FOXBORO -- When Patrick Chung was removed from his team's Week 2 game in Jacksonville, it came as some surprise. Not simply because he rarely leaves the field when the Patriots defense is out there, but because he was announced as having a concussion.
The reason that seemed odd was because the play during which Chung absorbed a blow to the helmet was not his last. He came off the field for one snap after being slow to get up. Then he returned for more action, and he was later beaten by tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins for a touchdown. He did not come back out of the locker room following halftime.
The NFL and NFLPA looked into why, if Chung had a concussion, he wasn't pulled from the game and evaluated following that earlier hit to the head. The details of that joint investigation were made public on Thursday afternoon as the NFL and NFLPA released a statement about the application of the concussion protocol that day.
Here is the statement in full:
The NFL and NFLPA concluded their review of the application of the Concussion Protocol involving New England Patriots' safety Patrick Chung during the Patriots-Jaguars game on September 16. The NFL and NFLPA conducted interviews with relevant Patriots personnel, the game official involved, the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC) and the booth ATC spotter, all of whom fully cooperated in the review.
The interviews established that the booth ATC spotter, booth UNC, sideline medical staff, and the game official each concluded that they did not need to initiate the Protocol. The game official observed that Mr. Chung was slow to get up and therefore removed him from play, but he did not identify a need to trigger the Protocol. Additionally, the unaffiliated medical personnel (booth UNC and booth ATC spotter) reviewed the play, did not identify a mechanism of injury and concluded the player was not exhibiting signs or symptoms suggestive of a concussion and therefore did not initiate the Protocol.
After Mr. Chung returned to the game for several plays, the Patriots' coaching staff observed behavior that warranted a sideline review and the Protocol was triggered. The UNC and team medical staff conducted a sideline evaluation, which per the Concussion Game Day Checklist required a review of the video from the earlier play. Mr. Chung was cleared by the UNC and team medical staff. Subsequently, as is standard practice, the player remained under close observation following the sideline exam. During halftime, Mr. Chung was re-evaluated by the Club's medical staff and the UNC and found to have potential concussion symptoms and therefore was ruled out for the remainder of the game. Mr. Chung had delayed development of concussions symptoms, which is not uncommon, and was removed as soon as that was recognized.
As a result of these findings, the NFL and NFLPA both concluded that the Protocol was not violated. The parties will continue to educate all stakeholders about the Protocol and emphasize conservative care.