The NFL and NFL Players Association continue to independently investigate whether league officials complied with the concussion protocol during crunch time of Week One’s opening game. As to the investigations, crunch time apparently has not yet arrived.
Neither side has reached a conclusion, 17 days later. Per a league source, the NFL’s report is expected “soon.” During a Friday visit to PFT Live, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith described its investigation as being in the middle or the beginning.
Whenever both sides complete their work, the question becomes whether their conclusions conflict. If so, an arbitrator will be called upon to resolve whether a violation of the rules occurred.
The delay suggests that both sides are taking the matter seriously, as they should. It also suggests that it’s not the quick, simple, open-and-shut proposition that the league initially tried to characterize it as the day after the game.
The fact that referee Ed Hochuli so quickly ushered Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor off the field in the opening game of Week Two shows that the league has gotten the word out to take these matters more seriously, given that Taylor was in far less objective distress than Newton a week earlier.
Still, it’s one thing to send the quarterback out of the game in the third quarter. It’s quite another to yank him during the final drive with his team trailing by one point. The last thing the league wants to do is remove from play a key player in a key moment for a determination that he doesn’t have a concussion.
And the last thing any of the people with the power to remove the key player in a key moment wants to do is be the person who is publicly flagged as the one who made a decision to order an exam of a player who wasn’t concussed, keeping him off the field long enough to keep his team from winning.