Player safety in the NFL has developed into a hot issue in recent seasons, as new studies are consistently detailing the damage the game can cause on the body, both short and long term. NFL players are among the most prestigious and well-compensated athletes in the world, so logically you would think that they receive top-flight medical attention as well.
However, on Thursday the NFL Players Association released a surprising survey stating that four out of five NFL players do not trust their own teams' medical staffs.
The role of team doctor has come under some scrutiny after an obviously injured Robert Griffin III was allowed to reenter a recent playoff game, eventually aggravating the knee injury further and requiring extensive surgery.
The survey, which included all 32 teams and was conducted towards the end of the season, was meant to gauge players' faith in those entrusted to take care of them, and the results were underwhelming. "The results seem to indicate a gap in what the players expect from their team doctors and the way they're actually treated," said DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA executive director.
Players were asked to rate on a scale of one to five how much they trust their team's medical staff, with one meaning very satisfied with the staff, and five representing not satisfied at all. According to the Washington Post, 78 percent of the respondents replied with a five, with another 15 percent marking a four. Only three percent responded with a one or two.
The players were then asked how satisfied they were with their team's overall injury management practices, and the results were again underwhelming, as 93 percent responded with a four or five.
The dissatisfaction didn't carry over to training staffs however, as players rated their own trainers much more favorably. The difference lies in the fact that team doctors handle bigger injury issues, while the trainers are responsible for the day-to-day upkeep of the players. Fifty percent of the respondents gave their training staff either a one or two, while another 43 percent responded with an average three.
The survey works to show disparity in the medical attention players want, and that which they feel they actually receive, and can serve as an important first step in improvement going forward.