ATC spotter failed to call medical timeout to remove Case Keenum


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.

48 responses to “ATC spotter failed to call medical timeout to remove Case Keenum

  1. Cmon, it’s Fisher and Williams. You think they’re gonna voluntarily pull any of their guys? It’s laughable when Fisher uses “I’m on the competition committee” when defending himself or his players.

  2. Foles new right away he needed to get in the game. He ran for his helmet. In situations where it is clear something needs to be done there needs to be a deterrent for not doing the right thing. Fine the coach of the player. Put that money towards the lawsuits the player LS will undoubtedly file for the NFL “not warning them of the risks”… What a crock!!

  3. With so many moving parts, so much ambiguity and the proliferation in judgement rules, isn’t it time to make NFL officiating a full-time advocation and not a part time profession for these guys? The NFL pretends to care about player safety – and many of the rules that have been put into place in the past few years are directly attributable to this “concern” – so why in the world are the officials still part-time contractors who are obviously overwhelmed by the volume of decisions they are responsible for adjudicating? The issue of missed calls and/or mis-interpreted rulings has gone from the exception to the norm and is impacting games on a weekly basis.

  4. As a Rams fan I couldn’t believe what I saw. Keenum had to be lifted up by a lineman and was obviously woozy. Not sure that Foles would have been an upgrade.

  5. I was also shocked he wasn’the pulled. Slammed his head, put his hands to his head. Teammate grabbed his hand to pull him up and he wasn’t trying to get up at all.

    Big mistake there

  6. The guy was a rag doll trying to get helped up… how do you miss that? He literally had no control over his arms/hands…

    The spotter should be fired for that one. Even Foles knew something was wrong since he immediately started throwing the ball.

    How much you want to bet Foles doesn’t lose that last fumble because he would have had enough awareness to see that guy coming… mistake by spotter and coaching staff.

  7. Spotters are human too. Maybe he was buying some popcorn and beer when the concussion happened.

  8. Fisher should be removed from the competition committee, it’s a joke that the boss of Gregg Williams, and architect of the Williams style of coaching skates free on anything bountygate… a bad coach and worse person.

  9. Five millions to Ted Wells to study if hitting one’s head on the ground causes concussion. Five more to study if thermal (negative) expansion exists. Five more for if the sun rises every morning.

  10. It shouldn’t have come down to the spotter. The Rams should have put in Foles. Case was clearly out of it. It probably isn’t right, but some quarterbacks have earned enough respect to stay in at a critical time after a hit like that, but he isn’t one of them. We aren’t talking about pulling Brady in crunch time here. Put in Foles, hope for the best, & don’t get somebody seriously injured.

  11. A play or two later he just stood there got sacked and stripped of the ball. It would have been better for the Rams to do the right thing and get him out of there when it happened.

  12. It was terrible all around. It was terrible for Keenum to get hurt. It was worse when the ATC didn’t stop for a check. I mean, delay the freaking game and make sure he is alright. He obviously wasn’t.

    I am sure the NFL will have a great excuse–maybe the ATC was making sure Jeff Fisher wasn’t hurt or something.

    Then, the final mistake–JEFF FISHER DOING NOTHING ABOUT IT. On critical late game drive with seconds left…he didn’t pull Keenum, and he called a PASS??? I mean, if the backup qb nick foles can see the qb is hurt and grabs his helmet, the OC or head coach should notice also.

    I recall a similar situation at Michigan last year when the QB took a big hit and the OC and head coach didn’t realize as he was wandering around completely out of it. Didn’t take him out either, then put him back in later when another player could not find his helmet. It was one of many reasons why Brady Hoke might never get another head coaching job.

    Jeff Fisher? If this team moves to LA, they should let him go coach usc.

  13. I’m kind of torn. As a Pats fan I’m glad Edelman never got pulled and I would have been pissed if that happened in the Superbowl. I would have been angry and questioning the validity of the call. But these guys have to have the stones to go against players and fans if the NFL is going to get serious about concussions. In another month THE movie will be out and boy oh boy…. I am going to be curious how the playoffs are going to be handled with the media even more focused on the NFL then.

  14. Yes — all we need is for ATC Spotters dictating who must come off the field against their own will and their coaching staff’s will.

    Imagine how ticked off a player would be if some prophylactic regulatory type of figure determined in his or her own mind to bench someone.


  15. Another joke of a fake program designed to make it look like the NFL cares one iota about player safety.

    He was literally out on his feet. He couldn’t even stand up. If that ATC spotter has a job tomorrow, it will be an even bigger joke.

    Jeff Fisher, a mediocre coach who is lucky to even have a job in this league, has WAY too much power. There was no way his player was going to be forced out of a game at crunch time.

    What a disgrace this league is. I wish I could stop watching.

  16. Right, and there is no chance that biased ATC Spotters will be planted to achieve desired game results, like Jets trainers sitting in on Patriots games and taking out Gronk, Gostkowski, and Brady.

  17. I’m a certified athletic trainer and I watched the replay of it just a few minutes ago and I just want to say on behalf of my profession that that spotter who missed the call is a complete embarrassment to my profession. The only way the athletic trainer should not be fired is if he/she buzzed down to the field and it was ignored.

  18. For those who don’t know the letters ATC stand for certified athletic trainer. I happen to be one of these and have been one for the last 14 years. I have to tell you there are times when you can’t see everything when you’re covering a football game on a sideline but if your sole job in life is to look for head injuries and not have to worry about anything else I gotta tell you that Guy failed miserably and he also failed my profession miserably.

  19. I saw that live on RedZone as most of you all did. And just moments earlier most of you also saw Ryan Fitzpatrick get blasted helmet to helmet while dashing head first into the endzone of the Jets-Texans game. He was not as “knocked out” as Keenum was, but Fitzpatrick was still woozy…on a helmet to helmet hit that the ATC spotter nor Bowles did anything about (probably because they hate Geno Smith so much). And what do you know? Both QBs cost their teams the games with turnovers late.

    I guess if it’s the fourth quarter and your backup QB is lame, the coaches and refs and ATC guy will do nothing in these instances. I guess a Week 11 game between middling to poor teams is just “too big” to mess with.

    Ridiculous. Fisher and Bowles need to be fined…at least.

  20. And THIS is the organization that at least eight owners, supposedly, including Jones and Kraft, want to represent the NFL in LA? Comically inept.

  21. “For those who don’t know the letters ATC stand for certified athletic trainer.”

    Wouldn’t that be CAT?

  22. Hi ya folks, good ole Rog here.

    Move along folks, nothing to see here.

    Everything worked just as it’s supposed to.

    Our “independent” spotters are trained just like we train or refs, they miss nothing.

    Why, right after this very play, this spotter called me on the phone to tell me I had a hair out of place. He saw my pic on the screen and I tell ya, can’t get anything by him.

  23. The NFL has become such a sad excuse of an organization. Absolutely nothing is managed well. Nothing. I too wish I could stop watching.

  24. Jburns, it’s been that way forever and I promise you it sure as hell wasn’t my idea to call it that. I’ve been doing this like I said for 14 years and in that time there have been many calls to change the name of the profession do something that actually makes more sense. The old guard of athletic trainers resist this and we’re probably stuck with that name.

  25. mackcarrington says:
    Nov 22, 2015 5:03 PM

    Spotters are human too. Maybe he was buying some popcorn and beer when the concussion happened.
    Either that or there is no spotter and the whole spotter program is made up.

  26. One thing is for sure, the ATC spotter in ANY game is a joke, they have NO real power and their job, is basically similar to the cheerleaders…none. Its all about presentation.

    The NFL has learned so much this past decade from the best sports entertainment arena…the WWE.

  27. Apparently the ATC job scope stops at the level of “I Spy “.

    “Yep, I see a concussion. Pass the popcorn?”

  28. Still blows me away that Fisher is on the competition committee supposedly all concerned about player safety. When he’s not having his guys cheapshot the other team Fisher is busy leaving his own concussed guys in the game or signing concussions-in-waiting like Welker.

  29. Spotter or not, his teammates knew, his coach knew & every single person watching this horrible game knew. Big miss & hope he did not do any further damage staying in there. Spotter should be relieved of his/her duties since they missed an easy one here. Get well Case.

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