This year, the NFL for the first time gave ATC spotters the power to stop play in order to remove from the field players potentially suffering from concussions. It’s a great idea in theory; in practice, it requires the spotter to be willing to slam on the brakes at a key moment in the action.
Late in Sunday’s game between the Rams and Ravens, the back of St. Louis quarterback Case Keenum’s head slammed against the ground during a late drive in a tie game. Keen immediately was in clear distress, struggling to get up.
But the game continued with Keenum at quarterback, without the Rams or the officials or the ATC spotter doing anything to get him off the field.
It’s possible that ATC spotter wasn’t paying attention. It’s more possible that the ATC spotter was reluctant to yank Keenum off the field during crunch time.
Regardless, the ATC spotter failed to protect a player who needed to be protected from himself. Keenum was never going to tap out voluntarily. In moments like that, the ATC spotter is there for one purpose: To tap out the player involuntarily.