Sports has long been the bastion of sucking it up, especially in football, where it's essentially a requirement to get your bell rung every once in a while.

"Sorry to hear about your injury. It's really too bad you're not playing."

Most guys aren't Albert Haynesworth, and after a comment like that immediately bounce up off the bench, even if it causes blurred vision.

But the culture of shaking it off has taken a first step toward a fundamental change. The NFL is hanging posters in all 32 team locker rooms this season that urge players to report concussions and warn them of the symptoms and the long-term dangers of brain injury.

The poster's reminder is sobering: "Changes [from brain injury] may lead to problems with memory and communication, personality changes, as well as depression and the early onset of dementia."

Reversing previous NFL literature that disputed the possibility of permanent damage if concussions weren't treated properly, the new posters and stricter rules on how quickly players can return from head injuries are part of a long-overdue awakening by the league. It's the first step toward removing the burden from the player who feels compelled to brush off dizziness or a headache as "just a ding."

The next trick will be convincing players, i.e. forcing them, to wear more advanced helmets that actually protect the head better. Posters and pamphlets help, but in a sport where violent collisions are part of every play, the league still needs to protect the players from themselves.