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Jamaal Charles: I didn’t want to go through the concussion protocol


When Jamaal Charles scored a touchdown Sunday against San Diego, he had a violent collision with Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers, sending both of them to the turf. Flowers left the game with a concussion, but Charles kept playing.

Maybe he shouldn’t have. Charles said on ESPN Radio that he was seeing flashing lights afterward, which is one of the symptoms of a concussion.

“It definitely hurt,” Charles said. “It’s like, I woke up — I mean, like, a couple plays later I was seeing light bulbs, like, light bulbs around my eyes, and I was trying to catch them. But I was in the game so I was like, ‘Alright, let’s get the ball and run again.'”

So why wasn’t Charles removed from the game? Charles said he tried to avoid having to go through the league’s concussion protocol. Charles previously suffered a concussion in January, in the Chiefs’ playoff loss to the Colts, and his absence from the rest of that game may have been the difference between the Chiefs winning and losing in Indianapolis. As a result, Charles said he doesn’t want to go through the concussion protocol because he wants to be able to keep playing to help his team.

“I didn’t have a concussion but it definitely was a hit that shocked me. But I don’t think I had to go through the concussion protocols and all that. I didn’t want to go through that again because of what happened in the playoffs. I was definitely fine, I think I came out pretty good,” Charles said.

It’s admirable that Charles wants to help his team, but it’s worrisome that NFL players still try to avoid a concussion diagnosis. Charles may think he was “definitely fine,” but that determination should have been made by a doctor.

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59 Responses to “Jamaal Charles: I didn’t want to go through the concussion protocol”
  1. calhounlambeau says: Oct 22, 2014 9:43 AM

    And in 2045 he will be part of another lawsuit.

  2. jjb0811 says: Oct 22, 2014 9:44 AM

    Smelling salts to the rescue!

  3. ravishingronald says: Oct 22, 2014 9:44 AM

    Sounds like a guy that has put on his big boy pants. He knows the risk and accepts it, striving towards his gaol of winning.

  4. wareagle1961 says: Oct 22, 2014 9:44 AM

    2034 PFT Headline

    Jamaal Charles sues NFL for not doing more for player safety

  5. enkay85 says: Oct 22, 2014 9:45 AM

    Nothing new here. We hear about players lying about symptoms ALL the time.

    …and then they get older and sue the NFL.

  6. marvsleezy says: Oct 22, 2014 9:45 AM

    Andy Reid will probably tell him you did everything we could possibly ask of you, including playing with a concussion – Now just dont talk about and we are all good.

  7. GettingNoRespect says: Oct 22, 2014 9:49 AM

    I think the fact that he didn’t think that was a concussion is probably proof that it was a concussion, and probably not his first.

  8. jxt2521 says: Oct 22, 2014 9:50 AM

    ‘Charles may think he was “definitely fine,” but that determination should have been made by a doctor.’

    Or by this site which likes to rip on coaches for using actual medical terms like ‘mild concussion’.

  9. oriolesvsravens says: Oct 22, 2014 9:55 AM

    Heard it live. Very awkward and cringe worthy interview.

  10. kd75 says: Oct 22, 2014 9:56 AM

    Then he can’t sue the NFL in 25 years.

  11. Getoffmylawn! says: Oct 22, 2014 9:56 AM

    You are not a doctor Mr. Charles. These protocols are in place to protect you from yourself and your coaching staff. Let the proper people check you out. If you are OK they will send you back in the game. If you are seeing flashes that aren’t actually there, you may need to take a breather and let things settle.

  12. shipitplease says: Oct 22, 2014 9:59 AM

    It’s guys like Charles and Urlacher that prove these guys aren’t paid for their intelligence. Somebody is going to end up dying on the field and it will be their own stupidity for trying to avoid going through the precautionary tests.

  13. bullcharger says: Oct 22, 2014 10:01 AM

    Why on earth would he say all that. He could have just said it was a hard hit, but he felt fine afterward. He already personally decided to play through a concussion (which is dumb). Why now cause a problem for his team.

  14. judsonjr says: Oct 22, 2014 10:03 AM

    And even if he doesn’t sue the NFL, someday his kids will.

  15. johngaltx says: Oct 22, 2014 10:03 AM

    Like like Mr. Charles will wearing “big boy” diapers much sooner than the rest of us. I guess the term “lame brain” is not going away any time soon.

  16. kc571 says: Oct 22, 2014 10:11 AM

    Too bad he wasn’t fine last year vs the Colts. And you know Flowers tried his best to lay that hit.

  17. thelastwordyaheard says: Oct 22, 2014 10:11 AM

    live fast, die young

  18. cranialdisturbance says: Oct 22, 2014 10:11 AM

    He made an adult choice and like an adult he has to accept the consequences of his choice whether now or in the future. I can respect that, but don’t punk out in 25 years and file a lawsuit.

  19. 700levelvet says: Oct 22, 2014 10:13 AM

    Andy Reid really cares when players get banged in the head… Ask Stewart Bradley.. Anyone remember that?

  20. thetruuf says: Oct 22, 2014 10:19 AM

    You are all hypocrites. I don’t care that players knowing damn well the risks of playing football joined the lawsuit against the league for damages. The league pinches pennies when it come to taking care of retired player every chance they get.
    It’s no different than anyone in society. If we knew there was a legit chance we could earn a few thousand bucks by joining a lawsuit against a beer, or energy drink making citing unknown long term damages from consuming them. You know darn well you’d try to get a piece of that pie.
    With all the sacrifices players make to earn those big salaries, I have no problem with them trying to further secure themselves.

  21. crindal3000 says: Oct 22, 2014 10:20 AM

    After every play the game should stop and a team of doctors should swarm the field and examine all the players involved in the tackle for medical issues.

  22. thetruuf says: Oct 22, 2014 10:20 AM

    If he can and is willing to play, let him play.

  23. pacstud says: Oct 22, 2014 10:26 AM

    lmao, so grown adults can go get shot with bullets (their choice), and that’s just the way it is…

    Grown adults get concussed…TRAVESTY!

    At least the concussed adults make millions, soldiers on the other hand?

  24. linji45thgen says: Oct 22, 2014 10:27 AM

    It’s not worrisome; it’s called ‘informed consent’. What happens now if Jamaal Charles sues the NFL down the line? Nothing-he loses because he continued to play with informed consent.

    It’s a calculated risk that we all make, to varying degrees, every day. Is it worth the hour and a half commute to work in Manhattan? Am I being paid enough to deal with a bad boss? Should I find a better job? I had a horrible boss at one point, and almost quit because of it. I’m sure other people have their own risk analysis.

    For Jamaal Charles and many other players, the choice is actually simple. Risk injury and get paid millions of dollars that you could never make otherwise. Or sit and lose your job, let your team down, let your team lose. Play or get paid less on your next contract. You weigh the risk, and make an informed decision. As a journalist, I’m sure you had decisions to make in your career. Perhaps you had to uproot your family and move somewhere. Perhaps you have a long commute that takes you away from your family. Or you have to travel a lot to cover games and therefore spend less time with your children. Everyone has these decisions to make.

    As for the concussion lawsuit, the NFL screwed up by trying to hide some things, and in doing so they deprived players of informed consent. Like Charles, those players would have played anyway, and the NFL would have been off the hook. Instead, the NFL risks liability for their failure to be open about the risks.

    As for Charles, who am I to judge another man’s decision?

  25. pftwd3 says: Oct 22, 2014 10:28 AM

    As Bon Jovi would say, “It’s My Life!”

  26. ragnarthegreat says: Oct 22, 2014 10:28 AM

    This is really a core issue for injuries. Players don’t want to miss time for them. They don’t want to lose money, or be branded as fragile or unreliable. They don’t want to lose their starting jobs, there are plenty of reasons to hide injuries or play through them. There is a cultural element to this that doesn’t line up with the objective of keeping them safe. As long as the reasons to play outweigh the reasons to come off by this wide a margin, the program won’t work.

  27. pftwd3 says: Oct 22, 2014 10:29 AM

    What the heck. Might as well go all the way seeing as it’s one of the top 10 greatest rock songs of all time.

    It’s now or never
    I ain’t gonna live forever
    I just want to live while I’m alive
    (It’s my life)
    My heart is like an open highway
    Like Frankie said
    I did it my way
    I just wanna live while I’m alive
    It’s my life

  28. honeybadger14 says: Oct 22, 2014 10:34 AM

    Inside our eyeballs is a thick gel, which keeps the eye nice and round and plump. This gel can rub against the retina, stimulating the part of the eye that creates images in our brain. When the brain gets a message from the retina, it interprets it as light. Any stimulation of the retina will be translated into a light show by the brain.

    Heck, the retina can be jostled by the strong force of sneezing.

    ~Coach Reid

  29. eaglesw00t says: Oct 22, 2014 10:34 AM

    The NFL should file a concussion lawsuit against every player who has ever admitted to having a concussion and not informing the league about it in any way.

    If they are to be held liable, so should the players that arent reporting them.

  30. illiniftw says: Oct 22, 2014 10:37 AM

    Reminds me of an Urlacher quote I read where he said something like he’d tell the trainers his knee/ankle hurt so they’d focus on that until he could shake the cobwebs. Then he’d go back in

  31. eaglesw00t says: Oct 22, 2014 10:38 AM

    Sadly though, I understand Charles.

    The NFL has had to do so much because of concussions, its taking stars out of the game.

    Lesean Mccoy missed 2 entire series of plays because the medical staff wanted him to leave the field to take the concussion test. And the entire time, the players, and he himself, were stating he showed no signs or symptoms of a concussion. It was merely because he had a helmet to helmet hit.

    So, that choice was taken out of McCoys hands. Im surprised the medical staff didnt automatically grab Charles like they did McCoy.

  32. eaglesw00t says: Oct 22, 2014 10:43 AM

    You are all hypocrites. I don’t care that players knowing damn well the risks of playing football joined the lawsuit against the league for damages. The league pinches pennies when it come to taking care of retired player every chance they get.
    It’s no different than anyone in society. If we knew there was a legit chance we could earn a few thousand bucks by joining a lawsuit against a beer, or energy drink making citing unknown long term damages from consuming them. You know darn well you’d try to get a piece of that pie.
    With all the sacrifices players make to earn those big salaries, I have no problem with them trying to further secure themselves.


    Im sorry, where did the league promise to start paying salaries to former employees?

    They pay them a pension. On top of their already inflated salaries. What more do you want them to do?

  33. realnflmaster says: Oct 22, 2014 10:44 AM

    Good, he’s a real man. Not one of those sissies that make up half the league.

  34. kcflake says: Oct 22, 2014 10:45 AM

    Jamall Charles is THE MAN! He is a Throwback Stud player. AP and Lesean McCoy wish they could be like Jamall. Go Chiefs!

  35. kcflake says: Oct 22, 2014 10:47 AM

    Jamall makes me Proud to be a Chiefs Fan!

  36. harshedmellow says: Oct 22, 2014 10:52 AM

    I tried to drive a couple days after suffering a severe concussion. It was terrifying and I had to pull over; ended up in a home improvement store pushing an empty cart around for half an hour. I bet the security camera people were like, whoa, look at the crazy dude on aisle 7!

    I also wanted to ski a few months afterwards, but the neurologist read me the riot act with my wife present and that was the end of THAT.

    I didn’t ski the next season- now in the 12-16 MONTHS range after the injury- because by then, my judgement and understanding of just HOW impaired I still was, was functioning.

    My point is that a concussed individual is in no position to decide on whether to risk further injury. Their “decider” is busted, with apologies to GWB. They have no perspective on where they are at. It wasn’t until my reflexes, balance, coordination, and ability to process input finally returned to more or less normal, at around the 18-20 month mark, that I realized just how screwed up I’d been. The nature of being human and hurt, for most people, is to tell yourself you are ok.

    Couple all that with the VERY REAL fact that a concussed brain is very prone to re-injury (much easier the next time) for many months afterwards and you see the problem here.

    A significant brain injury is a horrible, life-altering experience. I know not all concussions are severe like mine was, and I understand that these are adults making BANK for a very short time. I get that. My point here is that it can’t be left to the player to decide.

  37. garyridgway says: Oct 22, 2014 10:57 AM

    Well nobody ever said Jamaal was a smart man. Watched his story on E60 and he does have a learning disability. Someone should probly step up and start making life choices for him if they actually care about him.

  38. collinge71 says: Oct 22, 2014 11:02 AM

    You are all hypocrites. I don’t care that players knowing damn well the risks of playing football joined the lawsuit against the league for damages. The league pinches pennies when it come to taking care of retired player every chance they get.
    It’s no different than anyone in society. If we knew there was a legit chance we could earn a few thousand bucks by joining a lawsuit against a beer, or energy drink making citing unknown long term damages from consuming them. You know darn well you’d try to get a piece of that pie.
    With all the sacrifices players make to earn those big salaries, I have no problem with them trying to further secure themselves.


    All the sacrifices they make to earn big salaries?? If they make such big salaries and take known risks, they should be able to take care of themselves. They are doing something that puts their body and future at risk, but makes millions to do it. Now I agree that past players probably deserve some money because the NFL withheld information about the dangers of concussions, but today all the players know the risks, all the players trying to keep themselves healthy by not expanding to an 18 game season and getting rid of Thursday night games. But when a player willingly plays after suffering a big hit and doesn’t feel right. Whether he has a concussion or not, deserves nothing. These are grown men, they have the ability to make decisions on their own and live with the results.

  39. pillowporkers says: Oct 22, 2014 11:09 AM

    If you don’t want a concussion, sit on your coach and eat potato chips.

  40. Andre's Johnson says: Oct 22, 2014 11:17 AM

    In fifteen years he won’t be able to brush his teeth or tie his shoes. If he understands and accepts that, then whatever.

  41. granadafan says: Oct 22, 2014 11:22 AM

    There needs to be some middle ground here.

    1. In Goodell’s NFL, lawyers run the league and make the rules thanks to the billion dollar concussion lawsuit. The lawyers ALWAYS overreact and the penny pinching owners allowed this to happen. As a result, the concussion protocols may seem a bit draconian and overreacting.

    2. Old school coaches like Marvin Lewis don’t have the education or intelligence to understand concussions and the long term effects. Old schoolers don’t understand why players can’t play if they can stand on their legs and punish them.

    3. Contracts are not guaranteed. Many players rightfully think that they’ll be punished wtih less playing time or get cut if they don’t play. Other than QB, football is not a very cerebral sport and players can get away with just reacting. Me see ball. Me hit player with ball.

  42. azjam says: Oct 22, 2014 11:37 AM

    Charles should now go under concussion protocol before he can play again this Sunday.

  43. mancave001 says: Oct 22, 2014 11:39 AM

    I just don’t know how this can be stopped. Concussion symptoms are often not ready visible to others without at least a cursory examination by a qualified medical staff member/doctor. Charles may have appeared fine from a coaching point of view, and even to the medical/training staff from a distance.

    I suppose there are two things that can help the problem:

    First, continue to promote awareness of the issue with the players. It may take really scaring the living crap out of them to get the message through that playing with a concussion might end up disabling or even killing you. Hopefully, increased awareness will lead to more self-reporting.

    Secondly (and I realize many won’t like this), the NFL may just have to have someone watching all games looking for hits that might end up concussing a player, so that player can be evaluated as soon as possible. Obviously, this would impact the game and not be 100% reliable, but given what we know about concussions, it may be necessary at some point.

  44. joetoronto says: Oct 22, 2014 11:41 AM

    “Ya, i saw lights and I was trying to catch them, but I couldn’t. I wasn’t concussed though.”

    He’s clearly not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

  45. evrybdyhas1 says: Oct 22, 2014 11:41 AM

    The organ you use to think is concussed therefore all thinking afterward is called into question. Including his ridiculous admission. Maybe the NFL should let theme do whatever they want as long as they waive their right to sue the league.

  46. boltzrulz says: Oct 22, 2014 12:02 PM

    Jamaal Charles concussion protocol

    Charles: “I, Jamaal Charles, being of sound. . . . . .ooh, look at the pretty lights. . . . . being of . . . .wait, what? . . . . . oh, sound mind. . . . .(reaches out and grabs in the air). . . . .and body . . . . (looks in his hands for what he just caught) . . . . do hereby swear . . . . (looks around and says there’s a phone ringing and would someone please answer it) . . . . . that I was not hurt. . . . . wait, what was next?. . . . . .

  47. says: Oct 22, 2014 12:03 PM

    Why do we continue this effort to tell adults how to handle themselves? Educate the heck out of them so they are fully aware of the dangers and let THEM make the decision to play or to sit.

  48. richc111 says: Oct 22, 2014 12:05 PM

    these guys are grown men they can make their own decision. I say that it should be just like a DWI. there are different grades. If you can’t walk and don’t know where you are that is different then seeing a few stars. Let them sign a waiver like grown men can and only have them pulled form games if the severity is over a certain level. I played hockey my whole life, if they consider a concussion anytime you seen stars, I bet I have had 30 concussions. They are men let them decide except for the most serious of circumstances.

  49. denverscott says: Oct 22, 2014 12:12 PM

    A season is 16 games. For a seasons pay that a NFL starter gets I would stand up, chin jutting forward, and let Iron Mike Tyson slump my 140# mass to the floor. Then I’d get up and do it 15 more times. I’d spend the rest of my days sipping margaritas (and maybe meals) through a staw on the Caribbean and calling everyone, including the beautiful nursemaids, grandpa. And I would be known as “The Boss”. Yeah.

  50. boltzrulz says: Oct 22, 2014 12:13 PM

    Because if you have a concussion then maybe, just maybe, you might not be the best person to determine what is best for you . . . .

    Now your head coach, who as had absolutely zero medical training, he absolutely knows what’s best for you.

  51. eaglesnoles05 says: Oct 22, 2014 12:22 PM

    And while he didn’t say, “And I would never sue the nfl for a choice I made knowing what I was doing while making that choice, cuz that would be so friggin’ weak,” he certainly could have and it would’ve been a breath of fresh air.

  52. timmmah10 says: Oct 22, 2014 1:21 PM

    Not sure why he shouldn’t be at least fined for talking about this or avoiding protocol…

    NFL isn’t protecting itself if they let this slide. Players going forward will just keep their traps shut (as they probably currently do) to avoid going through the medical eval during games. This is just skirting the process in place to protect the shield legally… and should be handled as such.

    Now, do I think Jamaal is a man for staying in the game? Ask his family what they think about him risking his health… don’t think about this as a fan would.

  53. tindeaux says: Oct 22, 2014 1:55 PM

    dude, i understand that charles just wanted to help the team (as the article mentioned). but at the end of his career, he’s still going to have to live his life and be accountable for those he loves and cares for… has he thought that far? #smh…

  54. pftmaniac says: Oct 22, 2014 2:11 PM

    The concussion detection situation is ripe for an electronic sensor that measures impact forces inside the helmet.

    If a player experiences an impact above a set threshold (maybe 50% of normal concussion impact force) then they have to go through the concussion protocol.

    Relying on self-reporting is not an acceptable situation in 2014 when we have off-the-shelf sensors capable of detecting impact forces.

  55. Getoffmylawn! says: Oct 22, 2014 2:21 PM

    For those saying that they are grown men and can make these decisions on their own as to if they can play or not, that is part of the problem. The player, if concussed, can’t make that decision properly. They can if they are not concussed and fine but only in that circumstance. Since nobody is in the head of the player, a professional who understands the process of determining whether a concussion has occurred or not needs to be the one making the decision. The police don’t take your word for it if you appear intoxicated, that you are not drunk and ok to drive. They test you to determine if you can drive or not.
    Can’t they test these players after the series is over while the defense is on the field before the next series? I do not know how long the protocol takes to determine if a player is good to go or not.

  56. bigdawg24 says: Oct 22, 2014 2:53 PM

    Why wasn’t there a penalty on Flowers for an illegal blow to the head?

  57. ramrene says: Oct 22, 2014 3:15 PM

    Charles is on my fantasy team.

    I can tell you he was fine.

  58. ashersea says: Oct 22, 2014 3:49 PM

    He should be fined by the Players Union if they are serious about protecting their members.

  59. titimium says: Oct 22, 2014 3:58 PM

    Most people will think this is too drastic but it may be time to start fining players for this type of behavior. If a player refuses concussion protocol or treatments for other injuries take them out of the game immediately. If he’s being too dumb to protect himself, the team or league has to do it for him.

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