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  • Writer's pictureTerry O'Neil

PLP Helps Evolve Football's Message

UF Health researchers used these helmet-mounted sensors to track players’ head impacts.

Two New York Times stories during the past week captured football's ongoing struggle with health-and-safety issues.

The first, headlined The Ivy League Becomes the Future of Football (click here), was acclamation for the many innovations of Dartmouth Coach Buddy Teevens, a founding partner of Practice Like Pros and frequent co-presenter at PLP clinics.  The second, headlined Amid Concern Over Concussions, High Schools Struggle to Fill Football Rosters (click here), is the story of declining participation in New Jersey high school football.

The irony is that New Jersey is on the verge of having the nation's best story to tell.  Following an October 17 presentation by PLP, the Sports Medical Advisory Committee of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) unanimously endorsed the most restrictive practice contact limits in the history of high school football.  All that remains is approval from the NJSIAA Executive Committee, which next meets November 14.   The impact of these contact reductions, if enacted, will be studied by scientific researchers from one of New Jersey's medical schools.

"This is the way the process should work," said PLP founder Terry O'Neil.  "New Jersey coaches collaborated with us on a proposal.  The governing body received it enthusiastically.  The benefits of their contact reductions will be confirmed by scientific research.  Next time New Jersey coaches and athletic directors take a call from a reporter, they'll have a different message.  And when a few states follow New Jersey's lead, we'll have a template for the entire country."

In the next five weeks, PLP will visit three other states to offer similar proposals.  

Ivy League Showdown Saturday

Speaking of New Jersey, Princeton (7-0) will host Dartmouth (7-0) Saturday in a showdown for the Ivy League title.  (Like Buddy Teevens, Princeton Coach Bob Surace is an ardent supporter of PLP.)  Among the 125 FCS schools, both teams are top 10 in Total Defense, top 5 in Scoring Defense.  

Are these defenses highly ranked in spite of not tackling live during regular-season practice, or because of?  Here's the answer from Teevens:  "The elimination of practice contact allows us to be faster on gameday, and keep a standard of being very efficient and technically sound."  

Similar Issues in Texas

The University Interscholastic League (UIL), governing body of Texas high school athletics, has made concussion reporting mandatory for the state's largest school districts.  Beginning in August, schools in Class 6A must report to scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.  Their research study, aimed at the state's 825,000 student-athletes, is the largest ever attempted in high school athletics.  Participation has been voluntary during the first two years of the project.

The move was applauded by Dr. Dawn Comstock, professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health and prominent researcher with her High School RIO program.  But in an echo of Practice Like Pros' fundamental message, she reminds that reporting "does absolutely nothing to prevent concussions.  That is frequently lost during these discussions."

New Website Design

Here's a delight for your senses:  Log onto to see a new design and execution by our brilliant Webmaster/graphic artist Michael Baumwoll.  His company is Digital Dujour of Westchester County, New York.  Find him at

Upcoming Schedule

Presentation to CIAC Football Committee November 13, Cheshire, CT

NJSIAA Executive Committee Meeting November 14, Robbinsville, NJ

Presentation to Michigan MHSFCA Board of Directors November 30, Traverse City, MI

Presentation to Ohio OHSFCA Board of Directors December 7, Columbus, OH​​

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