Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford landed in the concussion protocol on the Wednesday after the Week Nine loss to the Buccaneers. He missed the Week 10 loss to the Cardinals.
Now, as Week 11 approaches, Stafford has received full clearance to play. The Rams made the announcement earlier this evening.
The development comes after coach Sean McVay discussed Stafford’s status with reporters on multiple occasions over the past nine days. On Friday, for example, McVay said (before Stafford was cleared) that “Matthew will get with the doctors after today’s practice and try to be able to go through where you fully end up clearing. [We] don’t expect any setbacks in that regard.”
On Tuesday, McVay said that Stafford is “[s]till working through those types of things and so we are hopeful to get a little bit more clarity on some of those things this afternoon, whether that means he’s out of [the protocol] or whether he’ll continue to remain in it, but I don’t have that information right now.”
McVay also talked about Stafford’s status in the protocol after Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals, and on the Friday before the game.
“It could go all the way up until 90 minutes before kickoff [against the Cardinals] because when you’ve got a guy that’s a veteran player like him, you’re not going to risk at all,” McVay said last Friday. “We’re not going to skip any steps. I don’t want that to be misunderstood, but I think it would be silly of me to rule him out when you’re talking about our quarterback, the guy that means so much to us if there’s a possibility while not being able to risk him. That’s kind of where we’re at with that.”
Why are we mentioning this? Because coaches supposedly shouldn’t be saying anything about players in the protocol.
That was the message sent by the league in November 2016. A memo from NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent instructed teams to “refrain from making public comments regarding the condition of a concussed player or speculating as to when he may return to practice and play once in the concussion protocol.”
The memo also told teams that, in response to questions about players in the protocol, the teams should say only “that the player is in the concussion protocol under the supervision of the medical team, and the club will monitor his status.”
We’ve recently asked the league, on three occasions, for guidance as to whether that’s still the rule. The league has responded to none of these requests.
The league apparently also didn’t tell McVay to quit talking about Stafford’s status.
It’s a strange situation, and the league for whatever reason refuses to provide the media, and in turn the fans, with any clarity. Has the mandate to not talk about players in the protocol been abandoned? Or is it, like so many other NFL rules, something that is enforced only selectively — or not at all?