The issue of concussions isn't going to go away. I remember when concussions were treated like a very minor injury, something to shake off and get back out there. Better protective equipment can help, but if players play more recklessly, thinking that they are safe enough to do so, the added protection is wasted. I expect the rules are going to change. If the focus on concussions starts hurting the NFL's bottom line, rules will change. It wouldn't surprise me if ESPN stops highlighting the "big hits". One way to get yourself on TV is to have a big flashy hit that doesn't just stop the runner, but blasts him back and on the ground. Dangerous plays like this might decline if they don't get the player media attention.
It's obviously a serious issue, but was it just not talked about or considered a big deal years ago? It's cut short a lot of careers, but I just don't remember hardly ever hearing about concussions in the 80s and 90s, now it's everywhere.
The reason it's everywhere now is that it's better understood. One of the things that's come out of the wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, is a better medical understanding of traumatic brain injuries. Modern protective equipment has made survivors out of soldiers that would have died in previous wars. A lot of those survivors, have traumatic brain injuries, making understanding them a hot topic in medicine.
I think the NFL's attempts to ignore the issue also played a role in what has been lately a more intense focus on head injuries and what they might mean.
T-shirts for the tailgate. (Floyd, The Axe, The Jug)