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After Robert Griffin III, Washington’s scintillating playmaker, took a hard (but legal) shot to the head and came up woozy, his reaction was straight out of the warrior playbook.

“You want to play and your survival instincts take over,” he says, “and it just shows that I care about this team and I didn’t want to leave them hanging.”

That outlook, and coach Mike Shanahan’s use of such an innocuous euphemism to describe Griffin’s condition, worry observers inside the league and out.

“We are the NFL and we should be setting the standard for safety and be the symbol for children,” says Dr. Thom Mayer, the NFLPA’s medical director. “If we are serious about this, having a player say what RG3 said, what symbol does that send to youngsters?”

And, as Vincent emphasized _ supported by current and former players, physicians, even lawmakers _ player safety knows no age limits.

Former NFL running back Merril Hoge, who was forced to retire because of concussion-related problems, calls it “a fallacy” to think there’s a trickle-down effect from what the NFL is doing with concussion protocols. He insists a hands-on approach is required on every level, and points out USA Football’s Heads-Up Football initiative that has player safety instructors who teach coaches at their leagues and educate parents and players on the proper way of tackling to avoid injuries.

Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson wants all youth coaches to be certified by the NFL.

Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who estimates he has had “double digit” bouts with concussion-like symptoms, believes equipment changes are necessary. He was the first NFL player to wear special, lightweight padding inside his helmet and about 100 other players have joined Harrison.

“If something works, I’m going to use it,” he says.

Seattle’s Robinson wants to see mouthpieces mandated in the NFL and everywhere else.

Several agents suggest that the players’ union establish a network of doctors who examine players as they get ready for the draft and remain available to them throughout their pro careers. In that way, they aren’t beholden to teams’ medical staffs, eliminating any perceived notions that their health isn’t the doctors’ first priority.

Dr. Gerard Varlotta of the NYU Medical Center’s Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitative Medicine, works for several agents, regularly examining their players and handling their medical care from the NFL combine right through retirement. He recognizes the players’ concerns about priorities.

“There are trends in the NFL where players are injured and their contracts are not fully guaranteed, so it may be better for the team not to treat their injuries,” Varlotta says. “A team may cut a player or treat them and be looking at it from a short-term standpoint, and not long term for the benefit of the player.”

Union doctor Mayer says he’s aware of several physicians who perform such services.

Player agent Joe Linta calls for mandatory health and safety seminars at the league’s combine in the winter, its rookie symposium in the spring, and at training camps during the summer.

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