In the immediate aftermath of Thursday night’s Panthers-Broncos game featuring multiple vicious hits to Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, the NFL issued an “all is well” statement regarding compliance with the concussion protocol following a blow to the head late in the fourth quarter that left Newton in apparent distress. Now that the league has opted to take a closer look at the matter, the NFLPA has declined an opportunity to join forces with the league toward that end.
Instead, the NFL Players Association will conduct its own investigation, under the authority given to the union by the concussion enforcement procedures. These new rules, implemented for 2016, allow the NFL and NFLPA to conduct their own investigations, with an arbitrator resolving any disagreement regarding whether a violation occurred.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFLPA decided to conduct its own investigation due in part to the league’s premature declaration on Friday of compliance, which raised red flags for the union.
“We take time to evaluate all of the factors and carefully decide when to exercise our right to hold Clubs or the League accountable,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told PFT in response to a request for comment. “Only after a comprehensive review of all of the available facts we decided to initiate this Compliance Investigation.”
The NFL’s statement, while technically accurate, creates the impression that the investigation will be a collaboration. It won’t; the league and the union will conduct separate investigations, and there’s a chance that they will reach conflicting conclusions. If they do, an arbitrator will decide whether a violation occurred.