. "I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say there's been some really good progress made, but I just think the pace of the progress has not been kept up with the pace of the problems."

Coaches say they are changing the ways that children, up through college players, approach the game.

"We start with six year olds and make them aware of how to tackle properly and how to block properly and preventing injuries that would happen years from now," said Matthew Coburn, who is both a football coach and a chiropractor.

Burke added that he believes that football, hockey and other sports are an important part of our culture.

"It's vital to build social relationships, to understand work ethic," Burke said. "But there has to be a safe way, or at least a reasonably safe way, to do it."

The legislation still has a number of steps to go through. However, Burke believes it could be up for a vote in the next month.