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Tyrod Taylor concussion protocol decision was made by Ed Hochuli, not the ATC spotter

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15:   Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills is pressured during a play by  Muhammad Wilkerson #96 of the New York Jets  during the second half at New Era Field on September 15, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

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.

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54 Responses to “Tyrod Taylor concussion protocol decision was made by Ed Hochuli, not the ATC spotter”
  1. dumbpollack says: Sep 16, 2016 6:42 AM

    And the problem is?

  2. joetoronto says: Sep 16, 2016 6:44 AM

    There wouldn’t be any difference in Taylor’s play if he had a concussion or not.

    He stinks.

  3. gwhite13 says: Sep 16, 2016 7:02 AM

    Only a matter of time before the outcome of a game changes based on a 4th qtr. protocol call.

  4. sminco123 says: Sep 16, 2016 7:34 AM

    He got hit hard. It looked like when he went down he was momentarily out. Check the replay. Good call.

  5. sonvar says: Sep 16, 2016 7:40 AM

    I don’t feel this should be a refs call to make as there are enough judgement calls they have to make in a game. If the spotter doesn’t request the player be taken off the field then let play continue as not every hit to the helmet means a concussion.

  6. xxsweepthelegxx says: Sep 16, 2016 7:40 AM

    Just an observation, but how come they don’t do this ‘quick check’ on the field, without running any more plays, etc? It’s no different than a typical injury timeout where a player is laying down on the field and all play stops for him to be examined right?

    As the article points out, it’s going to be an issue when a player, especially a QB gets pulled out of a game when driving in the 4th quarter of a big game, needing a score.

  7. knockknockwhosthereowen says: Sep 16, 2016 7:59 AM

    After the hit, Tyrod was knocked out cold for a second. Ed Hochuli was 100% right to send him off the field to be evaluated.

  8. rodgerstonelson says: Sep 16, 2016 8:05 AM

    Go ahead and put flags on them.

  9. 345snarkavenue says: Sep 16, 2016 8:05 AM

    as someone mentioned here yesterday, there needs to be an officials’ time-out available for use. there should be no reason that immediately continuing the game is more important than checking the players’ health. if it only took 2 plays to get Taylor back in the game after the initial check, there is no reason they couldn’t have just stopped the game for that length of time. If the player passes the initial check, he can go back in the game immediately.

    There may be some other facets to this, such as should it apply to every player or just to QBs. I tend to think pulling the trigger on applying the protocol is trickiest on QBs….so maybe it should only apply to them.

    That will get everyone involved to pull the protocol trigger a little faster. I can think of only two ways this could effect the game:

    1. momentum
    2. abuse of the use of the protocol when a team is short on time and timeouts. therefore there should be a major punishment for abuse of use of the protocol, because without it, sooner or later someone will abuse it.

    If a player were to break his leg with a compound fracture, they don’t drag the guy off the field and resume play. They stop the game until

  10. 345snarkavenue says: Sep 16, 2016 8:06 AM

    ^^^^
    They stop the game until they get the guy off the field. Why not with a suspected brain injury?

  11. r8dernation says: Sep 16, 2016 8:15 AM

    It looked like Crankshaft, I mean, Tyrod was out for a couple of seconds. But I see this as a new way for the NFL to fix games.

  12. dalfanforever says: Sep 16, 2016 8:16 AM

    It was a good call. The Head Ref was actually watching observing him. And maybe it was being overcautious, but it obviously concerned him enough to send him to the sidelines for a closer look.

    But like the story says, lets see what they do deep in the 4th Quarter and a team is down with a chance to win and a QB gets knocked in the head. That might convince a few more people that they could be taking this somewhat seriously.

  13. liberalmel says: Sep 16, 2016 8:18 AM

    He was knocked out cold. Watch the replay. He should have stayed on the sidelines.

  14. davegrodesky says: Sep 16, 2016 8:28 AM

    While I applaud the decision to pull a quarterback for two plays in the interest of safety, I’m skeptical of how one is able to diagnose a concussion in that timeframe. I’m no doctor.

  15. pft264 says: Sep 16, 2016 8:33 AM

    Taylor laid motionless for a second or 2 after that hit. I immediately thought he took a shot to the head. I wasn’t surprised by what Hochuli did, it seemed completely reasonable.

  16. therealraider says: Sep 16, 2016 8:33 AM

    Tyrol Taylor was clearly unconscious for a few seconds.

  17. petezjunior says: Sep 16, 2016 8:39 AM

    Big Ed did the right thing.

  18. livenbreathefootball says: Sep 16, 2016 8:51 AM

    Rex sounds like he didn’t believe it should have happened. What’s a little shot to the head.

    Make fun of Hochuli (and we all do) but as a lawyer, he gets liability and procedure better than the coaches do.

  19. lscottman3 says: Sep 16, 2016 9:00 AM

    good job in spotting a possible injury, now if Hochuli could also spot the holding that the Jets were not called for on multiple occasions during last nights game on plays that kept the Jets drives going.

  20. renocarolina says: Sep 16, 2016 9:03 AM

    As much grief as ref’s get they make some amazing calls. This was one of them. Ref’s are trained to make split second calls, they should be the one’s initiating the decision because they are closest to the players. Not sure if spotters should be doing anything other than relaying messages.

  21. bkostela says: Sep 16, 2016 9:18 AM

    1) Where’s the outrage that a penalty wasn’t called on the play?

    2) Taylor was clearly motionless for a brief second after the play concluded. That in itself warrants an evaluation.

  22. dietrich43 says: Sep 16, 2016 9:26 AM

    So what you’re saying, is that just like last Thursday, the ATC spotter doesn’t seem to be doing his job?

  23. jag1959 says: Sep 16, 2016 9:27 AM

    Fixing this isn’t rocket science. There should be an officials timeout for these situations, the player could be checked and after several DFS commercials immediately return if he is okay. Then there would be no pressure or question about it influencing the game.

  24. charger383 says: Sep 16, 2016 9:27 AM

    Good call by one of the better refs

  25. newjerseygiants says: Sep 16, 2016 9:28 AM

    My wife invoked the beer protocol decision and locked the fridge last night after my 15th. can.

  26. schmitty2 says: Sep 16, 2016 9:38 AM

    Hochuli decided Taylor was old enough to get the concussion protocol.

  27. gonzoforbills says: Sep 16, 2016 9:46 AM

    He saw he was woozy but missed the flagrant helmet-to-helmet, right?

    LMAO at the officiating in this league

  28. internetcommenter7 says: Sep 16, 2016 9:50 AM

    Officials, spotters, God — none of these people should have the prerogative to remove a player from the game. The subjective impression of an onlooker regarding whether something was “a pretty good hit” or whether a player looked “a little woozy” should not affect the outcome of a game. If this happened to my team, I would be livid.

  29. 4horsemenoftheapocalypse says: Sep 16, 2016 10:18 AM

    After having my two kids both get concussions, I am glad he made the call to remove him. I also think that 2 plays-worth of evaluation time is a little short to determine the severity of a concussion.

  30. taeh324 says: Sep 16, 2016 10:18 AM

    sonvar says:
    Sep 16, 2016 7:40 AM
    I don’t feel this should be a refs call to make as there are enough judgement calls they have to make in a game. If the spotter doesn’t request the player be taken off the field then let play continue as not every hit to the helmet means a concussion.

    _______________

    The official has the best view on the field SOMETIMES just like the spotters can’t see everything. Taylor clearly was unconscious for a few seconds after the hit, so Ed did the right thing by taking him off of the field.

  31. chicagobtech says: Sep 16, 2016 10:35 AM

    “So what you’re saying, is that just like last Thursday, the ATC spotter doesn’t seem to be doing his job?”

    Either this, or Hochuli responded faster than the spotter.

  32. wolfman55h says: Sep 16, 2016 10:38 AM

    I heard during halftime ”Guns’ Ed went into stands and took popcorn away from a fat guy. Ed felt he’d eaten enough.

  33. joetoronto says: Sep 16, 2016 10:40 AM

    We could get to see EJ Manuel next game, woo hoo!

  34. wolfman55h says: Sep 16, 2016 10:42 AM

    Any truth to rumor new concussion spotter was Mike Carey??

  35. immafubared says: Sep 16, 2016 10:47 AM

    They went from nothing Cam to oh gee he may have a boo boo he is out.

  36. patriots123456 says: Sep 16, 2016 10:59 AM

    Check him out on the field (game stopped) and throw ANOTHER commercial on.

    That’s what its all about anyway, the money.

  37. 345snarkavenue says: Sep 16, 2016 11:05 AM

    newjerseygiants says:
    Sep 16, 2016 9:28 AM
    My wife invoked the beer protocol decision and locked the fridge last night after my 15th. can.

    —–

    this subjective interference can often be overcome by purchasing a beer with an ABV in the 8%+ range.

    less trips to the bathroom too.

  38. pourman says: Sep 16, 2016 11:06 AM

    Good on Hochuli or anyone else that suspects a head injury and takes action, ref, spotter, whoever.

    To all you keyboard gladiators, I hope you never know anyone with brain injury.

  39. 345snarkavenue says: Sep 16, 2016 11:09 AM

    jag1959 says:
    Sep 16, 2016 9:27 AM
    Fixing this isn’t rocket science. There should be an officials timeout for these situations, the player could be checked and after several DFS commercials immediately return if he is okay. Then there would be no pressure or question about it influencing the game.

    ———

    it really makes one wonder what the league’s motivation is, since $$ drives most of their decision making.

    maybe they’re afraid it could effect their predetermined outcomes of certain games? actual vs betting spread?

  40. bigotshamer says: Sep 16, 2016 11:28 AM

    If you are struck hard enough to lose consciousness, then you by definition have injured your brain.

  41. chris6523 says: Sep 16, 2016 11:30 AM

    I wish people could acknowledge that this is an extremely complicated issue and respect the fact that these decisions aren’t easy to make. It’s easy to sit on your high horse and criticize everything the league does.

  42. bullettoothtony says: Sep 16, 2016 11:33 AM

    “I don’t feel this should be a refs call to make as there are enough judgement calls they have to make in a game. If the spotter doesn’t request the player be taken off the field then let play continue as not every hit to the helmet means a concussion.”

    PRECISELY!!!

    But this is what you get with an over involved, self important, too wordy ref like Hochuli….who the hell is he to make a medical judgment??? That should be up to the doctors/neurological specialist/spotter and the ref should not have any say in it. I’d have no issue with a ref even stopping play for a few minutes (like a ref does in boxing) to have a player checked out by the medical team but to let them have the power to remove a player from the game is totally ludicrous and an overreach of their power (something Hochuli continually tries to exert).

  43. ebdug says: Sep 16, 2016 11:35 AM

    I think the ratings drop is directly tied to the delays and penalties that occur every time an NFL player has a bo-bo.

  44. eddiea25 says: Sep 16, 2016 11:36 AM

    Guns always loved the “pub”.

  45. guiness17 says: Sep 16, 2016 11:44 AM

    I know he got downvoted, but I agree with the poster who said it shouldn’t be the ref making this call. Dude has 10,000 judgement calls to make in a game, don’t add this to his plate. The spotters are there, tell them to grow a pair and stop play when they suspect something.

  46. thebirdofprey says: Sep 16, 2016 12:31 PM

    What I don’t get is how can I see a guy looks knocked out on my regular Working Joe TV and these professional spotters can’t see a guy laying on another player with no movement for 2 or 3 seconds?

    Cam Newton had the same thing happen. Ed Hochuli who is a little long winded at times 100 % made the right call.

  47. MichaelEdits says: Sep 16, 2016 12:38 PM

    Yet another illustration of how little faith we have in the NFL. One way to begin rebuilding that faith is so painfully obvious that I shouldn’t need to type it. But I will anyway. Replace Goodell.

  48. dejadoh says: Sep 16, 2016 1:01 PM

    Another useless acronym which further insulates the NFL from trouble. First rule of story telling is to define acronyms. Why isn’t this the CAT spotter for Certified Athletic Trainer? Or is it really referring to athletic trainer credential from NATA? Using ATC® seems purposely, and legally confusing.

  49. sdelmonte says: Sep 16, 2016 1:15 PM

    On the one hand, there is a protocol and the refs are not part of it. And are not trained in what to spot.

    OTOH, better to err on the side of caution since after what happens last week was absurd.

    As ever, the league needs to make a policy and stick with it. And as ever, no one expects that to happen. Or have they been zealously testing PSI readings?

  50. skawh says: Sep 16, 2016 2:38 PM

    Where was HOC in the Denver-Carolina game. That was an NFL sponsored massacre. Anyone who didn’t see that as a travesty was either a homer or blind. Too little too late. Every Ref should call the game the same way, as the rules are in place for a reason.

  51. billswillnevermove says: Sep 16, 2016 3:10 PM

    I’m still thinking that smell Joe smells, the stink is coming from the sewer in downtown Toronto.

  52. onlynyteam22 says: Sep 17, 2016 1:37 AM

    the real question is why there a flag thrown?

  53. onlynyteam22 says: Sep 17, 2016 1:37 AM

    wasn’t **

  54. hishighness says: Sep 20, 2016 11:59 AM

    I’m a Patrots fan, and during Super Bowl XLIX Julian Edelman got drilled in a way that looked an awful lot like he may have had a concussion. Even though I know now that he went on to catch the Title winning Touchdown I’d still support him being taken out to be evaluated. You can’ claim you love your team and then just expect the players to be treated like nameless, faceless pawns. These guys are people, just like you and me. Former Patriot Junior Seau killed himself because of this stuff, if we can save these guys from themselves I say do it, and if it costs my beloved Patriots a game or even a title I’ll live with it.

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