NFL should investigate Eagles, Lions for letting Vick, Best return to game


Before the 2011 season started, the NFL circulated a memo to all teams mandating the removal from games of players who not only have actually been diagnosed with concussions, but also are merely suspected of being concussed.

Under the heading “WHEN IN DOUBT, LEAVE THEM OUT” (a possibly unintended homage to a classic Ted Nugent tune), the memo provides as follows:  “If you have any suspicion about a player being concussed, remove him from the game.  Always err on the side of caution. . . .  Any player suspected of having a concussion is a ‘NO GO’ and does not return to play in the same game or practice, and cannot return to play at all until he is cleared by both his team physician and an independent neurologist.”

This language makes even more troubling the decision of the Eagles to put quarterback Mike Vick back into Sunday’s win over the Redskins, after he absorbed a helmet-to-helmet hit and his helmet hit the ground.  Vick was motionless on the ground for several seconds; video of the moment suggests that his body twitched at least once while he was down.

But Vick came back after Vince Young threw an interception on his only pass.  According to FOX, the team initially said that Vick came out because he had dirt on his face . . . even though he wears a visor.  Team spokesman Derek Boyko later told PFT that Vick also had the wind knocked out of him.  (After the game, Vick said he had dirt in his eye, again despite the visor.)

That’s fine, but the Eagles should have had  some suspicion (remember, the memo says “any suspicion”) that Vick suffered a concussion, and Vick should have been removed from the game.

Of course, that would have required the Eagles to go with Young or Mike Kafka, making it more likely that the Eagles would have fallen to 1-5, that the Eagles would have missed the playoffs, and that Andy Reid’s time in Philly would have ended.

The Eagles aren’t the only team who should be scrutinized.  Lions running back Jahvid Best, who has a history of concussions, hit his head on the ground early and then stayed on the ground early in the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the 49ers.  Best re-entered the game — even though the team said after the game that Best has another concussion.

We’ve asked the league whether it’s looking into either situation.  In light of the plain language of the Ted Nugent memo, the league should be.  If it isn’t, then these memos and procedures and rules are nothing more than lip service to Congress or anyone else who could accuse the NFL of not doing enough to protect players from the short-term and long-term consequences of head injuries.

54 responses to “NFL should investigate Eagles, Lions for letting Vick, Best return to game

  1. first of all it’s “When in doubt, WHIP it out”

    secondly – this memo (it’s a mission statement) is knowingly unenforceable and nothing more than a huge C Y A for the league. I’m betting you could go through the tapes for Sunday and find many more of these types of situations.

  2. If you are going to leave out every player who has hit their head on the ground, you might as well cancel the season. Every player ends up hitting their head on the ground during the course of a game. Signs of a concussion are not immediate. Ask any neurologist worth their salt, and they’ll tell you that. Sometimes a concussion takes hours to show the signs.

  3. Wait, the Eagles don’t care about the long term health of their players? You mean they’re more interested in winning now? Shocker!

  4. The doctor said Vick was fine and had not signs of a concussion. The Eagles offense may have stalled in the second half, but it wasn’t because of Vick. He wasn’t playing like a confused, concussed guys. Why are you pushing this issue?

  5. You missed the point of that whole sequence. If London Fletcher doesn’t convince Burkholder and the Eagles trainers, Vick is never taken out. Don’t you think that’s more of a story? How low that is?

    Did the Eagles even give him a concussion test? Because I haven’t seen one account saying they did, which is why no one else is talking about this except you. How do you know he was motionless and not just Aaron Ross-ing (faking) it?

    Also, dirt can get in Vick’s eye. His whole face isn’t covered by the visor. It’s not impossible for it to happen, so don’t be condescending about it.

  6. The Vick thing is stupid, I have played with visor on and when you get pounded face first in the ground dirt can get under it. He came back in and showed no signs of a concussion.

  7. Nice to read that some people understand football is just a game. Neither Vick or best should have been allowed back in the game. Rodger will hopefully do something about the poor decisions the lions and eagles made.

  8. So anytime anyone gets hit in the head with anything they must be taken out? It’s just dumb. With all the restrictions they put on the players if they do say they have a concussion I can understand why they wouldn’t want do any tests during the game.

  9. Sounds like a clear case loss of 1st round draft picks to me. Always follow Rogies memos, unless your the Jets.

  10. Even though the league has all of these new rules about player safety there is still one thing that will always win out; money.

    If Philly had gone 1-5 their season would effectively have been over. End of season means less ticket sales, less concessions sold, less merchandise sold, no additional playoff revenue.

    Andy Reid kept Vick in for one reason; to save his butt and keep the gravy train roliing in Philly.

  11. Wearing a visor does not preclude anything from dirt getting onto his face or into his eyes. This is a classic red herring. I wear a pair of safety glasses when doing yard work and bits of debris still find their way into my eyes. Unless you are wearing ski goggles that closes off all gaps around the eyes, dirt will still find its way in.

  12. otis52gsh says:
    Oct 19, 2011 9:36 AM
    Nice to read that some people understand football is just a game. Neither Vick or best should have been allowed back in the game. Rodger will hopefully do something about the poor decisions the lions and eagles made.

    Wrong. It’s a multi-billion-dollar business, not “just a game.” But leave it to PFT to get out the pitchforks and torches over another non-story.

  13. Well when the stories are slow pull out the self made controversy card.
    Vick wasnt even hit in the head, he was hit in the shoulder. Let it go…let it go.

  14. I think the NFL needs to investigate how you continue to spread propoganda and lies, and manipulate words. Everyone in their right mind knows you don’t give a hoot about Vick so don’t act like you do now. I saw his press conference after the game and he looked and sounded fine to me so go find another story and tell your wife this one did not work you peta members need to find something else to do with your life.

  15. The league has established a precedent that the penalty for ignoring memos regarding proper videocamera placement is $750k in fines and loss of a first-round pick. Since this memo has to do with player safety, anything less than the camera placement penalty in this case is an absolute joke.

  16. I think you need to drop the Vick portion of this. There has been no talks or information going out that Vick even needed a concussion test done. Not to mention a visor doesn’t prevent dirt from getting in a player’s face.

    With Best you have a better point as he has been diagnosed with a concussion.

  17. This is asinine. If you want to pursue your conspiracy theories then the burden of proof is on you. How do you (without reasonable doubt) prove that the Eagles and Andy Reid were being deceptive? How do you prove that Mike Vick had a concussion? The Eagles were extremely conservative with Westbrook, Desean Jackson, Kevin Kolb, and Mike Vick in the past. They did not assess Stewart Bradley when they should have because Eagles’ trainers and medical staff were focusing on Kolb. This is absolute crap.

  18. To be fair to the Eagles, they did just name their Defensive Backs coach their new team physician so there’s bound to be a period of adjustment.

  19. Vick was motionless on the ground for several seconds; video of the moment suggests that his body twitched at least once while he was down.

    LOL, so the Eagles’ trainers, from wherever they were on the sidelines at the time, no matter who may have been in their way, no matter what else was going on on the filed at the time, should have seen Vick twitch ever so slightly, and run to the head coach screaming GET HIM OUT? Are you serious, Mike?

  20. peytonwantsaflag says: I’m betting you could go through the tapes for Sunday and find many more of these types of situations.

    You could–Troy Polamalu was taken out of the game with “concussion-like symptoms.” However, unlike Vick, he was not allowed to return to the game even though he wanted to.

    Not saying one team was right and one was wrong, but I’m guessing if Young didn’t throw that interception, Vick would have stayed out of the game.

  21. So I have been wondering what happens if this happens to a marquee name like Rogers or Brady in the Super Bowl, but they still want to play with a mild concussion.

    My bet is that the whole thing goes out the window, and they will play anyway, bringing on a new wave of “they cheated” to win.

  22. 1) Football is a sport filled with violence.
    2) Rules were made/changed to make the sport more exciting, to the detriment of the defense.
    3) Defensive players adjusted, turning themselves into human missles.
    4) Even more new rules were put in to defang the new approach.
    5) Now all that is left his human pinball of a sport where head injuries (instead of just the knee or ankle injuries) are going through the roof.
    6) Even MORE rules are now put in to protect the players and flags are flying and fines are handed out for what used to be mundane plays.
    7) Teams, when the everything is at stake, will put players back in anyway when it counts, so real protection doesn’t even really exist.

    There is your modern NFL. People like WWE, so have no doubt that it will thrive. But I don’t particularly want to watch it. Too much subjectivity between games and too much subjectivity within a game. The game is now a pitched battle of technicalities, and whoever gets punished the least is your champion. Watching millionaires with 3% body fat navigate a bureaucracy, and the decision to actually hit somebody is a three part business decision, isn’t much fun for me.

    I don’t want to see physical damage for its own sake either, just the fact that it is a normal result of how the game used to be played. And it was far more objective as teams went up against each other and settled it that way. There’s always been a human element, but it’s now gotten so distorted guys are actually not making plays because they are worried about losing $15K. You futz around with something that wasn’t broken and you break it. The NFL has deviated so far from what it used to be to juice it up and attract new fans, and now it is the nu-NFL, one that I don’t like. I have little hope that it will return to its prior form, and will likely continue further down the road it’s on. For those who have recently joined, you’ll keep on enjoying it and you’re welcome to it. I’m going to start building ships in a bottle here pretty soon.

  23. How about the story PFT posted which suggested the Steelers made up the story about James Harrison’s eye being the reason he missed part of a game? Playing armchair physician is silly and is only meant to stoke controversy.

  24. From my experience in high school football, the best prescription for a concussion is to walk it off, then take a nice long nap after practice.

  25. Who made you a Dr, best didn’t have any symptoms until after the game and he was taken out anyways get your facts straight

  26. this is a dumb article. no news…really, they kept him out before for concussions and a flippin finger that was bruised. If they thought he could go in, HE COULD GO IN. No need for an investigation.

  27. It’s the new loophole and competitive advantage for teams. Whichever sideline has the best doctors for diagnosing a concussion loses (or even detecting a symptom), assuming their honest. If we’re talking safety, these “tough” players need to be protected from themselves and their own egos. It’s easy to sit on the couch and scream this is football, but you’re not the one who’s life might be torn apart before you’re 40 over a silly football game

  28. I’m still trying to figure out where the helmet to helmet hit occurred with Vick… The play I saw, he was hit in the back and driven to the ground…

  29. I think they should let Vick play regardless of whether they think he might have a concussion or not. He’s an adult and can decide if he’s healthy enough to play. Besides, I can’t wait for karma to catch up to him. He’ll be spending the rest of his life in a drooling stupor with state nurses changing his diapers.

  30. Fletcher was asked about this on a radio show and said Vick got up wobbly. Almost any other player in the league I may suspect he was trying to get him out of there, but Fletcher is one of the classiest players to play the game, I highly doubt he was trying to obtain some sort of strategic advantage.

  31. With regards to Best the Lions took him out of the game with 10 minutes left in the 4th. I did not see him get creamed in the game. At what point did Best say, “hey I might have a problem here.”? Did HE even think he had a concussion? I’d like to hear some facts of your/that argument before you just group those two different situations together to strengthen your supposed position. Comes off as grandstanding. Schwartz is big on making sure those people are taken care of. Sheffler, Durant, Best all out for us due to concussion & are not allowed to return until cleared by neutral doctors & neutral services. Repeatedly Schwartz has said this is something you don’t mess around with, you fail to mention any of that.

  32. First, James Harrison, now Vick?

    I honestly wonder, if Tom Brady were to get hit like Vick did, if you would be saying the same thing?

    Sorry, I forgot the other NFL Memo, that says no one is permitted to hit Tom Brady.

  33. Haters and/or whiners, complaining the Eagles cheated, by allowing Vick back in the game, you are pathetic. He had the wind knocked out of him and got dirt in his eyes, as he said after the game. L Fletcher maybe thought he had really hurt him, and/or was trying to get him out of the game. Either way, nice try haters, and if that was a blow to the head, as many have stated, then why was a flag not thrown? Yes, the refs have been horrible, but so has the lack of tackling technique, that was supposed to improve with all the new anti-missle rules.

  34. If a guy says he is good to play, we should take him at his word…..if you can’t trust the judgment of someone who just had their brain scrambled, who can you trust?

  35. Why do they play hockey then? If the players are concerned abou their health after playing days then don’t play. People don’t care anymore.

  36. Again, getting your bell rung does not necessarily mean a concussion. If it did boxing would have been banned a long time ago. So would cupboards and doors and every other thing a person might hit their heads on. Yours is a lawyer’s view and we all hate lawyers (until we need one).

  37. Someone’s just hurt because the NFL didn’t fine Schwartz. Now he just had to look for another reason to whine about the Lions…even if it means making up an issue.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.