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Then a few more things happened. Two doctors whom critics accused of trying to help the NFL minimize the affects of concussions resigned from a medical committee, and the league started a database on concussion injuries. At the scouting combine this year, all 329 players were given a baseline brain activity exam for the first time.

Meantime, the NFL donated $1 million to the Boston University center _ with no strings attached _ to help researchers study the affects of brain injuries. More than 200 athletes from various sports have pledged to donate their brains to the center for study, including Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk, Seattle Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu and Arizona Cardinals receiver Sean Morey.

“It’s been a huge problem for decades, but never have there been scientists who have committed to solve the problem,” said Nowinski, who suffered six concussions in his career. “Now that we have those resources I expect huge advances.”

The poster is a small part of the overall picture, but an important one. Whether players take it to heart is still to be determined; at least the message is in place.

It’s a serious subject, as the heart-wrenching stories told by former players and their family members before Congress last year demonstrated. The fact the NFL took so long to recognize it as such is a disgrace.

Now the league has a second chance. As a result, players may live longer and more productive lives because of it.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org