If Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are considering a sit down over the issue, it's safe to assume the issue of concussions is an important one. To clarify, there are no talks scheduled, and are rather an idea that could materialize in the near future.
What's important is the fact that concussion awareness and prevention have both been brought to the Mississippi legislature's front door. Several groups in Mississippi, including the Mississippi Brain Injury Association, are pushing legislation that would broaden concussion protocol beyond the boundaries of high school football.
"It's kind of got to the state level now," says Hattiesburg High School Athletic Trainer Jeff Bryant, "We're looking at recreational leagues, our secondary school settings, as far as junior high and high school; athletes across the board in all sports."
The Mississippi High School Activities Association already has concussion guidelines in place, but they apply only to the middle and high schools the association governs. The proposed bill, named Senate Bill 2271, states the "governing body of any youth activity," has to enforce a concussion or head injury policy, must notify all parents of the policy and risks of head injury or trauma, and that proper concussion education is provided to coaches and parents.
While everyone is on board with the bill, there were disagreements as to who would qualify as a certified health official, who could ultimately deem a player fit to return to play. Because of that, the bill passed the Senate, but did not move past the house over the last legislative session.
"I think we basically have that worked out where the language is set, and state medical is going to review that. They're the ones that are the backing source of anything medical that goes on in Mississippi," Bryant believes.
"Right now, we feel like the person in charge of getting this to pass, I think that person is coming around a little bit better and seeing that this is a very important issue."