The NFL has tremendously improved the procedures for dealing with players who have concussions. But the league has still yet to perfect the process of applying the “concussion” label in the first place.
Case in point: Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain played with a concussion in Week Two at Miami.
For some reason, no one noticed that anything was wrong with McClain. “It was something we thought might have been the case after the game,” coach Dennis Allen said, via Jerry McDonald of BayAreaNewsGroup.com. “But it didn’t seem like it was a major one. . . . It’s kind of a precautionary deal that we’re going through the whole process to make sure he’s fine.”
“I’ve been playing for a while and you always take hard hits,” McClain said. “Obviously the doctors saw something. There was a time where I thought, ‘I don’t feel like myself.’”
And that’s the time when the player needs to speak up. That’s precisely what Florio Jr. did 12 days ago, after he got hit in the head by a pulling lineman and immediately knew something wasn’t right.
But while the players need to know when to tap out, the league must look continuously for ways to spot players who may be inclined to not leave the field. The officials are supposed to be looking for things like this, but the replacements already have their hands full, and then some. The league also now has a Certified Athletic Trainer in the booth looking for any evidence of anything out of order — and it’s obvious that in McClain’s case the process failed to spot that he needed to be evaluated.
The problem is that McClain was in a precarious position. If he had suffered another brain injury while playing with the one he already suffered, he could have ended the day with a serious problem.