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Players want concussion expert on sidelines, NFL has resisted

Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub walks off the field after a hard hit took his helmet off against the Denver Broncos in their NFL football game in Denver Reuters

The Evander Holyfielding of Matt Schaub, with his helmet playing the role of Mike Tyson, created plenty of buzz and groans and other stuff that makes events like that newsworthy.

But lost in the incident was the fact that Schaub, who was blasted by Broncos linebacker Joe Mays, missed only one play.

So how did Schaub, who was holding his head on the ground with both hands, get cleared to return, given that anyone with a functioning brain would suspect that Schaub may have suffered an injury to his?  The Texans claim that they followed NFL protocol.

“Our doctors . . . any time any player is on the field they go through the same protocol so the minute I went out there, [team doctor] Walt [Lowe] told me he’s fine, he’s got a big cut on his ear,” coach Gary Kubiak said after the game.  “So, obviously they took him off the field and I knew it would be a play or two before he came back, but he was obviously very sharp.  He was talking to me out there and Walt follows the same procedure all the time.”

With the NFL requiring an independent neurologist to clear a player to return from a concussion, why isn’t an independent neurologist involved in evaluating a player for a concussion?  And why does the NFL continue to allow the evaluation to occur amid the noise and confusion of the sideline at an NFL game?  In Schaub’s case, it just doesn’t seem like enough time was spent ensuring that Schaub is OK.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said during a Monday appearance on ESPN 980 in Washington (via SportsRadioInterviews.com) that the union has asked the league to have a “sideline concussion expert” at every game, and that the NFL is “fighting us on that, too.”

The league has done much to improve the handling of players who have been diagnosed with concussions.  But there’s plenty of room for improvement when it comes to diagnosing concussions.  And the various teams surely have little or no desire to see cumbersome procedures that take a star player to a locker room for a proper evaluation keep them out of games for extended stretches.

Even if, in the end, that’s the right thing to do.

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25 Responses to “Players want concussion expert on sidelines, NFL has resisted”
  1. thereisalwaysnextyear says: Sep 24, 2012 9:13 PM

    Walt followed procedure? Walt Disney?

  2. tdshouldbeinthehall says: Sep 24, 2012 9:19 PM

    He was holding his ears because they almost got ripped off not his head.

  3. bornsteel62 says: Sep 24, 2012 9:20 PM

    Roger Goodell- “Our #1 priority is player safety”

    …another brick in the wall of King Goodell’s legacy.

  4. blacknole08 says: Sep 24, 2012 9:21 PM

    When Schaub got hit by Mays, I thought he had been concussed for sure! But even though Schaub seemed pretty lucid, when he came back, the Texans offense played a bit conservative, allowing the Broncos and Peyton to find their rhythm and get back in the game.

    I think he was hurt but he was in his zone and wanted to finish the game. He just got his contract extension too. He’s playing with a chip on his shoulder this year.

  5. dldove77 says: Sep 24, 2012 9:23 PM

    Anything De Smith says should be verified by an independent neurologist before it’s passed on as news.

  6. csilojohnson says: Sep 24, 2012 9:24 PM

    The NFL handles concusions very poorly. Very transparent PR stunt is all I see. You cant fine away tge problem. They need to look at how the NHL handles them. Quite room eval., more realistic results etc.

  7. neilpountney says: Sep 24, 2012 9:25 PM

    Roger is doing everything in his power to protect the players. Another fairy tail by the Brothers Grimm!

  8. youngry says: Sep 24, 2012 9:37 PM

    In addition to Schaub how about Tony Romo yesterday? I’m no Doctor but to my untrained eye Romo appeared to be visibly unconscious after Gerald McCoy smashed him up around the helmet and yet Romo went right back in.

  9. nflfollower says: Sep 24, 2012 9:42 PM

    All a “concussion expert” can do is ask the player if he’s experiencing concussive symptoms. Sorry, but if there are actual signs of concussion that can be observed externally (rarely the case) any doctor can observe them. It doesn’t take a “concussion expert”. Independent neurologists would ask the players the same questions they are being asked by team doctors…. And they would get the same answers.

    This is all just more posturing for the court of public opinion, its a bunch of nonsense.

  10. chicagobtech says: Sep 24, 2012 9:52 PM

    Why are people surprised that Schaub went back in right away? He was holding his head because that’s where his now ripped-up ear is.

    If you want to make a case for somebody having a concussion going back into the game, find somebody who walked back to the sideline wobbly. If you see the guy walking back alert, looking around sharply, having a conversation with a trainer, and missing a chunk of his ear, I’m going to agree with the team’s medical staff: his brain is fine.

  11. kahnsbushymustache says: Sep 24, 2012 10:03 PM

    Here’s how that conversation went:

    DeMaurice Smith – “Roger, we want a concussion expert on the sidelines.”

    Roger Goodell – “Sure Dee – just as soon as you agree to start HGH blood testing…”

  12. packhawk04 says: Sep 24, 2012 10:05 PM

    These players control themselves. As many times as teams have lied to players to get them on the field, the players have lied to get back on the field. Im sick and tired of everyone trying to figure out ways to protect people from themselves.

  13. Xenu D. Alien says: Sep 24, 2012 10:05 PM

    The players who routinely lie to team doctors to stay in the game all of a sudden want concussion experts on the sidelines? Really?

  14. prrbrr says: Sep 24, 2012 10:08 PM

    If you watched the Eagles game this or last week, Celek and Vick definitively had their bells rung. Both were involved in plays where you could tell they were woozy upon trying to stand up. Something more has to be done to further protect the player

  15. onebucplace says: Sep 24, 2012 10:12 PM

    Maybe at the end of every tackle we can have a doctor check the players panties to make sure they didn’t wet themselves.

  16. randyschwimmer7 says: Sep 24, 2012 10:13 PM

    I still don’t understand why you guys keep talking about Schaub? The reply shows he was never touched in the head. I watched it over and over. The force of Mays hitting hitting him with his hands on his shoulder pads jarred his helmet loose. He grabbed his head because the pad on the inside hurt his earlobe.

  17. pjamdragon says: Sep 24, 2012 10:18 PM

    They should put 3 neurologists in a skybox watching monitors of every players brain in real time. (inside the helmet cat-scan)
    When 2 of 3 say “this guy needs to come out”, then he’s out.
    That is, if they really are concerned about concussion issues or do they care more about $$$.

  18. mgmac says: Sep 24, 2012 10:19 PM

    why is having a concussion expert on the sidelines a problem for the NFL if the commish goodell says he’s for player safety? perhaps he’s all talk and no substance. consider the lack of professional officials and the concussion expert not on the sideline lead me to my conclusion

  19. andrewfbrowne says: Sep 24, 2012 11:04 PM

    This site is becoming more and more anti-NFL in its tone, articles and the way they are not allowing comments to display that disagree with its point of view.

  20. yaryers says: Sep 24, 2012 11:37 PM

    Might there be a chance that he was holding his head in pain because he just lost part of his ear?

  21. philrat says: Sep 24, 2012 11:54 PM

    Florio is back on his soapbox again. He is on it so often that I think a good nickname for Florio is “Bubbles”.

    He his completely clueless as to Schaub’s actual medical condition so he assumes something sinister of course!

  22. draftazoid says: Sep 25, 2012 12:10 AM

    We want to see real football. It may be time for a new NFL league that doesn’t WIMPIFY the game I love.

  23. onebucplace says: Sep 25, 2012 12:50 AM

    What the league really needs on the sideline is a lawyer and before each play we can have every player sign a release form.

  24. kaf39 says: Sep 25, 2012 9:59 AM

    All for concussion specialists on the sideline.

  25. Michael Hopper says: Sep 25, 2012 12:59 PM

    randy, it is a myth that you must be hit in the head to suffer a concussion. A concussion is suffered when the brain moves violently within the skull. A jolt to the body can also cause this to take place.

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