The Seattle Seahawks are the latest team that doesn’t seem to understand how serious the concussion issue is for NFL teams.
The Seahawks virtually ignored the league’s concussion protocol Thursday night in Phoenix when Russell Wilson was ordered off the field in the third period by referee Walt Anderson after Wilson was hit hard in the chin by Arizona’s Karlos Dansby, who was flagged for roughing the passer.
Anderson correctly felt that Wilson should be checked out for a concussion before he returned to the game. That is the league’s protocol. But that apparently isn’t what happened.
Wilson returned after one play when Austin Davis handed off to C.J. Prosise. He left the medical tent, saying he was fine. Then after the series was over, he returned to the tent.
The medical personnel obviously didn’t have time during one play to decide if Wilson should be cleared, and it’s uncertain if Wilson got a proper review the second time.
Wilson said after the game he passed tests on the sideline.
“I was 100-percent fine,’’ Wilson told Seattle reporters, saying that the only issue he had was his jaw.
“I got smacked in the jaw pretty good there,’’ Wilson said. “I wasn’t concussed or anything like that. I felt completely clear. I was just trying to move my jaw. I was like ‘ah man, it’s stuck.’ I think I was kind of laying down on the ground for a second just trying to get my jaw. I think maybe Walt thought I was, you know, maybe injured or something like that. I told him I was good, I was good. He said I had to come off the field. I think Walt did a great job, first of all. He made the smartest decision.’’
Wilson said when he was on the sideline that “we went over the whole concussion stuff. Went through every question you can imagine. I answered even some more just so they knew I was good and went back in there.’’
Granted, Wilson showed no obvious signs of a concussion when he returned, but that doesn’t excuse the Seahawks for not following the protocol.
To start with, the team physician is supposed to review video of the play and it’s uncertain if that happened.
Then the doctor must ask the player what happened and ask him a series of questions to make sure he knows where the game is being played and which team scored last.
If the player shows signs of a concussion, he is supposed to be taken to the locker room for a full examination.
The NFL issued a statement saying it will conduct a thorough review of what the Seahawks did. And it added the team can face discipline.
The could be fine a maximum fine of $150,000 and club employees or medical team members involved in the process will be required to attend remedial education.
Last year, the NFL seemed to let the Seahawks slide when it was revealed after the season that Richard Sherman played with a knee injury that the team didn’t disclose. The NFL took no action except to remind the Seahawks that the league taking reporting injuries seriously.
The NFL can’t let the Seahawks slide this time because the issue of concussions is too important to the future of the league.
The NFL got another reminder of how serious the concussion is when it was reported that an examination of the brain of Aaron Hernandez, who committed suicide, show severe damage rarely found in a 27-year-old man.
When the New York Times reported the findings, it didn’t identify Hernandez by name, but said the man committed suicide and worked in Foxboro, Mass.
It also said concussions “threaten the long term future of the industry in which the man worked.’’
That is why the NFL has to be proactive in dealing with the Seahawks and in reminding all the teams that concussions are a serious issue and must be taken seriously. Teams must stop ignoring the concussion protocols during a game.