It was obvious to everyone (except the officials and the ATC spotter) that Rams quarterback Case Keenum should have been removed from play and checked for a concussion after hitting his helmet on the turf late in Sunday’s game at Baltimore. It also was obvious to the league office.
“Promptly after the conclusion of yesterday’s game, we began a review to determine the facts of the injury to St. Louis quarterback Case Keenum and why he was not removed from the game for the necessary evaluation by a team physician or the unaffiliated neuro-trauma consultant as required by our concussion protocols,” the NFL said in a statement issued on Monday. “We are continuing that review today, which includes discussions with the Rams and their medical staff, the ATC spotter, the game officials, our medical advisors and the NFLPA. In the meantime, prior to this week’s games, we will reinforce with all involved the need to ensure that these injuries are properly identified and addressed in a manner consistent with our protocols.”
On Sunday, all responsible parties failed to protect Keenum. The fact that the ATC spotter has the ultimate power to stop the game from a vantage point no one on the field possesses means that the ATC spotter had the ultimate responsibility to act. If the ATC spotter can’t or won’t do the job the way it needs to be done, the NFL needs to relieve that ATC spotter of his or her duties and hire someone else.
And if the NFL has any hesitation about removing a player who appears to be in distress but who actually doesn’t have a concussion for five or 10 minutes of real time during crunch time due to competitive advantage, the NFL needs to admit that to itself, and to everyone else.