NFL Needs To Stop Fumbling When It Comes To Concussion Protocol

SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports NFL insider Jarrett Bell explains why the New Orleans Saints have impressed him the most of any 7-2 team. USA TODAY Sports

Colts QB Jacoby Brissett winces on the turf Sunday.(Photo: Matt Kryger, The Indianapolis Star/USA TODAY Sports)

CONNECT>TWEET> 134 LINKEDIN 5 COMMENTEMAILMORE

Jacoby Brissett went limp, briefly appearing almost lifeless, after getting smacked in the head.

As the Indianapolis Colts quarterback was helped to his feet Sunday, it would have been easy to conclude — given the NFL’s concussion protocol — that he was done for the day.

Not quite.

More: Concussion expert has issues with NFL's protocol after Jacoby Brissett incident

More: Upon Further Review: Jason Garrett failed Cowboys by abandoning offense's identity

More: Jerry Jones taught a lesson by fellow owners: He's not as powerful as he once was

More: 40 things we learned in Week 10 of the 2017 NFL season

Brissett was examined, then cleared to return in the fourth quarter — when observers contend that it was obvious he wasn’t himself. It wasn’t until after the game that he was officially placed in the concussion protocol after exhibiting symptoms.

Oh my. A delayed reaction?

Sure, experts will tell you that sometimes the concussion symptoms don’t surface until later. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers went into the protocol Monday, a day after playing in Jacksonville. As for Brissett, I’m no expert, but the replay clearly shows the helmet-to-helmet blow that left him dazed.

“The player shouldn’t have even had to go through the protocol to be withheld from the game,” Chris Nowinski, a leading activist on the concussion front and co-founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, told USA TODAY Sports on Monday.

The case of Brissett, combined with the mockery that Seattle Seahawks star Russell Wilson made of the protocol during a nationally televised game last Thursday night, illustrates just how much further the NFL needs to go in managing the concussion issue. These cases, currently under review by the league and NFL Players Association, are warning signs reflecting the gray area that exists amid the well-intentioned procedure.

They are also setbacks.

For all the efforts of the NFL and union to encourage and develop tighter guidelines, increased awareness, better treatment and a new culture, we still get these situations that make you wonder whether there’s enough walk with the talk.

Of course, the protocols are not 100% foolproof. Yet cases like Brissett are the reason they exist in the first place — to better protect players while paying attention to the warning signs.

At least there was an examination and input from an independent neurologist before Brissett was cleared to return. In 2011, then-Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy wasn’t even looked at after absorbing a vicious blow from Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison — and like Brissett, McCoy's symptoms were exhibited in the locker room after the game.

That’s why Nowinski’s suggestion, that players should sit out longer even if they are initially “cleared,” makes so much sense.

Tell that to Wilson, Seattle's determined escape artist. The man who routinely resembles Harry Houdini while evading pass rushers demonstrated another type of evasiveness after taking a blow to the chin from Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby. Apparently, Wilson didn’t suffer a concussion. But the optics were horrible as Wilson raced back into action, seemingly failing to adhere to the concussion protocol before being cleared.

This illustrates what is tricky — and what could be dangerous. Wilson might have felt fine, especially with all of that adrenaline flowing. The referee, Walt Anderson, did right in directing him to the bench for an exam after Dansby's hit.

But Wilson was not feeling that sideline medical tent, bolting back onto the field after one play off. That was too fast. For all of its guidelines, the NFL’s culture is still built more on winning now, sucking it up and being courageous for teammates — not being cautious about a health issue that may burden your family decades from now.

Players don’t always buy into the league's new emphasis on safety, especially in the heat of the moment. But the NFL needs to send a stronger message to show that it will not get sloppy with this. The policy was strengthened in 2016, on the heels of a debacle involving then-Rams quarterback Case Keenum, to mandate a $150,000 fine to a team for its first violation of the protocol, with additional leeway for Commissioner Roger Goodell to levy the loss of draft picks if it’s proven that competitive issues factored into the disregard.

These things can be difficult to prove, which is why the league needs to consider mandatory minimum sit-time as a buffer to account for post-game symptoms. And as much as Wilson is the classic role model, the NFL can’t go easy on a star player if it's proven that he didn’t comply with the protocol.

The last thing the NFL and players union need is to foster an impression that treatment of head injuries is regressing to the 20th century.

In the midst of so much off-field drama — flowing from Goodell’s contractual impasse, protests and the suspension of Dallas star Ezekiel Elliott — it has been easy to be distracted.

But this issue — concussions and their long-term effects — remains one that can have more impact than any for the players and for the future of the league.

***

Follow NFL columnist Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell

PHOTOS: NFL injuries in 2017

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInNFL's notable injuries for 2017 season> Fullscreen

Posted!

A link has been posted to your Facebook feed.

Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Jamie Collins (51)
Browns LB Jamie Collins: Out for season with sprained medial collateral ligament.  Raj Mehta, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenSeahawks CB Richard Sherman: Out for season with ruptured
Seahawks CB Richard Sherman: Out for season with ruptured Achilles.  Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenVikings QB Sam Bradford: Out for rest of regular season
Vikings QB Sam Bradford: Out for rest of regular season with knee injury.  Patrick Gorski, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenPackers OT Bryan Bulaga: Out for season with torn anterior
Packers OT Bryan Bulaga: Out for season with torn anterior cruciate ligament.  Jim Matthews, Green Bay Press Gazette/USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenTexans quarterback Deshaun Watson attempts a pass during
Texans QB Deshaun Watson: Out for season with torn ACL.  Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenColts QB Andrew Luck: Yet to return from offseason
Colts QB Andrew Luck:Out for season after offseason shoulder surgery.  Kelley L Cox,USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenEagles OT Jason Peters: Out for season with torn ACL,
Eagles OT Jason Peters: Out for season with torn ACL, MCL.  Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenEagles LB Jordan Hicks: Out for season with torn Achilles.
Eagles LB Jordan Hicks: Out for season with torn Achilles.  Matt Rourke, AP>FullscreenCleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas (73) lays
Browns OT Joe Thomas: Out for season with torn triceps.  Ken Blaze, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenCardinals QB Carson Palmer: Out until at least Week
Cardinals QB Carson Palmer: Out until at least Week 16 with broken left arm.  Steven Flynn, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenColts S Malik Hooker: Out for remainder of season with
Colts S Malik Hooker: Out for remainder of season with knee injury.  Troy Wayrynen, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenRedskins DE Jonathan Allen: Expected to miss remainder
Redskins DE Jonathan Allen: Expected to miss remainder of season with Lisfranc injury.  Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenPackers QB Aaron Rodgers: Could miss rest of season
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers: Could miss rest of season with broken collarbone.  Brad Rempel, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenSep 10, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals
Bengals TE Tyler Eifert: Out for season after back surgery.  David Kohl, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenDetroit Lions defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (92) celebrates
Lions DT Haloti Ngata: Out for season with torn biceps.  Tim Fuller, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenOct 8, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;  New York Giants
Giants WR Brandon Marshall: Out for season with ankle injury.  Noah K. Murray, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenGiants WR Odell Beckham Jr.: Out for season with fractured
Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr.: Out for season with fractured ankle.  Noah K. Murray, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenTexans DE J.J. Watt: Out for season with tibial plateau
Texans DE J.J. Watt: Out for season with tibial plateau fracture.  The Associated Press>FullscreenVikings RB Dalvin Cook: Out for season with torn ACL.
Vikings RB Dalvin Cook: Out for season with torn ACL.  Brad Rempel, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenSeahawks RB Chris Carson: Out until at least Week 13
Seahawks RB Chris Carson: Out until at least Week 13 with ankle injury.  Steven Bisig, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenEagles RB Darren Sproles: Out for season with torn
Eagles RB Darren Sproles: Out for season with torn ACL, broken forearm.  Jay Biggerstaff, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenBrowns WR Corey Coleman: Out until at least Week 11
Browns WR Corey Coleman: Out until at least Week 11 with broken hand.  Ken Blaze, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenPanthers TE Greg Olsen: Expected to be out until at
Panthers TE Greg Olsen: Expected to be out until at least Week 9 with broken foot.  Jeremy Brevard, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenRavens OG Marshal Yanda: Out for season with ankle
Ravens OG Marshal Yanda: Out for season with ankle injury.  Nick Wass, AP>FullscreenCardinals RB David Johnson: Out until at least mid-November
Cardinals RB David Johnson: Out until at least mid-November with dislocated wrist.  Tim Fuller, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenChiefs S Eric Berry: Out for season with torn Achilles.
Chiefs S Eric Berry: Out for season with torn Achilles.  Greg M. Cooper, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenChiefs RB Spencer Ware: Out for season with torn posterior
Chiefs RB Spencer Ware: Out for season with torn posterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in knee.  Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenSep 10, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars
Jaguars WR Allen Robinson: Out for season with torn ACL.  Shanna Lockwood, Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenNew England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11)
Patriots WR Julian Edelman: Out for season with torn ACL.  Duane Burleson, AP>FullscreenBears WR Cameron Meredith: Out for season with torn
Bears WR Cameron Meredith: Out for season with torn anterior cruciate ligament in knee.  Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenDolphins QB Ryan Tannehill: Out for season with torn
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill: Out for season with torn anterior cruciate ligament in knee.  Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenJets WR Quincy Enunwa: Out for season after neck surgery.
Jets WR Quincy Enunwa: Out for season after neck surgery.  Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenSaints DT Nick Fairley: Out for season with heart condition.
Saints DT Nick Fairley: Out for season with heart condition.  Jake Roth, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen49ers OLB Malcolm Smith: Out for season with torn pectoral.
49ers OLB Malcolm Smith: Out for season with torn pectoral.  Stan Szeto, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenSeahawks OT George Fant: Out for season with torn anterior
Seahawks OT George Fant: Out for season with torn anterior cruciate ligament in knee.  Scott Eklund, AP>FullscreenVikings QB Teddy Bridgewater: Yet to return after suffering
Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater: Yet to return after suffering dislocated knee and torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2016.  Brace Hemmelgarn, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenBears WR Kevin White: Out until at least Week 9 with
Bears WR Kevin White: Out until at least Week 9 with fractured scapula.  Dennis Wierzbicki, USA TODAY Sports>FullscreenLions DL Kerry Hyder Jr.: Out for season with torn
Lions DL Kerry Hyder Jr.: Out for season with torn Achilles.  Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports>Fullscreen

Like this topic? You may also like these photo galleries:

    ReplayAutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide

     

    Source : https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/columnist/bell/2017/11/13/nfl-needs-stop-fumbling-concussion-protocol/860516001/

    NFL needs to stop fumbling when it comes to concussion protocol
    Researchers achieve breakthrough in CTE research on NFL players
    NFL Players Poised to Break Out in the Season's 2nd Half
    With about four minutes to go, I started to breathe easier. When we talk football, everybody’s getting bigger, faster, s
    2017 NFL midseason awards: Ranking every team’s MVP so far
    Fantasy Football Start 'Em Sit 'Em Week 11
    Game grades following the Dallas Cowboys loss to the Falcons
    Brady vs. Osweiler: This Time It’s Personal (Or Something), Four Teams Poised for a Second-Half Run, Not So Fast Teddy Bridgewater
    YUGE EFFECT! Donald Trump could be biggest reason for sharp dip in NFL ratings ... Sunday Morning Quarterback
    NFL Week 8 Picks: Betting Lines, Analysis, Predictions For Every Game