Not only is Scott Fujita a veteran on the NFLPA Executive Committee but he is a concussion “survivor” as I call them. Someone who has experienced the injury and managed it correctly. Scott Fujita plays for the Cleveland Browns the same team that DID NOT perform a concussion evaluation on Colt McCoy last Thursday (in my humble opinion I think the Browns have had a very good track record up until this incident);
“The one thing I know is that when it comes to this issue, players, coaches, and team medical personnel struggle in the heat of the moment,” Fujita said earlier in the day, in an email sent both to King and to PFT. “This has been an ongoing problem for years. The game-day sideline is intense, there’s a lot going on, and we can’t always count on everyone to make the most responsible decisions.”
Because of this Fujita has told Peter King and myself that there will be dialogue on the matter of placing someone truly independent on the sidelines to avoid the situation;
“So when it comes to head injuries, I think the only real solution I’ve heard that might help remedy this problem is to have an independent neurological consultant on the sideline,” Fujita added. “I think we may have missed an opportunity to properly address this as we were finalizing the CBA. Hopefully it’s not too late to get it right.”
The plan that seems to have the most traction at the time is one put forth by Mike Florio; two independent neurologists that will handle when “buzzed” by the observer. Although this plan is well received, Will Carroll likes it but thinks only one is needed, I feel there could be an improvement on it.
I suggest the one neurologist, like Carroll, but I think you need a couple of health care professionals that know how the “sideline environment” works. Currently if there is no call from an observer or capitulation from team medical staff the independent neuro would not see the player. If there were independent athletic trainers that observed on the sideline and did the initial screen from the observer it would remove the conflict of interest that could still exist with the proposed mechanism. It would also save money and time. If the independent AT walked over listened in, and in cases where it was “buzzed” down, took control and did a very quick concussion screen many more incidents would be captured.
Players will never be 100% truthful, that is why the team need not have the chance to plausibly deny or miss a brain injury because of other “complaints” by the player. Have a couple of AT’s on hand, not paid by the team – rather the league, that will decipher the need for the neuro in the very unique working environment of a sports sideline.