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NFL: Spotters concluded Cameron Brate was hit in the shoulder, not the head

Mike Florio doesn't understand how Cameron Brate was able to return to the field on Sunday following a head injury, and he believes the NFL needs to do a much better job at protecting its players.

The NFL’s “Concussion Game Day Checklist” consists of a flow chart that commences with a first step: “Player receives impact to the head.”

In the case of Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate, the NFL contends that step one didn’t happen.

“Immediately following the game, the NFL contacted team and unaffiliated medical personnel to gather information concerning the injury sustained by Tampa Bay’s Cameron Brate,” the NFL said in a statement provided to PFT. “The league reviewed the information with the NFL Players Association. Based on the standardized gameday reports, it is clear to both parties that the spotters in the booth concluded that Brate was hit in the shoulder and therefore did not trigger the concussion protocols. As soon as medical personnel identified concussion symptoms, they removed Brate from the game.”

The NFL Players Association has informed PFT that it reviewed the situation as well, and that it backs that assessment.

Beyond the fact that Brate did indeed sustain a concussion (as proven by the fact that he was removed from play, but only after returning for several snaps before halftime), the video doesn’t indicate a blow to the shoulder. At the end of the play that started with 1:35 remaining in the first half, Brate’s head CLEARLY collides with the torso of Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin.

The impact, combined with Brate’s reaction to it, absolutely should have prompted the two spotters (one is a Certified Athletic Trainer and the other is an Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant) to activate the protocol. We reject flatly and unequivocally the contention by the NFL and the NFLPA that Brate did not receive an impact to the head.

We realize that things are a little dicey right now, given the Tua Tagovailoa situation. There’s a natural inclination to circle the wagons. To look the other way so as not to make the heat too hot in the kitchen. Perhaps even to trot out some good, old-fashioned alternative facts. That’s absolutely the wrong approach.

While the system may not be “broken” (as Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy described it), the system failed in this situation. Brate received impact to the head. Everyone saw it. Everyone, apparently, except the two people who are paid to see it.

And if the league and the union can’t see that, maybe there should be a governmental agency that manages (and, as needed, micromanages) the game of professional football.