DENVER -- Thursday, Broncos’ greats Ed McCaffrey and Billy Thompson took to the Colorado State Capitol Building in support of Senate Bill 40, The Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion Act.
The proposed bill is named in memory of Jake Snakenberg, who was a 14-year old freshman football player at Grandview High School when he passed away after suffering from what doctors diagnosed as Second Impact Syndrome. Doctors believe that in the previous week’s game, Snakenberg suffered an undiagnosed concussion and had not recovered before returning to the field and subjecting the brain to further injury.
The proposed bill requires that coaches of all youth athletic activities be educated annually in concussion recognition. The Jake Snakenberg Act also mandates that if a coach suspects that a player has sustained a concussion, the athlete must be removed from play. Before a player can return to practice or play with a suspected concussion, they must be examined by a healthcare provider and receive written clearance.
"Most likely, kids this age do not have the knowledge to recognize themselves the symptoms of a brain injury," State Senator Nancy Spence (R-Centennial), a sponsor of the bill said. "This bill is one that will keep athletes active and safe."
The Jake Snakenberg Act was introduced by Spence and co-sponsored by State Senator Linda Newell (D-Littleton) and focuses on preventing concussion recurrences through education. The proposed annual training is offered online free of cost and is open to anyone who wishes to learn about concussion recognition. More information about concussion symptoms and diagnosis is available at http://rockymountainhospitalforchildren.com.
"We want our children to be able to take advantage of all of the benefits of playing sports, like developing character, leadership and self confidence – while reducing the risks of concussions among young athletes," said Newell.
Traveling from the NFL office in New York City to take part in the bill’s presentation, Senior Advisor to the NFL Commissioner Joe Browne added the backing of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
"We at the NFL believe that this is an important legislation on a crucial subject, and that is the education of and protection against concussions in youth athletes," said Browne. "On behalf of the commissioner and the NFL, I want to thank Senator Spence and Senator Newell as well as State Representatives (Ken) Summers (R-Lakewood) and (Nancy) Todd (D-Aurora) for their leadership on this issue."
Representing the Broncos, Director of Community Outreach and Ring of Fame member Billy Thompson and former wide receiver Ed McCaffrey pledged the organization’s full support of the Jake Snakenberg Act.
"Ed McCaffrey and I are really pleased to represent Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen and the entire Denver Bronco Organization here today," said Thompson. "We believe that the eventual passing of this legislation will represent a victory for parents, teachers, coaches and most importantly – every young person associated with sports in Colorado.
"We at the Broncos pledge to do whatever we can to help see that this youth sports concussion education legislation becomes law as quickly as possible because it is important."
McCaffrey followed Thompson’s remarks and drew on his personal experience with injuries throughout his 13-year NFL career.
"We know way more today than we did when I played and it is important that we take advantage of that knowledge," said McCaffrey. "I am here to say that I will do whatever I can, and I am pleased to help get this legislation passed in 2011."
The Jake Snakenberg Act now moves to the senate as a whole, where the bill’s bipartisan sponsors do not expect opposition.