It’s obvious that the Seahawks violated the concussion protocol when allowing quarterback Russell Wilson to return to Thursday night’s game without a concussion evaluation. The question is whether the NFL will do anything about it.
Adam Schefter of ESPN report that the Seahawks “are expected to face consequences” for the failure. Even if they do, what will they be?
Previously, every situation involving a player who did not receive a concussion evaluation when he apparently should have did not result in discipline for anyone. Instead, the league would find a reason to excuse the irregularity by finding some obscure loophole in the rules and issuing a “don’t do that again” admonition.
The difference in this case is that, unlike prior cases, the concussion protocol was activated when the referee sent Wilson to the sideline. At that point, the Seahawks had no choice but to give Wilson an evaluation. And they didn’t.
So what will the “consequences” be? As noted on Friday, a revised policy unveiled in 2016 provides that, for a first offense, the team faces a maximum fine of $150,000. Which means it can be less than that.
Elsewhere in the policy appears an explanation that, if the league and the NFL Players Association agree that aggravating circumstances exist, the fine will be at least $50,000. Which implies that there’s a chance the outcome will be that Wilson innocently slipped through the fingers of team doctors and trainers, and that the fine could be what amounts to, for a franchise owned by one of the richest men in the world, the fine for taking a book back a day late to the library. (Google it, kids.)
To summarize, while the Seahawks may indeed face “consequences” for what occurred on Thursday night, the “consequences” for their behavior may be sufficiently minimal to prompt owner Paul Allen to shrug and say, “Consequences, shmonsequences as long as I’m really, really, really rich.”