The NFL has decided not to fine the Rams for the failure to get quarterback Case Keenum off the field when it was obvious that he was concussed. The NFL Players Association disagrees with that outcome. Strongly.
“Show me someone that says, ‘No, the Rams did exactly the right thing.’ They didn’t,” Winston told USA Today. “Everybody knows they didn’t. So, there has to be discipline then, right? Because when a player doesn’t do something that he’s supposed to do, he gets fined for that when it comes to health and safety.”
Winston makes a good point. When players fail to do something that the league expected them to do, the league doesn’t make excuses for the players or say “next time, you’ll be fined.” The league imposes discipline, swiftly and without hesitation.
“There was no grace period for players,” Winston said, referring to the renewed emphasis on helmet-to-helmet hits on defenseless players from 2010. “It was, ‘Immediately change, or you’re going to be fined.’ All of a sudden, stuff that was legal isn’t legal. And we understand why. There wasn’t a fight against it. But all of a sudden that became not only illegal, but fined immediately. While these protocols have now been around for years, [teams are] still not being fined.”
ESPN’s Mark Schlereth, a former player, was even more critical of the league and the Rams in a Wednesday interview with CBS Sports Radio 920 in St. Louis.
“I thought it was a systemic failure throughout the whole organization when it comes to the handling of Case Keenum,” Schlereth said. “You essentially put a player’s life in danger. The thing that I was really upset about and really angry about is that the NFL didn’t do anything about it. I went through all the fines that have been levied out . . . almost a million dollars on the season so far tallied up for football players playing football and yet here we have a kid who was knocked unconscious. And all the things that we’ve put in place to protect our players, every one of them failed.”
Schlereth also took issue with the team’s position that the coaching staff didn’t notice Keenum’s predicament.
“For Jeff Fisher to say ‘Hey, I was in game-management mode,’ that’s an absolute bold-face lie,” Schlereth said. “It’s ludicrous.”
While it’s entirely possible that Fisher personally didn’t notice that Keenum was in distress, a member of the training staff did — and that person inexplicably left Keenum in the game. The “confluence of events” excuse that has resulted in no one being blamed overlooks the reality that, based on the end result, everyone should have been blamed — from the Rams to the game officials to the ATC spotter to even the teammate who helped a clearly impaired Keenum off the field and didn’t personally escort him to the sidelines.
If the procedure moving forward is that, if this happens again, everyone will indeed be held accountable, that should have been the procedure in the Keenum case.