Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL insist that player health and safety is their top priority. The NFL Players’ Association hopes that their stance leads to change in San Diego.
On Thursday, the NFLPA asked the NFL to replace San Diego Chargers‘ long-time team doctor David Chao.
“It seems to me that the players of the National Football League deserve to have a doctor who’s not been found liable of malpractice, and that’s within the last year,” NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said.
Chao has been under fire for years, yet remained with the Chargers through it all. Chao has been sued multiple times for malpractice, was the subject of a DEA investigation, and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor for driving under the influence.
The Medical Board of California is currently seeking to revoke Chao’s medical license.
Many key players on the San Diego Chargers have suffered injuries over the years. While most would just consider it bad luck, one has to wonder if the medical staff is doing a good enough job preventing and rehabbing player injuries.
In 2011, Chao and the rest of the Chargers medical staff mishandled an injury to Pro Bowl guard Kris Dielman that would eventually spook Dielman into retirement. Against the New York Jets, Dielman suffered a concussion but remained in the game. On the cross-country flight home, Dielman suffered a subsequent seizure after being cleared to travel home with the team. Dielman retired that off-season due to risk of further head injuries.
The Chargers have not responded and said they are still gathering information. Previously, the team has said they are aware of Chao’s history, but had no plans to replace him. Now, given the pressure from the NFLPA and the media, maybe they’ll change their minds.