Chiefs Host an NFL-Military Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Culture Change Forum

Posted Nov 28, 2012

The Chiefs hosted an hour-long NFL Culture Change Forum on Wednesday at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In conjunction with the NFL’s Salute to Service programming throughout the month of November, the Chiefs continued their partnership with the Armed services to work together and share information, provide education and engage in discussion on concussion and other health-related issues that affect both organizations. (Photo Gallery)

Many soldiers and military leaders filled the 144-person lecture room at the Kansas-based post to talk about change and working together to maintain the health of folks who join both professions.

The NFL and Army share similar cultures and believe in similar values such as duty, commitment, teamwork and courage. While playing football and fighting a war are very different activities, NFL players and soldiers approach their jobs in similar ways. This was evident during the forum that took place at the McHugh Training Center on the grounds at Fort Leavenworth.

“Part of this discussion is about changing the culture and that takes leadership. We are taught culturally to play through (injury). We need to lead as individuals but also as organizations,” Mark Donovan, Chiefs President remarked.

“As a League we are changing the way the game is played. As true leaders we need to change this game for the future of the League. “

Donovan noted that universities, high schools, even pee-wee football leagues will follow the lead of the National Football League.

“This league is astonishingly powerful worldwide – what we do is mimicked. We have focused on, as a League and a club, something positive to mimic,” Donovan continued.

If change is executed and accepted, if rules are implemented to make the game safer, if players are taught the proper way of tackling and engaging in the sport, success can be attained. He noted that the message can even hit close to home.

“The way the game is played by my son is different now, we need to continue to drive that message down,” Donovan said.

Alongside Mark Donovan, other notable panel members included Chiefs LB Willie Lanier and WR Danan Hughes, who both told the panel about their personal concerns and history of TBI / Concussions.

“The Uniqueness of the particular partnership is powerful. This issue of TBI and all of the other consequences is a serious thing. This is not an Army problem or a football program, this is a real life problem,” LTG David G. Perkins, Commanding General, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth noted.

Along with LTG Perkins, the forum consisted of military personnel such as Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Greca , Dr. Patrick Armistead-Jehle and Col. Emery Fehl from Ft. Leavenworth.

The similarities and connections between those who serve in the military and those who play on Sunday are very tangible. There is great mutual respect between NFL players and Soldiers. Players listen to Soldiers; Soldiers listen to players. Those similarities carry over into their jobs as well.

The “warrior ethos” of players and Soldiers may lead them to hide injuries – especially invisible injuries such as TBI/concussion. The new rules set into place for both organizations are helping to thwart such thought processes.

The Chiefs have a long-standing appreciation for the men and women in our armed forces and have a proud tradition of hosting military personnel at Arrowhead. That spirit is reinforced thanks to partnerships with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), who again presented the Chiefs Annual Military Appreciation game on Sunday, November 18th.

As a result, the organization continues to focus on regularly recognizing and honoring those who serve our country. This includes annual good-will stops at local military instillations, such as Ft. Leavenworth and Whiteman AFB, visits with patients at the local V.A. Medical Center and various other in-game collaborations between the team and military. The Chiefs defensive linemen also hosted a Pros vs. GI Joes gaming event versus soldiers deployed overseas.

The Chiefs are one of four NFL franchises, joining Cleveland, Chicago and Seattle, to host a TBI Culture Change Forum along with the military.

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