Patriots coach Bill Belichick says he has taken players out of games because he suspected they suffered a concussion, even if the medical staff cleared the player to play.
“I’ve definitely done that before. Oh yeah,” Belichick said on WEEI. “If I see a player that I think is not functioning properly that for some reason has not been identified, then absolutely I would [take them out]. I have done that. I would say not recently, but those are things that have happened at other points in my career.
“If a player doesn’t look he’s functioning properly, we evaluate him with the medical people. But even if the medical people were to clear a player, we still go through a coaching clearance to make sure he’s ready to play football and not just medically cleared. We’ve always had a secondary evaluation on that.”
The Dolphins are facing intense criticism for putting Tua Tagovailoa back in their Week Three game against the Bills after he stumbled to the ground with what the team said is a back injury but some believe was actually a brain injury.
Belichick has also faced criticism in his coaching career for his handling of players’ brain injuries, most notably from former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson, who has said that he sustained a second concussion after Belichick told him to practice following his first concussion, in defiance of the team’s medical staff.
Belichick may have learned since that incident. The NFL has learned a lot over the years, but the Tagovailoa case shows there’s a lot more that teams need to learn.