It’s easy to wag a finger at the NFL for not requiring teams to do a better job of yanking players who may have suffered concussions from games. But there’s a potentially significant consequence to erring on the side of safety.
What if the player doesn’t have a concussion?
In that case, a key player (like the starting quarterback) could be unavailable during key stretches of a game, while he’s screened for a concussion that he ultimately is deemed to not have.
And with the determination of who may or may not have a concussion hinging on subjective observations, the question of whether a quarterback is removed from the game to be checked for a concussion could prompt debates and suspicions that the player is being flagged for a concussion test for reasons unrelated to protecting him from harm.
So what should the NFL do? The answer could come from an objective method for determining whether a player has absorbed the kind of blow to the head that could result in a concussion, like the HIT system developed by North Carolina professor and NFL concussion consultant Kevin Guskiewicz.
Regardless, the NFL’s current procedures aren’t removing players with concussions from games. To ensure that all players who may have concussions are protected from suffering a second one, some who may not have concussions will have to be taken out of games to be checked.
There’s no easy solution to this problem. But if/when a player suffers a concussion, isn’t removed from the game, suffers another concussion, and has a serious injury as a result of suffering two concussions, there could be an overreaction.