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McCoy situation confirms need for dramatic changes to in-game concussion procedures

Colt McCoy AP

The NFL’s fairly recent requirement that players who have been diagnosed with concussions remain out of action until cleared by an independent neurologist caused some (including me) to assume that independent neurologists have a permanent seat at the table, present at every game in order to help team-hired physicians over whose shoulders the head coach is peering to determine whether a player has suffered a concussion in the first place.

But as the league conceded earlier this year, independent neurologists aren’t present during games.  (Indeed, the league doesn’t even require that the team neurologist attend games.) Independent neurologists should be present, and hopefully the one positive development coming from the case of Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy is that, in the near future, they will be.

McCoy absorbed a devastating helmet-to-facemask hit from Steelers linebacker James Harrison on Thursday night.  After missing only two plays, McCoy was back in the game.

“He actually, on the field, was talking about his hand and we go through the strict protocol to evaluate whether there is concussion like symptoms,” coach Pat Shurmur told reporters on Friday.  “Seneca [Wallace] was in the game for two plays, I was told that Colt could go back in the game.   He came up right next to me and said, ‘I’m ready to roll,’ so he went back in.”

As Peter King pointed out during last night’s episode of NBC SportsTalk, McCoy’s subjective belief that he was fine and his desire to return to the game shouldn’t matter.  What should matter is whether a properly trained medical professional — preferably fully independent of the team — believes that McCoy definitely doesn’t have a concussion.

Besides, how can the supposedly “strict protocol” to which Shurmur referred be implemented so quickly, especially when by all appearances the trainers were checking out McCoy’s hand?

The Browns have declined our request to identify the specific tests that were conducted in clearing McCoy to return to the field.  (Given that McCoy actually suffered a concussion, the tests apparently didn’t work.)  Though not quite as tight-lipped as the Steelers when we posed various questions following an apparent concussion suffered by Hines Ward, the Browns fell far short of the Jets in the candor department when responding to a detailed inquiry regarding McCoy’s status.  The Browns simply forwarded to us some of Shurmur’s quotes from Friday, acknowledged generally that the “medical team” checked out McCoy before he re-entered the game (without saying who is on the “medical team” and, more importantly, whether a neurologist was involved), and forwarded news items regarding other players who have suffered concussions praising the team for its handling of their own situations.

“I felt like the management from the point that it happened through yesterday was just fantastic,” linebacker Scott Fujita, a member of the NFLPA Executive Committee, said in October after Fujita was diagnosed with a concussion.  “So that makes me feel really, really good. I couldn’t be happier with the way [trainer] Joe Sheehan and our doctors handled everything.”  (I wonder what Fujita thinks about the manner in which McCoy’s situation was handled?)

A significant gap remains between the manner in which a team deals with a player who has been diagnosed with a concussion and the process implemented during the stresses and demands of a game to determine whether a player should be kept out of action due to a possible concussion.  As to the former, the league is doing well.  As to the latter, the league is failing not only its players, but also the men and the boys who play football at any level, since every lower level takes its cues from the NFL.

To close the gap, here’s what the league needs to do.  A safety official should be stationed in the replay booth.  The safety official would have the ability, based on a monitoring of the live action, replays, and activity on the sidelines, to initiate an evaluation of any player who possibly has suffered a concussion.  The safety official would buzz down to an independent neurologist stationed on each sideline, and the independent neurologist would evaluate the player.  The evaluation would occur not on the sideline, but in the locker room, in a warm, quiet environment, with the player’s shoulder pads removed.  And the independent neurologist would not allow the player to return to the game unless the independent neurologist determines there is no concussion, concussion-like symptoms, or concussion-like concussion.

Coaches may not like this approach very much, because it could keep a player who actually doesn’t have a concussion from being available during a key sequence of a game.  To that we say, “So what?”  Either the NFL is serious about dealing with this issue, or the NFL isn’t.  Right now, the league’s procedures contain a gaping hole regarding one of the most significant hazards of concussions — exposing players to a second concussion immediately after they have suffered an initial one.

Two years ago, the league took the concussion problem seriously after Congress showed an interest in the issue.  Maybe Congress now needs to let the league know that Congress believes more needs to be done to ensure that players who suffer concussions during a game aren’t able to make their way back onto the field.

If Congress would do that, the situation would be resolved within two weeks.

While the league may not prefer that outcome, it’s far better than having a player die on national television, in HD.

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61 Responses to “McCoy situation confirms need for dramatic changes to in-game concussion procedures”
  1. fittytuckin says: Dec 10, 2011 11:04 AM

    I could honestly care less if a player died on the field. These are millionaire athletes whose job it is to entertain me. So entertain me goddammit!

  2. stevec626 says: Dec 10, 2011 11:04 AM

    James Harrison would have loved playing pre goodel days

  3. wegonnadoitbaby says: Dec 10, 2011 11:05 AM

    Agreed and well stated Mike. For those that have not read up on the on going CTE studies at Boston University please check it out.

    The long term effects of concussions on the brain carry a high price long term. Not only on the athlete, but the family and friends that surround him.

  4. bearsblow says: Dec 10, 2011 11:05 AM

    At the rate the commish is going, he’s going to turn this league into a Flag Football league.

  5. kingmj4891 says: Dec 10, 2011 11:06 AM

    Doesn’t congress have more important things to do.
    Get off your high horse and let the NFL do its thing without Congress. Concussions are a part of football and yes the Browns need to be held accountable for what happened with McCoy but to bring Congress into is wrong. The NFL really needs to just make all players wear better helmets and hire 32 independent doctors to evaluate players during games, having a different doctor for each team each week so there is no conflicts of interest. But to have Congress interfere and do this is wrong and a waste of our tax dollars, not that Congress doesn’t waste enough of them already.

  6. stevec626 says: Dec 10, 2011 11:10 AM

    Hey congress get us a F$&@kin college playoff while your at it

  7. worldwidebleater says: Dec 10, 2011 11:10 AM

    Merril Hodge: I think the NFL should… I can’t remember what I was going to say.

  8. jetsguy1117 says: Dec 10, 2011 11:11 AM

    For someone who was so concerned about a Super Bowl ending with a field goal in overtime, have you put much thought into the idea of a Super Bowl ending on a Ryan Mallet pick 6 because Tom Brady was in the warm locker room with his shoulder pads off because some guy standing 150 feet above the sideline thinks he saw him stumble awkwardly?

    I get it. Your son plays high school football. So go nag the school athletic directors in your district and let the grown men do what they are paid to do.

  9. 2difshoe says: Dec 10, 2011 11:11 AM

    Long term effect of multiple concussions, view recent tape footage of Muhammad Ali at Joe Frazier’s Funeral service. Athletes should take a look at this and see the long term effect of head trauma….very sad !

  10. i3addog says: Dec 10, 2011 11:18 AM

    This is America dammit, profits over people come first in every single aspect of life. We can’t have players missing games just because they have had their bells rung. So what if their brains get scrambled and they turn into out of control wife beaters after their playing days are over. So what if they can’t remember their kids names when they’re done. This is why they get paid millions right ? Their long term health isn’t the leagues concern , it’s about making each game as exciting as possible so they can sell more tickets and get paid more for their TV contracts.

  11. skinsrock says: Dec 10, 2011 11:19 AM

    He said “I’m Batman” & they believed him.

  12. santolonius says: Dec 10, 2011 11:29 AM

    item: mccoy was thrashing around on the field like he had just be shot. thus a coach who cared at all about his players safety could have said we better hold him and be real sure the man is ok.
    item: while mccoy was on the ground the coaches in the booth had multiple looks at the hit and saw mccoy’s head snap back. they saw that. if they say otherwise they are lying. they knew he was hurt and if they cared about their player they could have told the sideline to keep him out.
    conclusion: whatever coverup tests the browns did on the sideline are meaningless to the conclusion the browns cared as much about mccoy’s health as the aztec priest cared about the health of the virgin just before she was thrown into the volcano.
    shurmur should be suspended one game. keeping players from losing the use of their brains in later life is important.

  13. palinforpresidentofnorthkorea says: Dec 10, 2011 11:30 AM

    Browns were wrong in putting McCoy back in the game.

    Coach – you may have WON THE GAME with a QB who could think clearly! (This is for the win at all costs coaching mentality)

  14. James Myers says: Dec 10, 2011 11:31 AM

    Accept the truth. That the NFL doesn’t actually care about safety. They care about scoring. Every bit of “Safety” legislation that’s been passed up to this point, (save the kickoff rule, I just don’t get that one) has been to force defenders to pull up and give offenses the confidence to air it out all day. Creating a “Strike zone” for a legal hit on a receiver. Tossing out 15 yd penalties and $15k fines for even touching a QB’s head, knees, or facemask. Do all of those things, yet continue to allow the joke of a concussion “policy” to continue.

    Team doctors will make the decision based upon the game at hand, and what the coaches and players want BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE PAID TO DO.

    While we’re at it, if player health is so important, why don’t we have a realistic and serious HGH and ‘Roid testing policy? Pump your body full of life shortening chemicals, as long as it helps you perform on the field. Yet drop dirty on a few weed tests, and you’re suspended??

    The decision making is all based on affecting the NFL’s ability to attract casual, cash spending fans to add to the cash pool. The NFL knows that a truly safe concussion policy would do the same thing an HGH and steroid policy would do: Keep droves of players off of the field until the game was adjusted to compensate and inevitably made much less entertaining, IE baseball.

    Widespread HGH suspensions = bad for business.
    Widespread games missed due to concussions = bad for business.
    Keeping dopeheads out of the public eye = good for business.
    Keeping games high scoring and receivers confident = good for business.

  15. usmutts says: Dec 10, 2011 11:32 AM

    I believe that dangerous head shots and kill shots (along with post-play intent to injure) could be practically eliminated if the penalties went against the team and not the culprit player. Don’t fine the player who did it. He just pays the fine.

    Penalize his team in a meaningful way. For example, if the shot to McCoy’s head is determined to be illegal, and obviously extremely dangerous, then deprive the Steelers of, say, two possessions. In other words, give their opponent the ball three times in a row. without allowing the Steelers to have a possession. This puts them in a position to lose the game as a result of the illegal hit.

    Do this a few times and pretty soon and the culprits will soon incur the wrath of their teammates and, more importantly, their coaches. The locker rooms will start to police the bad boys and shut down the misconduct.

    Just levying a fine on a player doesn’t give his teammates and coaches any incentive to stop his misconduct.

  16. rmc1995 says: Dec 10, 2011 11:36 AM

    As inconsistent as the officiating is on the field and league office punishments are on Tuesday look for a couple of things if this absolutely short sighted proposal is enacted. These safety officials will be inconsistent in each game throughout the schedule and even during the game. One hit during the beginning of the game could have this safety official buzzing down to remove a QB during a drive, but this same official may swallow his buzzer if the hit happens at the end of a close game. Also, this could bring out the goons. A shot to the QB helmet may be a fine, may not be a fine, may be a penalty may not. Coaches will study safety officials and if they have a quick trigger it may be worth a shot to the

  17. gametime52 says: Dec 10, 2011 11:44 AM

    Just another reason why the UFC is the realist sport full of the toughist athletes on the planet.

  18. nagaswan says: Dec 10, 2011 11:44 AM

    Unless a large lawsuit comes from a player or players, which is actually successful, there will never ever ever ever ever be anyone in NFL management who gives 1% of a crap about whether someone with a concussion is in the game. This will all be swept under the carpet by the perpetual news machine known as the NFL.

  19. gking11 says: Dec 10, 2011 11:46 AM

    Given the steady news of since-retired NFL players showing the effects of their playing careers, mostly due to concussions, it behooves the NFL to take this matter to the next level. Don’t get me wrong, they took it seriously last season, and rightfully so, but in light of McCoy’s incident, there’s plenty of kinks to be worked out. It’s good and important that the NFL took steps to address this troubling issue, but they can’t just issue forth some kind of rule or guideline and let that be that. A player’s health is paramount over all else, and not just for the immediate future, but also his long-term well-being.

    The NFL would do well to look out for the players’ health since they’re the ones putting their lives and bodies on the line, and that means being vigilant about issues such as concussion.

    By the way, why not make Steve Tasker’s famous helmet mandatory? If I recall, it made a huge difference, despite how slightly silly it looked.

  20. rmc1995 says: Dec 10, 2011 11:48 AM

    To complete my thought. A player or coach will take shots at a QB head if its worth the possible 15 yard penalty and or fine to remove a Qb. Congress? Really? Have they gotten anything right in 12 years? Do we need each team to add more lobbiests to DC? This is horrible idea and can only lead to money being given to lawyers. Go figure a lawyer has this idea.

  21. Deb says: Dec 10, 2011 11:52 AM

    As far as I know, the Steelers do have a neurologist on the sidelines most games. It may not be a league requirement, but my understanding is that they’ve been doing that for a while now. They also have been pressing for stricter concussion standards for a while now. I’ll believe that is not the case when someone named Rooney, Colbert, or Tomlin issues a statement telling me the Steelers never have a neurologist on the sidelines.

    I don’t know why in a story about the “McCoy situation” we’re still taking shots at the Steelers for being tight-lipped. But I do know our players did not come back on the field with concussionlike symptoms. Our team is just being villified for refusing to tell the media all its business. And I’m not going to damn the Browns until A DOCTOR says Colt went back on the field with a concussion.

  22. blackqbwhiterb says: Dec 10, 2011 11:52 AM

    You cannot judge if a guy got a concussion by watching videotape. Simply because he LOOKS like he bumped his head hard doesn’t mean he is definitely injured, nor does it give YOU the right to judge how he feels and if he is hurt, based on how bad it looked to you on TV………. You cannot legislate perfection here. If the guy says he can play, and the trainers say it’s ok, let it go.
    Now, if he is looking for the contact lens which fell out, a year after he had laser surgery and got rid of his contacts (like Aikman), then maybe you gotta hold him out. But the media calling for all these rules and the league listening is a bit over the top. But typical in a lawyer-controlled world.

  23. mazenblue says: Dec 10, 2011 11:54 AM

    The way the browns have treated colt from the get go is a joke. This kid deserves a trade or release or something.

  24. Christian says: Dec 10, 2011 12:01 PM

    Damn, could you imagine all the hue and cry about the league fixing games to ensure high ratings? There is no simple, everyone wins fix, but the stakes are too high not to try, considering the rest of the football world, and our KIDS, take their cue from the NFL.

    I taught high school for a couple of years, and kids who had no shot at even being on a junior college team were going back in after having their bells rung–for a high school game for crying out loud. You think they’d be just as eager if the NFL put a serious effort into this?

    Another positive step–improve the helmets. A few designs look V-E-R-Y promising.

  25. Deb says: Dec 10, 2011 12:07 PM

    @usmutts …

    First, that was not a kill shot. Nor did Colt appear to think it was a kill shot when he came back out and patted Harrison on the helmet. Second, the NFL has a provision for punishing the team. It’s called a personal foul and a 15-yard penalty. The officials just don’t call it with any consistency.

    I’m sure James will be fined, but that was not a vicious hit according to the rules. When you’re running with the ball as Colt was doing, you are a running back, and the defenseless receiver/QB rules don’t apply. James didn’t launch at Colt in a spearing move–I’ve called out our players before for spearing and would call out James if I’d seen that. But he does tend to drop his head about an inch before contact, so the crown of his helmet connected with Colt’s facemask. It was a hard hit, but I’ve seen much worse.

  26. commanderroman says: Dec 10, 2011 12:12 PM

    Let’s see add a safety observer in the booth, that could buzz down to the field to check on the safety of players issues by removing them from the field and into the warm, quiet locker room during critical moments in the game. I fear someone will wonder about the “integrity” of those guys and the game before too long.
    By NFL reasoning, they can’t afford to pay full time officials but you are recommending it should retain independent neurologists as well as an independent safety observer for each game. (That sholdn’t cost too much!)

    Maybe what they need to look into is different equipment. Replace the hard shell helmets and facemasks with something that won’t be used as a “weapon”. I bet those spearing and launching tackles would go down big time. As atheletes I think they understand the nature of the risks, they love the game and they love the amount of money they make. It is hard for a player not to be playing, they are used to playing hurt and the tolerence for pain is high. Maybe what they need is to have clauses written into their contracts involving concussions liabilities; theirs, the teams, the NFL and the independent neurologist.

  27. tdb123tdb says: Dec 10, 2011 12:19 PM

    The Browns say a “medical team” out McCoy before he re-entered the game. Fine – suspend the medical license of the Doc (assuming one was part of the “medical team”). The focus on the NFL management of this is the wrong focus. Focus on the docs. Enough docs have to answer to disciplinary hearing, they will stop giving a fake OK.

    It would be quite interesting to hear from the Browns team doc that gave the OK (or oversaw the procedure that let to OK happen without a doctor being present). That doc should enjoy his time on the sidelines, because he will soon be in hell.

  28. gking11 says: Dec 10, 2011 12:24 PM

    Chrisitan

    I read somewhere that high school footballers are at the highest risk for concussions, and those kids are our future.

    I sincerely hope the NFL passes their knowledge and recommendations down to the college, high school, and even all the way down to pee-wee football levels. The NFL has the money and resources to do this kind of research, let everyone from benefit from it.

  29. nickster31 says: Dec 10, 2011 12:39 PM

    blackqbwhiterb says: Dec 10, 2011 11:52 AM

    You cannot judge if a guy got a concussion by watching videotape. Simply because he LOOKS like he bumped his head hard doesn’t mean he is definitely injured, nor does it give YOU the right to judge how he feels and if he is hurt, based on how bad it looked to you on TV………. You cannot legislate perfection here. If the guy says he can play, and the trainers say it’s ok, let it go.
    Now, if he is looking for the contact lens which fell out, a year after he had laser surgery and got rid of his contacts (like Aikman), then maybe you gotta hold him out. But the media calling for all these rules and the league listening is a bit over the top. But typical in a lawyer-controlled world.

    No, you can’t tell if a player got a concussion from watching a tape, but you CAN tell if there is a likelihood of the player having gotten one by the way he is hit, or the way his body lies on the turf. If the players arms are raised to the sides, like McCoys were, it is a pretty good indication that he got a concussion. If he does not remember his name, if he can’t tell you where he is, if he cant stand without stumbling, then odds are, he needs the concussion tests to make sure he is OK. If he passes those tests, put him back in. If he doesn’t, then he needs to be out of the game.

    McCoy said Friday morning that he did not even remember the end of the game. He had to avoid the media because the lights were giving him a headache. It is obvious that he had a concussion, and needed to be out of the game. Odd thing is, having him out of the game, would have given the Browns a better chance to win. It cost the Browns a shot at winning the game, because McCoy was allowed to return. They shot themselves in the foot, and broke the rules all at the same time.

  30. ftball58 says: Dec 10, 2011 12:45 PM

    One question with all this: What happens when defensive players realize with one blow to the head on an opposing QB they can change the game? If Tom Brady is leading a game winning drive in the fourth quarter and I am the coach I am telling my players to do helmet to helmet on him. If you knock him out of the game for two plays it is worth the fine . Even if the coach doesn’t tell his players to do this it will happen during the course of a game. Not saying I support this approach as an athlete who suffered concussions from high school football and nearly being beaten to death by my college roommate but this is a situation that will happen inevitably.

  31. texline1 says: Dec 10, 2011 12:48 PM

    Yes, that’s exactly what congress needs to do. Spend their time and our money worrying about football. It isn’t like there are any other pressing needs like a couple of wars, an economy in the septic tank (In the toilet just doesn’t say enough),crime rates rising, unemployment rising, or anything like that. Maybe after they are through with football, they can start on Hollywood to make sure those actors and producers make quality movies. Then they can shut down facebook. It offends people. As long as they’re not busy, that is.

  32. glac1 says: Dec 10, 2011 12:49 PM

    maybe these players daddies need to be reminded that the player is under contract to play..and if deemed he can…maybe he should. Archie Manning and Mr. McCoy should be put in their place.

  33. erikinhell says: Dec 10, 2011 12:56 PM

    It looks like everyone is missing one thing. What if McCoy did check out OK on the sideline? We all know a player can pass a concussion test with a mild concussion. I’ve had a mild concussion before from a car accident, and the affects didn’t hit me for 2 days after the accident. I completely agree that McCoy shouldn’t have gone back in that game, but obviously McCoy didn’t feel that way. Coach Shurmur should have been smart enough not to put a QB with his bell rung back in the game.

  34. transam7816 says: Dec 10, 2011 1:13 PM

    It was OBVIOUS he suffered a concussion.

  35. ahs2 says: Dec 10, 2011 1:21 PM

    Congress needs to pay attention to the other 99.99999999999999% of us and the nation’s problems rather than professional sports…I don’t think the founding fathers envisioned congress holding hearings on issues in the entertainment industry! No matter how you feel or what you think, it’s still ‘entertainment’!

    These guys get astronomical compensation and it’s always been justified that it’s because of the risks involved and subsequent short shelf life of their careers….so be it.

  36. westcoastpackerfan says: Dec 10, 2011 1:22 PM

    I agree that changes need to be made to take the decision to re-enter the game out of the player, and even coaching staff’s hands. I don’t necessarily like this proposal for some of the reasons people have already mentioned.

    My take on this is two things.

    1. The fact that there was even a debate about whether or not James Harrison’s hit was legal in the first place is absurd. If there is a hit that defines illegal head to head contact to a defenseless player, and more specifically, a quarterback, this is it. There are players playing good, strong, agressive defense, without jacking people in the face constantly. Harrison (and it seems, many fans and analysts) still don’t get it. Sure, sometimes this results in ticky tack calls, where a player grazes a QBs facemask or something, but the fact of the matter is a defender has to be smart and not put himself in that position. Just don’t do it.

    2. The fans obviously don’t care about player safety for the most part. And most that do probably care about it because they don’t want to see their favorite players needlessly injured because guys like Suh & Harrison can’t control themselves. Look at all the comments on this article, if fans don’t care, the NFL is not going to take it seriously, because as a few people have mentioned, it’s all about the Dollars.

    I am sick of Goodell’s heavy handed way of running this league, but if there were a place for his heavy handed behavior, it would be enforcing this concussion policy. I don’t give a crap about guys going to strip clubs or whatever, focus on dealing with teams that will not enforce the policy that the league has set out.

  37. erikinhell says: Dec 10, 2011 1:24 PM

    No, it was obvious he took a shot to the head. Players often take a shot to the head and escape without a consussion.

  38. steelersownyou says: Dec 10, 2011 1:28 PM

    You just keep crushin the QB’s Harrison…Let god sort them out! Next up alex smith! Get ready for a brain rattler alex…but ive seen him play. He doesnt have one!

  39. andrejohnsonforpresident says: Dec 10, 2011 1:38 PM

    Only problem with an IN is that someone will come a long and say that he diagnosed a concussion that wasnt a concussion in the middle of a big game and is cheating or something stupid.

  40. doctorbarr says: Dec 10, 2011 1:43 PM

    The Steelers are so grateful that McCoy went back in! The Browns would have won the game with Wallace in there! Oh, and I’m a die-never Browns fan— wondering why Browns managment dislikes Wallace so much!

  41. prior0knowledge says: Dec 10, 2011 2:07 PM

    Does it really require a neurologist to determine if a player has a concussion? Sure, to treat it, yes, but to just diagnose it? I don’t think so. I bet any doctor or even some lesser medical personnel could be trained to determine if a concussion occurred.

    Make it a requirement that a properly trained medical person, whose authority is final, be present on each sideline. Their sole job is to make a preliminary check on all injured players on the sideline so they can quickly rule out a concussion. Then, if a concussion can’t be ruled out, take the player to the locker room for a more definitive concussion diagnosis.

    Isn’t this the most balanced solution?

  42. Deb says: Dec 10, 2011 2:09 PM

    @doctorbarr …

    I took McCoy’s return as a sign that he was okay, and I was grateful for that. And I think he’s a good QB who doesn’t have the supporting cast he had last year. But will admit that after watching his first couple of plays, Wallace had me a little concerned. Not sure why the Browns didn’t just let him play through that possession and see what happened.

  43. ncsteeler says: Dec 10, 2011 3:14 PM

    We can argue about the hit and whether McCoy should have gone back in two plays later but why did he also go back in after it got to 14-3 with a little over 2 minutes left? At that stage the game was essentially over and all the Browns were playing for was a garbage time TD to make it look better. At that point if there was one chance in a hundred that he had a concussion he should have been held out. He was hit a number of time on that drive including a game ending sack. He should not have be subjected to that danger.

  44. CKL says: Dec 10, 2011 3:24 PM

    Why wonder what Fujita would say about it? Ask him. He’s a pretty candid guy. I bet he will give you an honest answer. I’ve never gotten the impression that he’s afraid to be controversial if he believes he is championing a just cause.

  45. edavidberg says: Dec 10, 2011 3:37 PM

    There is no way they went through protocol. There was not enough time to observe him, plus they were looking at his hand and never checked his eyes. This is just shameful, there is no excuse for it happening at this point with all the rules in place.

    Browns aren’t saying what protocol they followed for a reason.

  46. drewsylvania says: Dec 10, 2011 3:41 PM

    The league as we know it is going to have to end in order for the long-term health issue to go away.

  47. edavidberg says: Dec 10, 2011 3:42 PM

    PS You don’t need dramatic changes to in game concussion procedures, you just need to find people that are actually going to implement them. You can’t tell me the Browns checked McCoy for sensitivity to light, etc., etc. in 2 minutes.

    The NFL needs to ask them specifically what procedures they followed. Then it will be clear they never did them.

  48. blitzburgh43 says: Dec 10, 2011 3:55 PM

    Just for the record, both Hines and Troy lobbied to go back into the game….but were told NO.

    2 years ago after Ben suffered a concussion, passed the tests all week and then developed headaches on Saturday before the game, he was told NO. He was still begging Tomlin during the national anthem and was again told NO.

    Tomlin tells his players in the locker room, “we don’t discuss our business in front of company” when the media is there. Quit vilifying the Steelers because they refuse to give you your scoop.

  49. blitzburgh43 says: Dec 10, 2011 3:58 PM

    The cameras showed a clear face shot of McCoy when he went back into the game. Anybody with eyes in their head could easily see that the kid didn’t have a clue about where he was even at.

  50. nflconcussions says: Dec 10, 2011 4:19 PM

    This is becoming a serial issue for the Browns. Owen Marecic and Ben Watson also left the game with concussions–it was Marecic’s second of the season and Watson’s third. I don’t know the diagnoses for the first ones for these two players, but it strikes me as plausible that the Browns rushed these two players back too early, too.

  51. guppies66 says: Dec 10, 2011 4:34 PM

    Mike, if the NFL is to implement your idea, then they must at least also temporarily suspend the penalized player who caused the other player’s concussion evaluation, since it will quickly become a strategic decision to so easily “knock out” another team’s player for a few series, with the only punishment being a possible future suspension (especially if the current game is important).

    I can see it now:
    James Harrison to the ref: “tell Goodell to queue up my 2-game suspension”
    Ref: “why? you’ve been good this game”
    Harrison: “Coach told me to send Brady to the locker room.”

  52. td40 says: Dec 10, 2011 4:47 PM

    Pat Shurmur: “I was told that Colt could go back in the game. He came up right next to me and said, ‘I’m ready to roll,’ so he went back in.”

    Need any more proof that Shurmur has no business being an NFL head coach?

    First he tries to pass the buck with the “I was told” part. Then he basically says that a player’s word that he’s ready (because they will ALL say that, concussion or not) was all the proof he needed McCoy was ok.

    No business at all.

  53. spartaninnh says: Dec 10, 2011 5:21 PM

    Mike, I love you, but *please* be realistic. Do all concussion testing in the locker room with the pads off? Do you have any idea how long it takes to get tape and pads off? And then, assuming the player gets the green light to go back in, to get taped back up and ready to play? Are the 2 teams supposed to hang out on the sidelines listening to the theme from “Jeopardy” while this takes place? Of course not.

    All that is needed is an ER doctor (not a neurologist — as pointed out above, you’d want a neurologist for the treatment of a concussion, not necessarily diagnosis). The doctor should be paid by the NFL, neither team, to do concussion testing on the sidelines. The doctor would have to have complete authority to rule a player out of further play — thus should be provided by the league, and given protocols to follow by the league.

    No one trusts the coaches or the players to make sure proper testing is done, protocols followed, or calls made, and rightly not — it’s their income that’s on the line.

  54. macbull says: Dec 10, 2011 5:34 PM

    Wouldn’t it be great if helmets were so safe, Colt McCoy would not have suffered a concussion?

    You say that is impossible?…you would be wrong !

    Players who wore helmets with padding added to the outside of the rock hard plastic shell, credited those helmets for extending their careers and protecting their brain from any further concussions…in short, they worked.

    The NFL is aware of those helmets and the ProCap alternative, which Mark Kelso and Steve Wallace wore when their careers were threatened by repeated concussions.

    Concussions will continue to be a problem until the NFL upgrades the quality of today’s helmets…hopefully next season!

  55. CKL says: Dec 10, 2011 5:51 PM

    You know, I heard a caller to local talk radio comment that perhaps Colt felt some additional pressure to go back in because BR did. It makes some sense, not that he didn’t want to go back in anyway but he may have been wondering (if he could think coherently at that point) what might his teammates and coaches have thought if BR went back in and he didn’t?

  56. gumby321 says: Dec 10, 2011 6:48 PM

    Shumur shouldn’t have listened to McCoy, even if he told him he was good to go. Most players will say they’re okay, because they’re afraid of losing their starting position.

    In 2004, Brett Favre suffered a concussion in a game against the Giants and told Sherman he could go. He felt fine. So Sherman let him go in. When Favre got back to the sideline, he was determined to have a concussion and shouldn’t have been allowed back in the game. Didn’t even remember the TD he threw.

    My point is, concussions are tricky. The player may not be affected right away and feel fine like in the case with Favre. Some are more obvious, with the player being woozy and unable to recall things or know where he’s at. Anytime a player takes a hit to the head, and is shaken up should be evaluated by an independent doctor. IMO

  57. thetooloftools says: Dec 10, 2011 7:10 PM

    Trust me… living in Cleveland. Colt is going to have enough problems trying to forget the time he spent in “football Siberia”…But the team doesn’t need to help.

  58. jimmer2372 says: Dec 10, 2011 7:49 PM

    What would be really cool is if a QB had his nose moved from the center of his face to about an inch from his ear to have the NFL officials throw a flag. Now that would be a good thing.

  59. nekelund says: Dec 10, 2011 9:40 PM

    People who say Congress should back off have not been paying attention to Congress’ track record. Congressmen know that football is incredibly popular, that the NFL and other sports leagues rely on statutory exemptions from anti-trust law (and, thus, are beholden to legislators) and that holding hearings and passing laws to “repair” pro sports is an excellent, often bi-partisan, way to give the appearance of doing government work while avoiding truly important issues. Getting a law passed to “fix” the steroid problem, for example, gives legislators an excuse to waste taxpayer money on things that will look good and get passed while avoiding attempts to resolve actual problems, giving them non-controversial accomplishments to cite in re-election campaigns.

  60. cedarhillphysicaltherapy says: Dec 10, 2011 10:16 PM

    The requirement for independent neurologists to be present only on game day is short reaching. Concussions happen in practice. There’s more than enough $$$$ in the NFL to have an independent medical professional on each practice field and field of play for each team.

  61. stack44 says: Dec 11, 2011 12:14 AM

    Very imperfect solutions suggested so far. Some observer 300 feet away can’t tell the severity of the hit or how it affected the player. And players have proven they can hide symptoms from neurologists [major symptoms come later].
    But there are experimental helmets with accelerometers that measure impact severity and record/transmit it. I would also like to see experiments with some [thin] padding on the outside of helmets [maybe defensive players only?] so helmets are less of a weapon. More suspensions for helmet hits will also help.

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