Players want concussion expert on sidelines, NFL has resisted
The Evander Holyfielding of Matt Schaub, with his helmet playing the role of Mike Tyson, created plenty of buzz and groans and other stuff that makes events like that newsworthy.
But lost in the incident was the fact that Schaub, who was blasted by Broncos linebacker Joe Mays, missed only one play.
So how did Schaub, who was holding his head on the ground with both hands, get cleared to return, given that anyone with a functioning brain would suspect that Schaub may have suffered an injury to his? The Texans claim that they followed NFL protocol.
“Our doctors . . . any time any player is on the field they go through the same protocol so the minute I went out there, [team doctor] Walt [Lowe] told me he’s fine, he’s got a big cut on his ear,” coach Gary Kubiak said after the game. “So, obviously they took him off the field and I knew it would be a play or two before he came back, but he was obviously very sharp. He was talking to me out there and Walt follows the same procedure all the time.”
With the NFL requiring an independent neurologist to clear a player to return from a concussion, why isn’t an independent neurologist involved in evaluating a player for a concussion? And why does the NFL continue to allow the evaluation to occur amid the noise and confusion of the sideline at an NFL game? In Schaub’s case, it just doesn’t seem like enough time was spent ensuring that Schaub is OK.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said during a Monday appearance on ESPN 980 in Washington (via SportsRadioInterviews.com) that the union has asked the league to have a “sideline concussion expert” at every game, and that the NFL is “fighting us on that, too.”
The league has done much to improve the handling of players who have been diagnosed with concussions. But there’s plenty of room for improvement when it comes to diagnosing concussions. And the various teams surely have little or no desire to see cumbersome procedures that take a star player to a locker room for a proper evaluation keep them out of games for extended stretches.
Even if, in the end, that’s the right thing to do.