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Holmgren: “It’s unfair” to criticize Browns on McCoy’s concussion

Mike Holmgren, Eric Mangini AP

Browns President Mike Holmgren attempted to, in his words, “Set the record as straight as I can” in a press conference today, after the team has been widely criticized for its handling of quarterback Colt McCoy’s concussion on Thursday.

Specifically, Holmgren stood up for the Browns’ medical staff and head coach Pat Shurmur for allowing McCoy to return to the game following a head-to-head hit from Steelers linebacker James Harrison.

“Our medical staff and our training staff, they are the best in football,” Holmgren said. “These guys are really good. So one of the things that is troubling to me in this whole process is that they’re getting slammed a bit, along with the head coach. . . . And it’s unfair.”

Holmgren said the Browns’ medical staff hadn’t seen the Harrison-on-McCoy hit and only went out to check on McCoy when they were alerted to it by others on the sideline. Holmgren said that when the medical staff reached McCoy, he was lucid and complaining only about pain in his hand, not his head.

“When the injury took place on the field, at that time the question came up, did the doctors see the impact on the play? They did not. And our trainers did not,” Holmgren said. “They were all working, as is typical in a game. They were working on other injured players in the bench area or behind players. So they did not see the play. They heard the crowd reaction, someone said, ‘Colt’s down.’”

Holmgren said that the Browns have met with league and union officials about the incident. He said the franchise will not be facing any type of discipline for its handling of McCoy, but that the Browns do want to make sure they’re doing everything that the league and the union think they can and should do about concussions.

“We’ve met with the NFL as well as the union doctors,” Holmgren said. “There’s a lot of speculation, there’s a lot of things that have been written and said, and the reason that we waited as an organization to have this meeting is that we had to have those other meetings before. . . . I don’t expect anything to happen in a punitive manner, but it was a good meeting.”

Six days after McCoy’s concussion, Holmgren said he hasn’t spoken with McCoy but is optimistic that McCoy will be OK.

“He still has a headache,” Holmgren said. “But other than that, from what they tell me, he’s good.”

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59 Responses to “Holmgren: “It’s unfair” to criticize Browns on McCoy’s concussion”
  1. dirtyjersey9er says: Dec 14, 2011 12:28 PM

    No it’s not unfair to criticize the handling. Semi-pro leagues and high school staffs could detect a concussion quicker than the Browns staff did.

  2. Andre's Johnson says: Dec 14, 2011 12:29 PM

    So when you say the Browns’ handling of the situation has been “widely criticized” you mean “criticized by profootballtalk because we have an unnatural interest in head injuries and feel like it’s our job to be the injury report police” right?

  3. td40 says: Dec 14, 2011 12:29 PM

    Watching his press conference right now. He’s basically giving lip service, not directly answering questions, and saying some really dumb things like (and I’m paraphrasing) “We hired a very competent young coach who will be here for years.”

    Ugh. Get this guy out of Cleveland ASAP.

  4. otrd13 says: Dec 14, 2011 12:29 PM

    ok its not the doctors fault. than its your coaches fault who DEFINITELY saw the hit to let him back in without being evaluated for a concussion.

  5. rpiotr01 says: Dec 14, 2011 12:30 PM

    If he’s still having headaches 4 days after the fact then no, Mike, he is decidedly NOT good.

    Even that choice of words – “he has a headache” – is almost dismissive of the problem. Holmgren is old school, I get it. But this ain’t the 80′s or 90′s any more. Organizations need to take these injuries more seriously. I’m not going to blame people for things they didn’t know 20 years ago, but now we do know. Everyone knows. And the Browns should be held accountable for failing to act when they DO know better.

  6. takingbacksundays5 says: Dec 14, 2011 12:31 PM

    What a load of BS. Was ANYONE on the Browns staff actually watching the game?? If so, this excuse doesn’t fly whatsoever.

  7. realnflmaster says: Dec 14, 2011 12:33 PM

    This guys a joke. Made a living off Brett Favre and Andy Reid’s coaching then Shaun Alexander and Walter Jones running the rock.

    Hires a joke of a head coach and a horrible, useless, cover-2 loving defensive coordinator.

  8. elroyjetsson says: Dec 14, 2011 12:35 PM

    We thought he was unconscious because his pinky got bent back.

  9. oldbrowndawg says: Dec 14, 2011 12:37 PM

    I hear what Holmgren is saying, but I still think it would have been prudent to allow Seneca Wallace to continue the drive toward the Steeler goal line since he had just completed a pass to Evan Moore down to the Pittsburgh 7 yard line. Why rush McCoy back into the game? Two handoffs to Peyton Hillis and/or a jump ball pass to Moore in the end zone would have been preferable to hoping that McCoy was alright. As we saw, he wasn’t, as he threw a back-breaking interception just two plays after coming back in. This has more to do with being smart and playing situational football than it does with the legal implications of their decision.

  10. bobwhitequail says: Dec 14, 2011 12:38 PM

    As head coach in Seattle Holmgren defended and protected his players (employees) to a fault. Guys like Jerramy Stevens and Korne Robinson were given 4th and 5th chances and he defended them when the press and fans were criticizing his hand-picked players.

    One has to wonder if he isn’t doing the same thing here. That is, protecting his hand-picked employees from outside scrutiny.

  11. myopinionisrighterthanyours says: Dec 14, 2011 12:39 PM

    “Our medical and training staff are the best … just don’t inspect our facilities.”

    Anyway it’s not the Browns handling that’s broken, folks. As repeatedly pointed out on this site, it’s the rules, and the lack of requirement for independent neurologists. Maybe this will make the league wake up and change the procedures and whose hands it is in. Can’t leave it in the hands of players who are worried about their next paycheck or doctors whose paychecks are supplied by the team.

  12. twitter:Chapman_Jamie says: Dec 14, 2011 12:41 PM

    Holmgren is such a blowhard. This guy was such an over rated coach and he has been awful in this new role. For the life of me I will never understand the infatuation with this guy.

  13. ortonwhiskeycrew says: Dec 14, 2011 12:41 PM

    Its now the fans job to be injury police because the Browns medical and coaching staff on the sidelines are completely incompetent.

  14. godofwine330 says: Dec 14, 2011 12:44 PM

    Holmgren’s right. Trainers just aren’t sitting around like the casual fan watching games. They are fixing up players for the game, getting cramps out, rubbing hamstrings and such. The heard the “OOOhhhh” and were told Colt’s down. Colt complained about his hand hurting so they checked out his hand.

    Too much has been made of this. Personally, I saw that Colt was “out of it” from his eyes when he got back in the game after Seneca’s completetion, but I have the benefit of HDTV and multiple camera angles that focus on a number of things.

    In the end, if a guy is blown up and grabs his ankle then trainers are going to tend to his ankle. What Holmgren says sounds believable.

  15. shaner329 says: Dec 14, 2011 12:45 PM

    So the coaches that were standing right next to the medical staff who evaluated Colt’s hand, never at one point mentioned to them “Hey, Colt just got rocked in a helmet to helmet hit, check for a concussion.”

    There are no excuses, you messed up.

  16. grogansheroes says: Dec 14, 2011 12:46 PM

    Why?

  17. rowdymon says: Dec 14, 2011 12:47 PM

    So the QB is flat out on the ground for an extended period of time and everything thinks it’s because of his hand? I’m a Browns fan, but BS.

  18. ragingyinzer says: Dec 14, 2011 12:48 PM

    Why do you have to see the hit to determine whether or not he had a concussion??? Should have been able to determine that he needed to be tested within about 10 seconds after seeing him on the field. McCoy was lying prone when the trainers got to him and clearly did not look “lucid” when they sat him up. Maybe they need to buy the photo at NFL.com.

    Lame excuse, Holmgren. Almost as bad as your criticism of the refs after Super Bowl XL.

    This just proves that the Browns aren’t just an awful team on the field. They’re an awful organization from top to bottom and one that actually endangers its players.

  19. dohpey28 says: Dec 14, 2011 12:50 PM

    So no member of the medical staff or a trainer saw the hit? Not even when it was replayed 25 times on the scoreboards? There’s around a 100 people on the sideline, I am sure 1 of them should’ve said something.

  20. bubba9er says: Dec 14, 2011 12:53 PM

    Maybe the league should take over all the medical staffs of all the teams and have one of their “officials” upstairs review each play for 15 minutes to ensure the safety of each collision. Then no one can accuse the coaches in situations like this. Maybe Roger Goodell should just have a YES/NO switch in his office to make all the decisions in all the games every week. There should be a button he can push that causes a flag to fly when he sees a penalty too.

  21. makimaguro says: Dec 14, 2011 12:55 PM

    Why is everyone so worried these days about a guy getting his bell rung? Colt McCoy makes a ton of money to play football. It’s a violent sport. If fans don’t want concussions – watch soccer or poker.

    Colt’s daddy needs to stay out this stuff – not in college anymore. Making big money to perform now.

  22. bubba9er says: Dec 14, 2011 12:55 PM

    Like on the Buffalo Wild Wings Commercials.

  23. santolonius says: Dec 14, 2011 12:58 PM

    even if the trainers didn’t see the hit they saw mccoy thrashing around on the field. and the booth saw the replay. and furthermore if they didn’t see the hit, that’s all the more reason to administer concussion test and be cautious. i hate to say it, but i think holmgren is lying.

  24. koenig61 says: Dec 14, 2011 1:00 PM

    You’re joking right Mike Holmgren? Unfair criticisim? Go back through the posts here and see what was said about how the Steelers handled Troys and Hines concussions. They were soundly criticized by the mediators on this site as if they were doing harm to their players, And the Steelersd didnt even let their players back in the game!! Yet your team let Colt return to the game one play later and you think you are being treated unfairly by the press? Give me a break. The steelers did the right thing and they got way worse criticism than the Brownies did. Even if the trainers didnt see the hit, the head coach did and he should have informed the trainers. Or hey look at the jumbotron, im sure it was replayed several times.

  25. giggetygiggety says: Dec 14, 2011 1:03 PM

    Holmgren says the “Medical Staff” didn’t see the play. What about watching the replay on the big screen? Give me a break.

  26. kmart0319 says: Dec 14, 2011 1:09 PM

    Players do not lay on the ground on their back from a hit to the hand. When the trainers were sent out, they should have known it was because of a hit to the head. Shurmer should have also questioned if he was checked for a concussion after the hit when they said he was ok so quickly…

  27. jackblackshairyback says: Dec 14, 2011 1:09 PM

    I think many of you need to listen to the whole press conference. Holmgren didnt say “we did nothing wrong.” He said the training staff SHOULD have been made aware, but no one did. From the coaches, to the observer up in the booth, to the players on the field with Colt afterwards. It wasnt until after the game and in the locker room did Colt start complaining of any concussion symptoms, at which time Joe Thomas told him to go see the doctors. He went on to say a more reliable system needs to be in place to make sure those who need to know are made aware.

  28. bobwhitequail says: Dec 14, 2011 1:10 PM

    If Holmgren really wants to help players and not just blindly protect his hierarchy that he set up (an extension of his own ego) he should take some responsibility.

    All he has to say is something like, “we missed that one. We think we can do better so we are going to have an independent observer whose only job is to watch for concussions at the next game. “

  29. freewayjim says: Dec 14, 2011 1:10 PM

    This is just another chapter in the unmitigated disaster known as the Cleveland Browns 2.0.

  30. jackblackshairyback says: Dec 14, 2011 1:11 PM

    kmarto….they should KNOW he was hit in the head because he was lying on the ground? Why not an ankle or a knee? Tell me who these potential trainers are that have ESP, and I’ll hire them myself.

  31. stangbang says: Dec 14, 2011 1:11 PM

    Browns fan here. Holmgren can’t leave Cleveland fast enough. In fact, I think I’ll buy him a suitcase for Christmas. Should I go high-end and get him a Tumi, or save some dough on a Samsonite?

  32. t16rich says: Dec 14, 2011 1:14 PM

    Unfair? Go coach a peewee team, that word isn’t used in the Pros.

  33. cannonballdookie says: Dec 14, 2011 1:16 PM

    They are so good that they can test for a concussion in under 2 minutes? I don’t think so walrus.

  34. mazenblue says: Dec 14, 2011 1:21 PM

    If his medical staff is the best, this wouldn’t have been a story.

  35. tombradyswig says: Dec 14, 2011 1:23 PM

    it was unfair to let the daggone kid go back in the game!!!!
    He was obviously out cold, even my dead granny could’ve told you that!!!

  36. ravensruleandharbaughisgod says: Dec 14, 2011 1:23 PM

    Can you be fined in the NFL for being a bald-faced (well, bald too) liar! I am the walrus….coo coo cachoo!

  37. ChopBlockMurph says: Dec 14, 2011 1:29 PM

    godofwine330 says:
    Too much has been made of this. Personally, I saw that Colt was “out of it” from his eyes when he got back in the game after Seneca’s completetion, but I have the benefit of HDTV and multiple camera angles that focus on a number of things.
    ======================
    So let me understand: a staff of trained medical professionals was examining McCoy in person on the sideline, yet you were better equipped to diagnose his concussion from your couch thanks to your trusty HDTV? Am I getting that right?

  38. tweekend says: Dec 14, 2011 1:32 PM

    I’m not a Browns fan so I have no motive for defending them, but why is no one complaining about the officials on this? A few weeks ago they were instructed by the league that if they say a player with concussion like symptoms they were to have them removed and examined right? OK, so say the browns medical staff didn’t see the hit, clearly the officials did. They completely failed on their part of this thing. Yeah, I don’t buy the teams BS, but the officiating crew doesn’t come out of this smelling like a bed of roses either.

  39. mikeholmgrenwearsstretchpants says: Dec 14, 2011 1:42 PM

    So it’s not the coaching staff’s fault, not the medical staff’s fault, then who’s fault is it?

    Mike Holmgren: “Obvioiusly it is Ryan Pontbriand’s fault.”

  40. purpleisreallypinkyouknow says: Dec 14, 2011 1:57 PM

    He’s just pissed it came to this and he’s covering his tracks.

    He got used to BrINT Favre who was dumb enough to go back into the games after every time he had his eggs scrambled.

  41. xd2005 says: Dec 14, 2011 1:57 PM

    Just goes to show an independent party whose sole responsibility is to monitor potential concussions is needed. Obviously team medical staffs are too overwhelmed with injuries to effectively monitor the health of the players on the field.

  42. theytukrjobs says: Dec 14, 2011 2:07 PM

    Oh, so the Browns judge a concussion by “seeing the hit”. I see. No incompetence there after all.

  43. tinbender2000 says: Dec 14, 2011 2:10 PM

    “Our Staph infections are the best…. Um, our medical staff…”

  44. tavisteelersfan says: Dec 14, 2011 2:19 PM

    I think it is unfair Harrison got Suspended … now what.

    How do teams like the Browns with McCoy or Charges with Dielman get off claiming ignorance as their defence.

    I say Shurmer, OC and QB Coach get a game off like Harrison has to.

    They may not have known, but they sure should have before sending him back in.

  45. clinttaurus says: Dec 14, 2011 2:25 PM

    on a related-note, McCoy no longer has concussion-like symtoms…but he does now have a staph infection in his head…

  46. fringetastic says: Dec 14, 2011 2:46 PM

    It raises a fair point that would have to be addressed even if there is an independent neurologist on the sideline: Watching every player, every play, for a hit that concusses someone – who is going to do it? You can say the brain doc will, but what if he (or she) is already examining someone on the sidelines? How would that doc watch the QB, the linemen and the receiver doing a fly pattern?

  47. comeonnowguys says: Dec 14, 2011 2:57 PM

    “When the injury took place on the field, at that time the question came up, did the doctors see the impact on the play? They did not. And our trainers did not,” Holmgren said. “They were all working, as is typical in a game. They were working on other injured players in the bench area or behind players. So they did not see the play. They heard the crowd reaction, someone said, ‘Colt’s down.’”

    This is ridiculous. Of course the training staff were working on other things. It’s not their job to monitor the quarterback all day.

    The coaches, however, saw their starting QB get rocked in the head. It’s on them to mention that to their staff.

    Suspend Shurmur.

  48. cbrady2k says: Dec 14, 2011 3:37 PM

    Tebow can’t get a concussion, his head is surrounded by a protective halo.

  49. lbcoach34 says: Dec 14, 2011 3:46 PM

    Big Show is wrong.

    Someone has to stand-up, be a man, and take accountability.

    Shurmur won’t do it, and hasn’t done it – and now I see why….Holmgren – his mentor.

    Sometimes, the only way to progress or move forward is to be wrong….and admit when you are in fact – WRONG!

    Get Gruden!

  50. toolkien says: Dec 14, 2011 4:03 PM

    Holmgren was a very good coach, helped make Favre who he was. But he wasn’t a good GM in Seattle, and why he had to bring in Ted Thompson from Green Bay (who eventually went back as GM in GB) as an assistant. And now if this is his M.O. as a president, I think H.C. is his high water mark of competency.

    His version of the West Coast Offense worked in both GB and Seattle, Reid took it out to Phillie and has had a measure of success, and it even pinged back into the NFC North in Minnesota (the 2009 Viking offense was about as close to the Holmgren scheme I’ve seen since Holmgren left GB). It wasn’t until Favre decided to “simplify” and crack out the Favreball that things went down hill for the Vikings at the end of 2009 and all of 2010.

  51. bigdonnie76 says: Dec 14, 2011 4:26 PM

    That’s what happens when your QB is as frail as the Tin-Man. Somebody Call Donavon and get Colt a can of Cambells Chunky

  52. steelersmichele says: Dec 14, 2011 5:49 PM

    I almost fell off the couch when Ben drew that flag. He never benefits from those calls. However, I do agree with Taylor that he shouldn’t be fined, although he should be glad it wasn’t against Brady–the fine would have been higher.

    I do have one question for Taylor. When you were voting for he new CBA, one of the issues was Goodells sole ability to suspend and fine players. You voted for it, so really, you shouldn’t complain about something you agreed to.

  53. rcali says: Dec 14, 2011 6:09 PM

    At some point Holmgren is going to figure out this franchise is cursed. Sucks for the fans.

  54. dave1961 says: Dec 15, 2011 12:05 AM

    It was the Browns fans that were to blame. We are also to blame for dropped passes and bad snacks we are to blame for bad snaps. We are to blame for following a lousy team…. Mike Holmgren sucker punched the fans and media and threatened that any criticism of the the team we will not get playoff tickets…. What playoffs? We never been to the playoffs except one time in 2002. We need a credible owner until then we are the clowns in Randy Lerner’s circus….

  55. pravin68 says: Dec 15, 2011 12:27 AM

    So if the league is really that concerned with player safety , how about some fines/suspensions for a clearly negligent case like this? WHen I saw Seneca Walalce replaced by McCoy, I immediately placed a bet against a TD not happening. McCoy’s eyes looked so glazed, it was too obvious to ignore. Browns management is garbage.

  56. nflfan877 says: Dec 15, 2011 6:33 AM

    As a Seattle resident, Holmgren is entirely a class act. He stands to gain nothing from defending the doctors, he could easily just make them the ginny-pig and fire them and look like the hero.

    I don’t see why anyone is mad at him here?

  57. gassiusclay says: Dec 15, 2011 9:16 AM

    How did their medical staff not see the hit? McCoy is only their starting QB. Even if medical personnel didn’t see the hit, they should have been alerted by one of the 100 Browns employees who did…saying they didn’t see it and saying that he only complained about hand pain is a terrible excuse. I am myself a physician, and it doesn’t take a genius practitioner to understand that as a medical professional, it is your job to determine the state of your patient…not the job of the patient to tell you what’s going on.

  58. taudaddy79 says: Dec 15, 2011 11:06 AM

    “Our medical staff and our training staff, they are the best in football,” Holmgren said.

    Signed,

    The Next Case of Staph Infection

  59. critter69 says: Dec 15, 2011 1:23 PM

    I received a concussion in an auto accident several decades ago.

    No headache that day. None the next day. None the next day. None the next day. None the next day. None the next day until on the way home from work. Then a MONSTER, pulsing, headache hit, and lasted, continuously, for 12 days. Then it let up for a while, came back, let up, came back, let up – you get the idea.

    The day of the accident, there was a ruptured gas tank in one of the vehicles, and gasoline was flowing down the street. I saw it, warned people to not have a lit match and/or cigarette in the area, then (while standing next to the flowing gasoline), I promptly lit a cigarette. And even then, I was not diagnosed with a concussion until a couple of weeks after the accident.

    Unless and until you have a concussion, you have NO idea what it is like. Just as no one who has never experienced a broken bone can understand the pain. Or an appendectomy. Or a kidney stone.

    And no one who has not experienced blindness, or been around someone who has total blindness, can even begin to understand blindness.

    The old saying used to be “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.” Maybe it should be updated to “Don’t pooh-pooh it until you’ve actually experienced it.”

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