Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk does a great job of covering the NFL. He has great observations and fact based information that those who read about the league find informative and refreshing. One such entry from Florio came today in his Week 4 10-pack;
5. League’s concussion procedures continue to cause skepticism.
Time and again, we see a player who apparently has suffered a concussion, but whose injury receives a different label altogether. Whether it’s neck or head or jaw, teams know that mere utterance of the “c” word knocks a guy out for the entire game.
On Sunday, the Steelers said that linebacker James Harrison suffered an eye injury. Harrison insists that he didn’t suffer a concussion, claiming that the forehead pad in his helmet hit him in the eye after he made a tackle.
The only problem with this is that the injury appeared to happen on a helmet-to-helmet hit from Texans left tackle Duane Brown, and the video doesn’t show any padding sliding into Harrison’s eye. And he didn’t make the tackle on the play.
Though it could be a matter of semantics, a football player’s desire to play football — coupled with a team’s reluctance to apply a tentative diagnosis that could shut him down automatically — surely influences the handling of borderline cases. Mild concussions can’t be diagnosed with an X-ray or any other medical instrument. It’s a judgment call, and it would be naive to assume that decades of the exercise of medical judgment in a manner that allows football players to play football would go completely out the window, especially in close cases.
As a result, truly independent neurologists should be making the assessment of players who may have concussions, and all doubt should be resolved in favor of keeping the player out, unless and until there is clear evidence that no concussion has been suffered.
Of course, that procedure should apply only during a game. At some point, a lucid player who is suffering some post-concussion symptoms should be permitted to assume the risk of incurring another concussion. But in the heat of the battle, any player who possibly has had a concussion should be yanked from the game and prevented from returning without proof that he’s indeed concussion-free.
Florio is not only accurate in his assessment of the Harrison incident, he has broached the subject of game-day decisions. This has obviously been a very “gray” area, as seen in the Vick case, but the need for an independent source for evaluation and determination of return to play is needed. Or, perhaps the medical staff’s of each team should be allowed to do their job without intervention from players, coaches and ownership on game days.
Thanks Florio for writing what we have been saying for some time.
Neither the NFL nor the NFLPA wants a true medical referee on the field. Certainly, the Head and Neck (“concussion committee”), NFL Docs or ATC want anyone thinking for themselves on the field (all these parties are subject to malpractice litigation as they failed to follow proper medical diagnostic procedures for years).
It is not until the League and the PA have lost in court will we actually see neutral parties step up for the players, and the fans.
Florio needs to say the same things on air, either via radio or (better yet) when he is on NFL Sunday Night Football. THAT will make the biggest impact with fans.