SFA football players, Nacogdoches neurosurgeon weigh in on NCAA lawsuit

SFA football players, Nacogdoches neurosurgeon weigh in on NCAA lawsuit
A group of SFA freshman defensive football players have been in the middle of concussion prevention rule changes since they've been little. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Dr Michael Randle, a neurosurgeon from Nacogdoches, wrote the concussion protocol for SFA. He believes the lawsuit against the NCAA could lead to more rule changes and lawsuits. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Dr Michael Randle, a neurosurgeon from Nacogdoches, wrote the concussion protocol for SFA. He believes the lawsuit against the NCAA could lead to more rule changes and lawsuits. (Source: KTRE Staff)

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A landmark trial concerning the death of a former University of Texas football player starts Wednesday in Dallas.

Football players and fans will learn how the class-action lawsuit could change football at all levels.

A group of freshman Stephen F. Austin State University Lumberjack football players is right in the middle of safety concerns that are changing the game they love.

"They are making it soft," said Jeremiah Davis, and SFA defensive player.

Dr. Michael Randle, a neurosurgeon, may argue that concussion awareness has led to safer games. Still, the author of SFA's athletic concussion protocol understands both sides of the playing field.

"Anything we can do to protect the players, I'm all for it," Randle said. "Do not get me wrong here, but I think we can regulate football right out of being football."

The class-action lawsuit will call upon the NCAA to defend itself in regard to allegations of negligence.

Did they do enough to keep players safe, at a time when few safety guidelines were in place?

"Did the NCAA know?" Randle said. "They knew that concussions were more frequent than were recognized, but they didn't have the technology."

the NCAA argues that players know the dangers of playing a contact sport. These young players, all who say they have never had a concussion, agree.

"You're signing that paper saying you're consenting to going into the sport; you know what's going to happen. You know the possibilities, the outcome out of that," said Amad Murray, a defensive player for the SFA football team.

The point Randle takes away is people start thinking about head injuries too late.

"It has to start younger, and that's my point with this NCAA trial," Randle said. "He didn't start playing football in the NCAA. He started playing football when he was young. And we have to start there."

Rule changes have trickled down to youth football. The biggest changes are at the pro and college level, SFA athletes and those across the nation, must adhere to plans for the prevention and treatment of concussions.

UIL rules require coaches and some staff to have continuing education on concussion guidelines every two years. Most take it online.

Randle and the SFA trainer are currently planning a conference to be held later this summer for East Texas coaches.

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