In response to the incidents that arose last week, with Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis remaining on the sideline after he’d been diagnosed with a concussion and Packers tackle David Bakhtiari actually finding a way back into the game before doctors had conducted a concussion evaluation, the league has not shifted the entire concussion protocol to the locker room. Yet.
During ESPN’s Saturday edition of Sunday NFL Countdown, Chris Mortensen said that the league would now require in the aftermath of the Lewis and Bakhtiari situations that the concussion protocol be administered in the locker room.
Per a league source, that’s not the case.
If a player is determined via initial sideline protocol to be possibly concussed, he must be taken to the locker room as soon as possible to the locker room for a full evaluation. The initial protocol, however, can still be administered on the sideline.
The initial protocol consists of the six “go-no go” questions established by the league’s Madden rule. Sometimes (like on Saturday after the first big hit absorbed by Seahawks receiver Percy Harvin), a closer look is taken in the locker room before the player is cleared. More often, clearance comes on the sideline.
While it would be ideal for all concussion evaluations to occur in the locker room, away from the noise, the elements, and the general chaos of the sideline, conservative application of the “go-no go” questions would result in plenty of healthy players being kept out of action unnecessarily.
The balance nevertheless continues to be a delicate one, especially in playoff games. Key players need to be available to play, but the teams need to remain vigilant about ensuring that brains are properly protected.