WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Experts weigh in on the ethics of benching Alex Smith in the wake of his concussion and the message might be to other players.

"That's always been a challenge for us, making sure that players self-report. But it's not that simple. You've got to have the teammate next to him, if he's not right. We have ATC spotters that are watching from upstairs that can spot when somebody's had an impact that may lead to a concussion so they can be evaluated. You want to make sure they're all evaluated properly and that the right decisions are made from a medical standpoint."

-- NFL Commssioner Roger Goodell

"It's not just concern over losing your job. Players don't want to let their teammates down. And there's a real pressure not to be labeled "soft." Remember what happened with Jay Cutler a few years ago when he came out (with a sprained MCL)? His reputation took a hit. ... But as a physician, I would say, "Look, you have to be honest. And you have to communicate." Because when you're talking about second-impact syndrome, another blow could kill you."

-- Dr. David Geier, Director of Sports Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina

"It's a really tough deal for Alex. But look what happened with Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady. Bledsoe got hurt, though it wasn't a head injury, and Brady took over. When you're in the NFL, you're very cognizant of the fact that injuries are just part of the game. But it's just hard because nobody really knows what the long-term effects would be if Alex had kept playing."


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-- Ben Lynch, former 49er and member of California Concussion Coalition

"There's no question that the pressure to ignore concussions is still there and that there's a risk for any player reporting an injury. In a perfect world, every player would get his job back. But that isn't realistic. The coach is looking out for his job and teams want to put the best team on the field. The pressure to win is highest at the NFL. There's millions and millions of dollars involved. But my hope is that youth and high school coaches would realize that there's no need to rush kids back out on the field."

-- Chris Nowinski, co-director of the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy

"I think this has been a problem long before the Alex Smith situation. In the NFL, the bottom line is — and every player knows it, every coach knows it — if you're not on the field, there's a good chance you lose your job."

--Dorsey Levens, former running back now part of the NFL Players' Concussion Litigation

"I feel bad for Alex Smith and I wish he didn't lose his job. But I'm sure in 20 years, he'll be fine with having had to give up his starting job for a few weeks if he means that he still has his mental faculties."

--Chris Nowinski, co-director of the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy