By Ken Reed
The Houston Texans’ Tom Savage was down on the ground. His hands were shaking uncontrollably, like he was having a seizure. He had taken a brutal shot to the head and it was clear he wasn’t right.
Yet, minutes later, he was back on the field playing quarterback. Somebody on the Texans’ sideline permitted Savage to re-enter the game. Shortly thereafter, it became increasingly clear he had suffered a concussion and he came back out of the game.
There’s an ongoing problem here. What is it in the NFL’s concussion protocol that allowed him to be cleared for additional action? How can millions of people watching on TV realize that Savage should be removed from the game and not allowed to return but medical personnel on the Texans’ sideline can’t?
This is serious stuff. Athletes that return to play too soon following a concussion are at higher risk for a rare but serious, and sometimes fatal, condition known as Second Impact Syndrome.
Moreover, the issue at hand isn’t just about the Savage case. There have been multiple situations this season, and in recent years, in which the league’s concussion protocol has failed miserably, putting the health of players in grave danger.
Following a situation in which Colt McCoy was allowed to return to a game after suffering a concussion in a 2011 game, players, coaches, doctors and fans called for a new system.
“There are league-wide problems in procedure, and that’s what needs to be addressed,” said former Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita. “You can’t point your finger at any one thing. It’s the process.”
Well, it’s December 2017 and the process is still messed up. And it needs to be addressed immediately, before a player dies on the field from Second Impact Syndrome.
“Football is a violent game where brutal hits occur. After years of denying any correlation between the game and head trauma, the league is now butchering how to handle its preventative measures—both proactive and reactive.”
It’s all simply shameful.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of FansPrint
- League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.