NFL: Two players violated concussion protocols during Wild Card weekend

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During last Saturday’s 26-24 Saints victory over the Eagles, television cameras caught Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis pleading with the team’s medical staff to give him back his helmet and let him return to the game after suffering a concussion.

Lewis didn’t get back into the game, but Packers tackle David Bakhtiari did return to Sunday’s game against the 49ers in the middle of a concussion evaluation to take part in an extra point try. Both situations drew the attention of the league.

In a letter to medical personnel from all teams, NFL head, neck and spine committee chairmen Dr. Hunt Batjer and Dr. Richard Ellenbogen explained that both situations violated the league’s concussion protocols that players be held out of games while concussion evaluations go on and that they return to the locker room once a concussion has been diagnosed.

“On two occasions last weekend, and contrary to the advice of the team medical staffs, players who had been diagnosed with a concussion and therefore declared ineligible for play nonetheless refused to leave the sidelines as required by league concussion protocols. In one case, the player went back onto the field for one play before being removed from the game,” Batjer and Ellenbogen wrote, via the Associated Press. “We emphasize that we find no fault in how the team medical staffs conducted themselves last weekend. If a player refuses to follow your advice and leave the sidelines after being diagnosed with a concussion, we recommend that the head athletic trainer seek assistance from the player’s position coach (or another member of the coaching staff) or from another team official to remove the player from the sidelines as soon as possible.”

There will be no fines assessed for failure to follow the protocol in either case and Lewis is expected to play against the Seahawks this weekend after being cleared to get back on the practice field early this week.

33 responses to “NFL: Two players violated concussion protocols during Wild Card weekend

  1. Why aren’t the players being fined? That seems like the only deterrent to not following the advice of team doctors.

  2. I love New Orleans native Keenan Lewis… His heart bleeds Black and Gold and his competitive nature oozes out of his skin….Geauz Saints!!!
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  3. I dont understand why they have to leave the sideline? If a player gets a concussion and is ruled out for the rest of the game, why cant he watch and cheer on his team, and possibly provide valuable insight to the coaching staff? Maybe they should be forced to go to the locker room to change out of their uniform, but that just looks to me like a stupid rule. “If you get a concussion you cant watch the game, cheer on your team, celebrate with your team, etc”…

  4. Of course there weren’t any fines…2 of the leagues media darlings were involved…I’m not a Lions fan or a Steelers fan but I bet if they were involved in similar situations a fine would have been handed out.

  5. If there are no consequences to violating a ‘rule’, then its not a rule. Its now just a suggestion. Say goodbye to ‘concussion protocol’.

  6. This whole situation is ridiculous though, I know I’m getting downvoted but the second a player hits his head on the ground he gets evaluated for a concussion and is pretty much guaranteed to be out for the rest of the game.

    If Peyton Manning gets sacked and hits his head on the first play of the game what then? Is Fox required to pull him for the rest of the game for Osweiler? There would be riots in Denver.

  7. So the current players want better player safety rules regarding concussions, but those same players do not want to be evaluated for concussions during the game?

    Players have also lied about having concussions during the game so they can stay in.

    Those same players will find a way to sue the NFL for concussion related issues after they retire.

    Can’t have your cake and eat to kids.

    If you want better player safety, you need to be part of the solution, as abide by that as well, right?

    I know the NFL screwed up withholding data from decades ago, but the current crop of players cannot use that now since the cat is out of the bag, so-to-speak.

  8. In the case of Keenan Lewis, the violation of the protocol was technical at worst and had no apparent adverse effect the player’s health or safety. The Saints sorely needed Lewis against the Eagles. How many teams would have fudged the concussion protocols and yielded to the player’s desire to continue playing, especially when that player’s absence from the field resulted in the game appearing to slip away?

  9. i dont get what is so hard to understand about this. there is no fine, there was no penalty. and they have to leave the sideline at the beginning of the protocol, when the person suffers the injury because it hasn’t been fully diagnosed yet. they don’t want players getting inadvertently hit in the head, before they are done with the evaluations. and yes, if manning hit his head, and was either out for the play or the refs witnessed enough symptoms that they stopped play and sent him to the sideline he would then have to be evaluated.

  10. This whole thing is a joke. The entire protocol was the effect of the lawsuit. I feel sorry for the old players and for the current players. I played Hockey for years and I got a few concussions and I keep playing in pick up leagues!! I could not believe if I was in a playoff game in the NFL and the doctors told me I can’t play. Now I am not talking about the guys significantly injured. But they are paid millions of dollars, their careers are at stake and because of the lawsuit they have to sit and watch. Let them sign waivers before the season starts to what condition they agree to wave certain precautions. As usual the pendulum has swung too far. Let them play. I can tell you if it was me I would try my hardest not to be sat down and I think anyone here (except for the politically correct who feel they must protect people from themselves) would do the exact same thing!

  11. Just goes to show, the rules change come playoff time.

    As do the rules regarding offensive holding and defensive holding/PI, very few of which are ever called.

  12. No fine or suspension?…. This is going to happen again. You would think the NFL, after getting sued by former players, would take a little more serious approach to this issue.

  13. Reality is that there can’t be a serious protocol for concussion screening on the sideline… a serious screen means probable CT and 24 hours observation.

    The whole thing is the NFL attempting to look serious about it with a sideline visible dog and pony show for the cameras. The process has huge holes medically.

    Players want to play… they know the risks are serious, yet they still do it…. and they make millions… the US expected lifespan is 78… for NFLers, it’s between 55 and 59 …. they give up 22 years of their lives…. but they all still do it.

  14. I don’t think it’s fair to fine a player who may not be thinking straight at the time. But their coaches should be fined. The rule is the rule, and coaches should be held accountable.

  15. What about the Nick Hardwick/Chargers situation?

    I’m a devout Chargers fan, but everyone in the world could tell he was concussed and allowed to remain “eligible to return” to the game.

    His replacement was able to fill his role nicely, thus Hardwick never made it back onto the field (that I know of), but I’m very concerned that the coaching staff may have tried to get him back out there if there was a problem snapping balls.

    The team should be fined or otherwise punished for circumventing concussion protocols. Not the player, however, as obviously a concussed player is not in the right frame of mind to make wise decisions.

  16. its not the player who should have been fined, it is THE TEAM that should have been fined, for not following proper protocol. This, of course, is why there were no fines issued. The league will fine a player for not pulling their socks up, but the team violates a rule? that’s money out of the OWNERS pocket, can’t have that.

  17. Didn’t know that, and didn’t care.
    Now that I know, still no care.
    Why?
    The players don’t really care because they are afraid they might lose their positions.
    Ask ALEX SMITH.
    And the league have the PR ROOM to spin it, just make sure the ratings are in and the checks ready to cash.

  18. I was massively concussed by a 1st-gen airbag a couple years ago. While I can’t remember ER the ensuing next few hours, from what I’m told, I was one confused and distressed hombre.

    A concussion is a generalized brain injury, folks. A. Brain. Injury. An I jury to the brain. As such, it affects cognitive processing, emotions, judgement, response times, and so on.

    You can’t blame players (who are jacked up on adrenaline to boot) for doing irrational things in that situation. Their give-a-damn is busted, lol. Teams and the league need to adjust the protocol to account for this.

    Honestly…. based on my own experiences, the research I did afterwards, and my statistically significantly higher risk for all manner of mental ugliness as I age…. I think concussions will be the death of football as we know it. This is serious stuff. We have guys out there ruining themselves on the most fundamental level for our amusement. Yeah, that’s ok. Not. Changes are coming in the next decades as the medical profession gets the tools and data to image the concussed brain and understand how BAD it actually can be.

    The fact that concussed players are back on the field a week later is exhibit A. That’s INSANE.

  19. Meanwhile, Lynch (though postponed) was fined $50,000 for not talking to the media. If the NFL is serious about this, then they need to punish the TEAM a serious amount. Can’t punish the player. Don’t want to follow a rule put in place to avoid these serious lawsuits (masked in player safety), then you are going to be fined $1M. Yeah, may sound like a lot, but all of these basic fines are like fining me $100. Do I like it, no. Will it change my behavior, probably not.

  20. This is all about the NFL trying to lower the settlement they are going to have to pay to injured players, both those already retired and future retirees.

    The truth is that every time these guys smash their heads against another helmet, a pad or the turf, they are damaging their brains. Maybe only a little bit at a time, but the cumulative effects are severe, as we are seeing in the brain autopsies of the original players who are reaching the ends of their lives now.

    The “concussion” diagnosis is a device to distract from this fundamental fact. They are pretending there is just this one dangerous condition that they can identify and treat.

    I love football, but it may be facing an existential threat here.

  21. I love some of these comments. Somehow, in some people’s universe, the Saints are a league darling just 1 year removed from the very same league imposing a death penalty on them for absolutely nothing. At least nothing that everybody else doesn’t do. All of the league’s evidence was shown to be fabricated. This is just more inane posturing by the NFL to mitigate the damage of their past sins. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by removing these players from the sideline during the playoffs. They have bled for this moment for most of their lives and now they should detach? Ridiculous. That said, if a player actually makes it back onto the field, there should be major ramifications.

  22. Randomguy, Thrillomania and Uglynora have it correct.
    1. It is a dog and pony show. No one could diagnose a concussion on the sideline. They do not have the equipment. If someone is staggering around or babbling, that is a different matter.

    2. If they fine the team, you betcha they’ll get those guys off the field, since that is the rule and because if you suspect someone of having a concussion get them to the freakin’ hospital!

    3. Oh, of course it is NFL posturing, I await every “Announcement from Goodell at 8!” No telling what goofiness will come up.

    4. BTW don’t give me down votes or I will feel bullied and tell on you. (Sorry so sorry couldn’t resist.)

  23. Talk about opening the barn door. If there is no penalty, fine or suspensions involved then what is to keep every team from encouraging their players to perhaps “be a man and get back out there”.

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