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NFL, NFLPA issue dueling statements regarding concussion protocol

Nyheim Hines’ concussion against the Broncos leads Mike Florio and Peter King to discuss the disagreement between the NFL and NFLPA on how the Tua Tagovailoa situation was handled.

The NFL and NFL Players Association typically work cooperatively, when it comes to the conclusion protocol. The September 25 incident involving Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has sparked multiple disagreements between the league and the union.

The Tagovailoa investigation has sparked two questions. First, were the current protocols followed? Second, will the current protocols be changed?

It became obvious on Thursday night that the two sides disagree on whether the protocols were followed when doctors cleared Tagovailoa to return to the game against the Bills. NFLPA Executive Committee member Richard Sherman said during the Colts-Broncos pregame said that the union believes the protocols were not followed, and that the league believes they were.

As to possible changes to the protocol, the NFL and NFLPA issued a joint statement last weekend that strongly suggested agreed revisions would be implemented. It was widely reported and generally accepted that the new protocol would make “gross motor instability” an automatic “no go,” with no exceptions.

The initial goal was to activate the changes for Week Five. That didn’t happen before the first game of the weekend, in Denver.

Late Friday, the NFLPA issued this statement: “Our union has agreed to change the concussion protocols to protect players from returning to play in the case of any similar incident to what we saw on September 25. We would like these changes to go into effect before this weekend’s game to immediately protect the players and hope the NFL accepts the change before then.”

The league responded with a statement of its own.

“As we have discussed with the NFLPA,” the NFL said, “we agree that changes to the joint NFL-NFLPA protocols are necessary to further enhance player safety. We have already spoken to members of the NFL Head, Neck, and Spine Committee and the leadership of the Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultants and Independent Certified Athletic Trainers who serve as spotters to discuss these likely changes.”

Fine, so why haven’t the changes been made? Hopefully, the league isn’t withholding final agreement on protocol changes until the union agrees that the protocols were followed as to Tagovailoa. These are two separate issues, and they should be treated that way.