Sunday Night Debacle

Sunday Night Football (TM by NBC and NFL) was going to be a good watch with Mike Vick returning to his original place of employment.  Not only was that an underlying tone, the Atlanta Falcons faced an early season “must win”, the first half it did not disappoint as both teams scored and forced mistakes from the other team.  As the second half began it looked as though the visiting Eagles were going to take full control of  the game, and to be honest my interest started to wane a bit, then Dunta Robinson happened again.  It was his hit in Week 6 last year that started the avalanche of eyes on concussions in the NFL.  Tonight he basically did the same thing – the hit seen below (will be removed by NFL) and should be met with both a fine and suspension – and brought attention to the broadcast for what became a massive debacle in my opinion.

Later in the drive, not only did Jeremy Maclin return to the game after the hit from Robinson (and being “down”), he caught a pass from Vick, but behind the play Vick was injured.  As you can see in this video Vick’s head was hit by his offensive lineman initially rotating it then the force of Vick going down caused Vick’s head to “whip” back.  In this video we can see a dynamic rotational and deceleration of the head, leading to him being observed as groggy and “off” from the broadcast.

With the NFL trumpeting more awareness about concussions including how you can sustain one along with the SIGNS and symptoms of a concussion, one would think that the announcers would be aware as well.  Guess not, as there was nothing from the booth regarding his possible head injury, they only mentioned something when cameras caught Vick spitting out blood.

As he sat on the sideline, Twitter exploded with keen observers, trying to figure out why NO ONE was stating the OBVIOUS, in this case he had sustained an injury to his head;

  • @breezee05: @concussionblog And now a clearly wobbly woozy Vick leaves the game….He’ll be back too right?
  • @concussionblog: Certainly does not look lower extremity on Vick, that blow to the head: unanticipated deceleration, classic mechanism…
  • @concussionblog: Vick off to the locker room, could this be our first concussion eval we have seen, per NFL guidelines…
  • @concussionblog: Here is the recommended protocol for head injuries in the NFL…
  • @dtray98: @concussionblog Shocking that he has a “neck injury”
  • @breezee05: @concussionblog In other words a reported Vick neck injury to go along with the unreported concussion.
  • @ke11yrider: @concussionblog he could walk off because it was “simply a tongue injury.” Bitten tongues are evaluated off the field all the time right?
  • @whodat9000: @concussionblog Concussion coverup injuries are like the guy who was turned into a newt in Monty Python: “I got better”.
  • @badsatc04: @concussionblog @mjcatc @BleacherReport oh yeah cuz didnt u know the tongue is connected to the
  • @NoshirDO_ATC: @concussionblog it’s not a concussion because he can’t answer any of the history questions if his tongue is bleeding. lol
  • @Marcella_Powers: @concussionblog of course it’s a neck injury. “Whiplash” right?
  • @mjatc: @concussionblog @stephania_espn @injuryexpert @mortreport Neck is NFL lingo for concussion silly!

It was, in my opinion, erroneously reported that Vick had a “neck” injury off the bat.  As you can see from a sampling of the tweets about this situation the facade was not working.  What became even more troubling was the comments that started about the announcers.  We understand they are not medical professionals but they do comment on obvious orthopedic injuries – if an ankle gets twisted announcers are quick to point that out – why the obvious aversion to noting that player X has hurt his head?  Heck we ran a story from another blogger about this problem.  @breezee05 was on fire with this issue as he made two tweets regarding this;

  • @concussionblog In many ways the broadcasters are “enablers” to not question the farcical reporting.1/2.
  • @concussionblog I get it that they’re not medically qualified to do so.They can call out the flagrant disregard 4 concussion protocol. 2/2

And @KMeyerATC had this to say;

  • NBC should be ashamed of how they covered Vick’s injury. Clearly experiencing concussion symptoms but no one will say it.

This is EXACTLY where the communication breaks down.  The NFL wants more awareness and education but when that happens, those that choose to learn often see the hypocrisy of this particular injury.  We all see something we have been told to look for and then are told something different.  In the case of Vick, he was not exactly steady leaving the field with assistance and appeared “dazed” as he sat on the bench after sustaining a blow to the head then left the field with a “neck injury”.  Do the announcers have the authority to discuss a particular injury, probably not, but if a situation like this arises why can they not talk about concussions in the general sense and explain what the NFL is doing about it.  The easy answer to this is that announcers do not want to make a team look bad by not doing what has been suggested of them, so they will not mention it.  Regardless people listen to the announcers, people yearn for information about injuries, why not be proactive?

How did we come to the conclusion that is was a debacle?  Because the coach had the cajones to be honest and use the scary “C” word; as Andy Reid confirmed what the twitterverse had been suspecting, Mike Vick had a concussion.  Not only did he avoid terms like “ding” (as Trent Dilfer on ESPN) or “mild” he stated it as it should be an injury.  It was very comforting to see an NFL employee and announcer take it a step further with this tweet;

  • @richeisen: Can we please stop calling a concussion “slight?” Either your brain smashed against the inside of your skull or it didn’t.

Although the semantics from Rich Eisen may be a bit off (the brain does not have to make contact with the skull), the effort and purpose of the tweet is LOUD AND CLEAR, thank you Mr. Eisen.

This brings me to the point of this blog and post…

The injury of concussion is not the major problem, sure IT IS A BRAIN INJURY, but just like breaking a bone or tearing a ligament a concussion is an inherent risk of sports and life in general.  The ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM, is the horrid mismanagement of the injury, from recognition, assessment, management and recovery.

Everyone stop acting like the word “concussion” will ruin your life, IT WILL NOT IN ALMOST ALL CASES.  What will cause harm in the near and long-term is the improper management of the injury.


P.S. I would like to prevent any of the mouth gear companies from trying to say one of their products would have helped with this statement I made on twitter;

  • Mouth gear does not and CANNOT help attenuate rotational/acceleration/deceleration of the brain in the skull, PERIOD…

7 thoughts on “Sunday Night Debacle

  1. Monica Steinborn September 19, 2011 / 07:58

    Goes along with announcers of I believe a college game. They didn’t think the player that was down would be concussion injury because his head didn’t hit the ground. Wish I could remember which game it was.

  2. Paul LaDuke, ATC September 19, 2011 / 08:13

    Everyone stop acting like the word “concussion” will ruin your life, IT WILL NOT IN ALMOST ALL CASES. What will cause harm in the near and long-term is the improper management of the injury.

    Great wrap up! Concussions aren’t the problem, mismanagement of concussed athlete is!

    Keep up the great work Dustin!

  3. hank September 19, 2011 / 10:58

    keep shining the light on this important issue. too many of us learned the dangers of head injuries in football after the fact. especially kids and teenagers.

  4. Jonathan Lifshitz, Ph.D. September 19, 2011 / 12:47

    Kudos to you Dustin.

  5. VtRaceMom September 19, 2011 / 18:19

    Did anyone see the helmet to helmet hit in the 4th between the Patriots and the Chargers? The Patriots player was going for the sideline and a Charger player threw a hit with his head. The Patriots player went down, lay still then clutched his helmet for a moment. I was so busy watching his reactions after the hit I neglected to note who it was or his number. He also appeared to exhibit the classic stiffened forearm “fencing response” as he was hit and fell to the ground.
    My reason for asking if anyone else noted this is that the announcers said NOTHING about a possible head injury. I checked the injury reports and none of the Patriots players were listed as having incurred a head or “neck” injury.
    Would love to hear other comments.
    Keep up the good work toward increased awareness and proper management Dustin!

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