Over the last four years, the NFL has done a good job when it comes to ensuring that players with concussions aren’t returned to the field prematurely. Of course, politics and the legal system had a little something to do with that.
But politics and the legal system have yet to force the league to ensure that all players who potentially have suffered concussions will be removed from play until a proper concussion examination has been conducted.
The latest example of a guy who had a concussion but who wasn’t checked for a concussion until after the game in which the concussion was sustained comes from Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie. Dom Cosentino of NJ.com chronicles a frustrating exercise of evasive answers and double-talk regarding whether Cromartie had a concussion examination during the game.
Cromartie said he had a concussion exam after colliding with teammate Ed Reed. A Jets spokesman said Cromartie was given only a general medical exam. Which created the impression that the independent neurologist assigned to the game didn’t deem a concussion exam necessary. Which the Jets later denied.
None of which makes much sense.
Whether it’s accidental or deliberate, some NFL players currently slip through the cracks when it comes to spotting concussions — possibly because the league and its teams want to avoid keeping healthy players out of action, especially during key moments of key games. Too many bright lines in this context would potentially result in a healthy franchise quarterback being sidelined for 10 minutes or so of real time during crunch time of a postseason game.
Still, the current situation exposes the NFL to future litigation from players who claim that the league didn’t do enough to diagnose their concussions as they happened. It also sets the stage for a player to suffer a second concussion while the first one is still fresh, which could lead to a serious brain injury.