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NFL to teams: Pull players if you even suspect a concussion

DeSean Jackson

FILE - This Oct. 17, 2010, file photo shows Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (10) being helped off the field after an injury during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, in Philadelphia. In a series of interviews with The Associated Press, representatives of the NFL, the NFL Players Association and the four equipment companies that make every helmet worn in the league all agreed there’s no such thing as a football helmet that eliminates concussions _ nor is one on the way anytime soon. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)


The NFL distributed a memo to all 32 teams this week in which the medical staffs were reminded that there should be absolutely no situation in which a player sets foot on the field after he has suffered a concussion.

The memo, which was forwarded to PFT, also makes clear that if the medical staff thinks a player could have suffered a concussion but hasn’t formally diagnosed one, that’s enough to take him out of the game.

Under the heading, “WHEN IN DOUBT LEAVE THEM OUT,” the memo states: “If you have any suspicion about a player being concussed, remove him from the game. Always err on the side of caution.”

Dr. Hunt Batjer and Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, the co-chairs of the league’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee, wrote the memo, which also notes that once a player is pulled, he can’t go back in until both the team doctor and an independent doctor say he’s ready to go.

“Any player suspected of having a concussion is a ‘NO GO’ and does not return to play in the same game or practice, and cannot return to play at all until he is cleared by both his team physician and an independent neurologist,” the memo says.

Medical staffs were also reminded of what’s known as the “Madden Rule.”

“Named for John Madden, who suggested it, this rules states that, if a player is diagnosed with a concussion and removed from a game, he must leave the field and be immediately escorted to the locker/training room, and a member of the medical staff (e.g., an ATC, paramedic, MD, fellow, or resident capable of medical intervention) must remain with the player to observe him if his injury does not require immediate hospitalization,” the memo says. “There are no exceptions to this rule and the player is NOT to return to the field under any circumstances. The Madden Rule is intended to protect the players. It provides a quiet environment to permit the player time to recover without distraction. This rule has been endorsed by the NFL Competition Committee and approved by the Commissioner.”

We’ll surely see situations in which players think they’re OK to play and say they don’t want to be escorted to the locker room. The NFL is telling medical staffs that they have the authority to order a player to the locker room whether he wants to go or not.