March 15, 2016 15:43
Jeff Miller, the NFL's executive vice president for health and safety, finally acknowledged for the first time that football has been linked to a degenerative brain disease.
This comes during Brain Awareness Month. #concussions #preventionistheonlycure #SBIA
December 19, 2011 09:00
In preparation for Week 15 of the NFL season, let’s ponder some burning questions involving the league’s movers, shakers and touchdown makers.
How should the NFL handle the Colt McCoy concussion fallout?
It is time for the league to get serious about independent testing.
Everything up until now has been lip service regarding the treatment of concussions suffered on the field. If the NFL is so concerned about the health and welfare of its players, it already would have had an independent neurologist on the sidelines for all games as part of its recent collective-bargaining agreement.
Instead, it has another huge problem on its hands.
An independent neurologist should be part of all future games following the severe concussion suffered by Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy on Dec. 8 in a matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Browns. An illegal helmet-to-helmet hit from Steelers linebacker James Harrison left McCoy crumpled on the turf for a long stretch and required medical assistance from the Browns’ staff.
Incredibly, McCoy returned to the field moments later.
After the game, he complained of being in a "funk." Postgame reports indicated he became startled by a loud noise in the locker room and asked for the bright lights on television cameras to be turned off.
It was clear to everyone around him that he had suffered a concussion.
Everyone but the Browns.
The team at first denied he had suffered a concussion. Then it explained the team’s coach and medical staff failed to properly diagnose the concussion symptoms during the game because its doctors were preoccupied with other players suffering from concussions. All of which is true, but nonetheless is an inadequate response.
The fact he never got checked on the sideline is disturbing beyond belief.
The reason McCoy didn’t communicate his obvious concussion symptoms is because, frequently, the full effects of head trauma are not immediate. Adrenaline is pumping throughout his veins after such a violent collision on the field, so it’s no surprise he talked his way back into the game two plays later.
A player is in no condition to diagnose his own concussion.
The NFL needs to institute the following protocols:
1. An independent neurologist must be assigned to all NFL games and must be the only medical authority who clears a player to return to the field after a concussion or suspected head trauma. It is absurd for teams to use their own medical staff to make these determinations. The NFL has a long, sorry history of team doctors being influenced by coaching staffs whose highest priority is winning, not the health of players.
"I think it would help," Browns left tackle Joe Thomas told reporters. "If you give an independent neurologist just one thing to look for on both sides, then he can just focus on exactly that. We’ve got enough other people that check jerseys and watch for socks to be pulled up and everything else.
"Why don’t you have somebody that’s watching for concussions?," he wondered. "They’re making the refs try to look for it, too. They’ve got enough things to worry about, just like the coaches."
2. Any player requiring medical attention for suspected head trauma must be taken to the locker room and evaluated there. To conduct concussion testing on the field or on the sideline is a complete joke. Even officials go under a hood to view replay challenges as far off the field as possible to block out all distractions.
"We need to find a way to standardize everything and make it so there is no gray area, and there’s no question this has revealed the system might need to change a little bit – not with the Browns, but with the entire league," Browns tight end Evan Moore told reporters. "We’ve got to protect players, no question about it."
It’s not Browns coach Pat Shurmur’s fault McCoy went back onto the field.
Shurmur is preoccupied with the game and relies on medical staff to tell him what’s best for the player.
Nor is it the fault of the team medical staff, who didn’t see the hit as it happened because they were busy treating other players at the time. If McCoy seems fine at the moment, they’re just following the league rules by letting him return.
The problem is the league’s prehistoric protocols for handling concussions.
If the NFL is going to dispatch uniform police to every game to hand out fines for improper shoes, socks that are too long or inscriptions on towels, it had better put independent neurologists at all of its games.
Expecting officials to diagnose concussions on the field is just as ridiculous.
It is the pure definition of negligence for the NFL to keep letting this happen.
Is a one-game suspension for James Harrison enough?
Not even close.
The head-hunting Harrison refuses to change his practice of lowering his helmet and inflicting as much punishment as possible to opposing quarterbacks. Yet, the NFL chooses to banish him for just one game?
The league’s attempts at disciplining Harrison are an outrage.
He is a repeat offender multiple times. He has a bad reputation for lowering his helmet at impact. He must learn he doesn’t need to lead with his helmet to make a tackle.
Yet, for doing so, he gets a one-game suspension.
Meanwhile, the league suspended Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh two games for a "stomp" that inflicts no harm upon Green Bay Packers guard Evan-Dietrich Smith.
If it’s a "SportsCenter" highlight that maims a quarterback but happens between the whistles, that’s one game.
If it ends up being a viral YouTube clip on Thanksgiving Day during a national telecast that happens after the whistle but then leads to a public uproar, despite no one being hurt, that’s two games.
Yep, makes sense.