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Standard concussion tests begin next season

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INDIANAPOLIS » NFL doctors and trainers will use standardized sideline testing next season to diagnose concussions, the league’s latest move in a national debate over implementing stronger policies toward head injuries.

League officials are scheduled to unveil new guidelines today by which all 32 teams use the same questions for players’ baseline tests. The policy would also add a balance test to the list of other tests already being used.

Previously, teams used a variety of questions on the baseline tests, which players must pass before returning to action, and the balance testing was not part of the evaluation process.

"Some progress," mediator proclaims

In the first real indication of what’s been going on behind closed doors, the federal mediator overseeing bargaining sessions between the league and its players union said yesterday the two sides made "some progress" during more than 40 hours spread over seven consecutive days of meetings, but "very strong differences remain."

The league and union will resume mediation Tuesday, less than 72 hours before the old collective bargaining agreement is set to expire.

Two sides take TV money to court

With millions of people glued to NFL games every fall weekend, the league’s broadcast rights are worth billions of dollars — even if the 2011 season is wiped out.

The union contends over $4 billion in TV, digital and wireless revenue was carved out by the owners as a financial cushion in case of a lockout, and they want that money escrowed so it can’t be held as leverage against them.

The NFL argues that lockout protection has been a normal part of broadcast contracts — the league’s economic engine — for years.

The two sides took their fight before a federal judge in Minnesota yesterday.

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