The Joint Pain Management Committee is comprised of medical experts appointed by the league and the NFLPA. The Committee works to establish uniform standards for club practices and policies regarding pain management and the use of prescription medications by NFL players.
- Address the challenges of pain management for current NFL players
- Facilitate research to better understand and improve potential alternative treatments
Areas of Focus
- Pain management
- Alternative therapies
- Alternatives to Opioids for Long-Term Pain – Players Version
- Alternatives to Opioids for Long-Term Pain – Medical Staff Version
- Thom Mayer, MD, FACEP, FAAPDr. Thom Mayer is the Medical Director of the NFL Players Association, a position he assumed at the request of Gene Upshaw on the day Korey Stringer, a tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, passed away from heat stroke. The NFLPA had never before had a Medical Director. Under the leadership of current NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, Dr. Mayer and his team pioneered a new era in assuring that the health and safety of NFL athletes are protected. Heat illness, traumatic brain injuries, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal injuries, and strength training are all now subject to strict guidelines. In this critical role for the NFLPA, he has become one of the most trusted and widely-respected physicians in sports medicine. He is also recognized as an expert in emergency medicine, pediatric emergency medicine, trauma and healthcare leadership. With regard to sports medicine, leadership development, service excellence and patient flow, he is the most respected and widely known emergency physician in the nation. Dr. Mayer has published over 90 articles, 100 book chapters, and has edited 15 textbooks. He has spoken at over 200 national and international conferences on sports medicine and emergency medicine. On September 11, 2001 Dr. Mayer served as one of the Command Physicians at the Pentagon Rescue Operation, coordinating medical assets at the site. The BestPractices physicians at Inova Fairfax Hospital were the first to successfully diagnose and treat inhalational anthrax victims during the fall 2001 anthrax crises, and Dr. Mayer has served the Department of Defense on Defense Science Board Task Forces on Bioterrorism, Homeland Security, and consequences of Weapons of Mass Destruction. His expertise and insights in crisis management are thus informed by hard-won experience. Dr. Mayer’s academic appointments are as Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine at the George Washington and Senior Lecturing Fellow, Duke University School of Medicine.
- Allen Sills, MD, FACSDr. Allen Sills is the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), a full-time position dedicated to advancing the health and safety of the sport of football. He became the NFL’s first CMO in March 2017, joining the league from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. As a neurosurgeon specializing in the treatment of athletes, Dr. Sills continues to serve at Vanderbilt as a Professor of Neurological Surgery and the Founder and Co-Director of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center. As the NFL’s CMO, Dr. Sills works closely with team medical staffs across the league, the NFL Players Association and its advisors, and the many medical and scientific experts who comprise the NFL’s medical committees. He coordinates with these medical experts to lead the league’s efforts to make advances, on and off the field, to protect players from unnecessary risk through rule changes, evolution of equipment, and robust injury reduction plans. Dr. Sill spearheaded the league’s Injury Reduction Plan—a three-pronged approach aiming to reduce the incidence of concussions—which led to a 24 percent drop in reported concussions during the 2018 season. The 2019 season saw reported concussion numbers remain statistically similar. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Sills has led the NFL’s response, coordinating with the NFLPA, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NFL Medical Committee members, and the NFL and NFLPA’s experts at Infection Control for Sports (“ICS”) (formerly known as the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network or “DICON”). Their recommendations have informed the development of the league’s COVID-related player safety protocols—from testing and exposure mitigation to equipment and medical ethics—which meet or exceed state and local orders. Dr. Sills is an active researcher, having published over 170 scientific articles and presentations, including over 40 in the last five years on the topic of sports concussion. He is a member of the Concussion in Sport Group, which publishes international standards regarding concussion in sport. Dr. Sills is also a fellow of the American Board of Neurological Surgery and the American College of Surgeons. Before joining the NFL, Dr. Sills served as a consulting neurosurgeon for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, the NHL’s Nashville Predators, the US Equestrian Foundation, and the athletic programs at Vanderbilt University, Belmont University and Mississippi State University. He also served as an Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant on the NFL sidelines, and as a neurological consultant to the NCAA and the International Equestrian Foundation (FEI). Dr. Sills previously served as the Founder and Executive Director of the Memphis Regional Brain Tumor Center; the Director of the Neuroscience Institute at Methodist University Hospital, Memphis; an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee, Memphis and the Semmes-Murphey Clinic; and as Chief of the Division of Neurosurgery at the Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Sills graduated summa cum laude from Mississippi State University with a degree in engineering and received his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, where he also went on to complete his internship in General Surgery, his residency training in Neurological Surgery and an NIH-funded Neuro-Oncology Fellowship. He serves on the Board of Directors for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County Tennessee, and has served as a youth baseball coach for more than 20 years. Dr. Sills and his wife Shawne live in Tennessee and have four children.
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- Geoff Ling, MD, PhD, Col. (Ret.)Dr. Ling is a leading authority on traumatic brain injury (TBI). For many years, he was the leading TBI subject matter expert for the Department of Defense. Dr. Ling is a retired U.S. Army colonel and was deployed as a neurointensive care physician to Afghanistan in 2003 and, to Baghdad, Iraq in 2005. He is presently a professor of neurology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and is an attending physician in Neuro Critical Care Unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital. And he was the founding Director of the Biological Technologies Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) where he served for almost 12 years.
- Kevin Hill, MDDr. Kevin Hill is Director of Addiction Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He earned a Master’s in Health Science at the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at the Yale School of Medicine. He most commonly treats patients who have problems with alcohol, cannabis, or opioids. The author of Marijuana: The Unbiased Truth about the World’s Most Popular Weed, Dr. Hill’s research interests include the development of medications to treat cannabis use disorder as well as cannabis policy, and he has published widely on these topics in such journals as JAMA, JAMA Internal Medicine, and Lancet Psychiatry. In 2018, he was awarded a grant to summarize the research on the therapeutic use of cannabis and he presented his findings to the World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence in Geneva, Switzerland in June 2018. He serves on the editorial boards of Lancet Psychiatry, Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, and American Journal on Addictions.