One week after Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was left in the game despite seeming to be under more much distress, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor was sent to the sidelines to be assessed for a possible concussion.
Although Taylor ultimately missed only two plays, he was taken to the sidelines for closer observation. After the game, coach Rex Ryan explained that the decision came not from the ATC spotter but from referee Ed Hochuli.
“Hey, our quarterback took a shot and then it’s like, OK, we get it,” Ryan told reporters. “He comes out and then EJ went in. And, hey, I certainly understand that and I’m all for that.”
Taylor didn’t seem to be showing obvious signs or symptoms of a concussion, which invites speculation that last Thursday’s incident with Newton has resulted in the league making it clear to officials and ATC spotters and everyone else that someone has to initiate the process.
“They told me that he took a good shot and, you know what? I get that,” Ryan said. “I certainly get that. This league should be about protecting the players and Hochuli explained that to me, and I certainly understood.”
Taylor told reporters that Hochuli believed the quarterback was “a little woozy.”
The league would say that there ultimately was no difference between Newton and Taylor because trainers checked Newton on the field, in the same way Taylor was checked on the sideline. Still, the process looks more legitimate when the player is removed from the game and observed, even if a decision can quickly be made that a closer look via a more exhausting protocol isn’t needed.
Besides, it’s one thing for Taylor to be removed in the third quarter. It’s another for Taylor or Newton or any other player to be removed late in the fourth quarter, with the game on the line. Until that happens — and until the NFL collectively and zealously defends the decision to remove a player who ultimately didn’t have a concussion amid cries that the decision determined the outcome of the game — the various people who have the power to remove a key player at a key moment will continue to twiddle their thumbs in the hopes that someone else will be the one to step up and made the decision that may result in widespread public scrutiny and criticism.