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.