NFL Concussion Crew

The change for the NFL in searching for and making sure all players with concussion symptoms get checked out will make its debut this weekend.  The addition of non-team paid (NFL) athletic trainers will help with game observation.  The wide angle and TV in the booth should alleviate some of the issues of being preoccupied or blocked from the action.

The concussion observing athletic trainer will not have the authority to actually pull the players nor make any recommendations regarding evaluation.  Rather they will be in communication with both teams to insure that Player X has been checked out.  This process would be similar to the Head Impact Telemetry System (HITS) being employed on college and high school fields.  Instead of using a pager to notify the athletic trainer of an exceedingly high impact, the “independent” athletic trainer will call down to the sidelines.

Yesterday on the Baribeau & Scarbo Show I discussed how it may in fact go down.  I was and still curious as to how the team athletic trainer will receive this new policy.  Personally at first I would be put off by it, call it ego, but after taking emotion out of it I would embrace the ability to keep everyone as safe as possible.  John Norwig, head athletic trainer for the Pittsburgh Steelers, seems more than happy to have the surveillance;

“To have a trainer who is used to taking care of players providing another set of eyes, I don’t have any problem with it.”

Norwig’s comments are in direct contrast to a conversation I had with an NFL athletic trainer around this time last year.  I was told that simple observation could not identify possible concussions; one had to be on the sidelines to determine if anything actually happened.  Needless to say this person was extremely adamant that what we did on this blog was “out-of-bounds”.

The simple fact is that not all concussions are seen or reported for many reasons.  The job of an athletic trainer is to protect athletes from injury and themselves, so the “McCoy Rule” is a good thing and a great first step.

All that being said, I am still waiting for the NFL to give me a call, I think our track record speaks for itself.


3 thoughts on “NFL Concussion Crew

  1. BryanATC December 22, 2011 / 15:00

    While putting the independent ATC in an “observational” position is good, because the sidelines of a game can be incredibly chaotic and sometimes one injury can distract you from another (i.e. last year Kevin Colb suffers a concussion and distracted the medical staff from being able to observe Stewart Bradley’s concussion).

    In the McCoy situation, the excuse that the medical staff didn’t see the hit is complete BS. You can see on the tv feed the same person who is tending to McCoy (dark khaki pants, brown leather jacket, white shoes, glasses) see the hit and begin walking towards the field just as the play ends. He sees it the entire way. (If you watch the actual play, watch the down marker where the play ends, you can see him start walking up right behind the official).

    Being that the someone on the medical staff did see the play yet STILL didn’t evaluate him, how is an independent observer who has no power to pull someone from the game going to change that?

    If the independent ATC calls down and says “check so and so”, they say “ok”. What then? If the sideline says there is no evidence of a concussion, then do they still have to pull them inside the locker room to do a full evaluation?

    It will help in the situations like the Kolb/Bradley one, but in the McCoy one, what will be different?

    • Dustin Fink December 22, 2011 / 17:21

      Great observation Bryan… Hence the need for an independent evaluator as well…

      • Joe Bloggs December 22, 2011 / 19:55

        It is a problem but the more boards keeps commenting the NFL will be held to a standard instead of just spinning nonsense.

        The same holds true for the decades of bogus research. The NFL concussion committee was formed in 1994 and cooked research for 15 years. While the NFLPA and NFL have bought off many researchers in the new committee and the old committee is still invloved including Joe Wakerle (only member held over, Joe Maroon (Impact, Penguins, Steelers), Mark Lovell (Impact, Penguins, Steelers), , Ira Casson (Jets), and Eliot Pellman (NFL) are still influencing policy.

        Now that the NFL is being sued in multipple jurisdictions, the smart move is to fight and fudge and then through the corrupt docs under the bus.

        Some lawyer will use the docs as a fulcrum to get to the NFL and the NFL will feed them to the fishes. Once the docs figure out this is logical strategy and the rest of their known lives will be consumed by court apparences they will rollover. I am sure their malpractice insurance companies are tunnelling out of their obligations as they will not pay for fraud. I am also sure the insurers will enfornce limits of liability strictly so many of the medical professsionals will need to dip deeply into their own pockets for defense.

        Expect divide and conquer. Our job is to keep the leagues honest and keep the kids safe.

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