The NFL has put in plenty of concussion protocols over the past few years, and for the most part its efforts are in good faith. But what good does it do when the players don’t go along with the tests and nobody seems interested in checking that close?
The NFL tried to follow its protocol on Thursday night, but it ended up being another bad look for everyone involved. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson took a hard shot to the jaw in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals. Referee Walt Coleman saw it (the hit was penalized for roughing the passer) and Coleman sent Wilson out of the game to get checked. NFL officials were given more leeway to be proactive when they see a player who might have been concussed. That part worked.
Wilson argued with Coleman, but went off. NBC showed him jogging to the medical tent shortly after he went off the field. He got under the tent, and got right back out without any tests there. NBC’s cameras stayed on Wilson, and he went back in the game. Only a few plays and a couple minutes passed before Wilson returned to the field.
Wilson said he was fine because he answered all the questions on the sideline. Here’s what he said in his postgame press conference:
“I got smacked in the jaw pretty good there. I wasn’t concussed or anything like that. I felt completely clear. I was trying to move my jaw,” Wilson said.
“I think I was laying on the ground for a second just trying to get my jaw, I think Walt thought I was injured or something like that. I told him I was good, I was good. He said, ‘You’ve got to come off the field.’ I think Walt did a great job, first of all. He made the smartest decision. I was fine though. 100 percent fine.
“We finally went over through the whole concussion stuff and all that. We went through every question you can imagine. I answered even some more for him just so he knew I was good, then went back in there.”
This is from the NFL’s concussion protocol:
“The Team Physician best qualified to evaluate concussion shall assess the player by, at a minimum, performing a focused neurological examination that includes, asking what happened, reviewing the “Go-No-Go” signs and symptoms and asking the Maddock’s questions to discern the status of the player and whether a more thorough evaluation is required.”
Perhaps the Seahawks heard what they needed to hear, though it didn’t seem Wilson was on the sideline long enough for a thorough exam.
Wilson believed he was good to go back in the game, and the NFL will have to look and see if enough was done in that case.
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