It seemed odd, to say the least, that Texans quarterback Matt Schaub missed only one play after losing a piece of his ear on a hit from Broncos linebacker Joe Mays that knocked Schaub’s helmet off, Rock-Em-Sock-Em-Robots style.
The team defended the decision to let Schaub return, claiming that it followed the league’s concussion protocol.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that the league doesn’t necessarily agree, given that the full testing process takes roughly eight to 10 minutes.
No action will be taken against the Texans, but Mort says the league will be watching.
The league should do more than watch. The Schaub situation represents further proof of the need for an independent physician on each sideline of every game, who has the duty of administering the concussion test and the ability to override the judgment of doctor’s who are hired and paid by the teams.
Until that loophole is closed, there’s a chance that a player who has suffered a concussion will be sent back onto the field, where he could suffer a second concussion — and a potentially severe outcome.
Now that the officials have returned, the NFLPA should focus on pushing the NFL to make these changes in order to protect a player from his team, his team’s doctor, and from the player himself.
Though the league is trying to ensure that a key player won’t be kept out of an important portion of a game when he doesn’t actually have a concussion, the league’s supposed commitment to safety will be incomplete without an improved (and truly independent) procedure for spotting concussions in the first place.