SBD/December 11, 2017/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Reviewing Events Following Tom Savage Hit; League Panned For Handling Of Situation

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Savage returned to the sideline after one series after a doctor called for more tests
NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills has "initiated a review" of the events surrounding Texans QB Tom Savage's concussion yesterday against the 49ers and has "already spoken to several medical personnel involved," according to Brian Smith of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE (12/11). In Houston, Aaron Wilson notes Savage "absorbed a crushing hit" that left him "lying on the ground in the end zone with his arms shaking while held above his torso." Savage was "visibly shaken up by the hit and went to the sideline inside a medical tent where he was initially cleared under the concussion protocol and went back in the game for one series and two incompletions." When Savage returned to the sideline after one series, a doctor "noticed he was experiencing symptoms and called for more tests." Although it "took some time for the symptoms to be noticed," it "appears the concussion rules were followed." The Texans and NFL have been "getting ripped for the situation." The NFL routinely "reviews concussion situations through its chief medical officer" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/11). 

WHO'S TO BLAME? The CHRONICLE's Smith wonders how the NFL "keeps allowing this to happen week after week, month after month, year after year?" Savage "staying down for several seconds, then barely moving as his hands shake and his fingers are held out" looks "horrible." He should "never have been allowed to return to the field." The primary blow "was recorded with 9:18 left in the second quarter." By the second half, the "constantly replayed video of a stunned and shaking Savage was already a leading national story." That is how "disturbing the slow-motion replay images were -- and how bad the concussion-weary NFL looks for the 828th time." Smith wonders if the league is "taking concussions seriously" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/11). In S.F., Ann Killion asks why Savage was "allowed to go back into the game after being evaluated by an independent neurologist." The league likely will "respond to the incident sometime this week with a boilerplate statement about its concern for the players’ safety." And players will "continue to be put back in games when they shouldn’t be." But the NFL "has to be more vigilant." This is the "biggest problem with the NFL." People "don’t want to witness such serious injuries, not with what we now know about what the game does to players’ brains." But the league "doesn’t seem too worried" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/11).

NEW EVALUATION NEEDED? USA TODAY's Nancy Armour asks, "Does someone have to die on the field before the NFL acknowledges that its concussion protocol is ineffective?" Armour: "Because that's where we're headed." There are "two trained spotters in the press box," a team doctor on the sidelines and an "unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant on the sidelines." Week after week, the NFL is "leaving its players in harm's way." How many more "have to be hurt -- or worse -- before something is done?" (USA TODAY, 12/11). The GUARDIAN's Les Carpenter writes what is "clear is the NFL’s procedure for handling concussions is not working." Asking team doctors to diagnose concussions in quick exams held in tents behind the bench is "probably not the best way to decide if a player is healthy enough to remain in a game." It pits the "eternal dilemma of a team’s lust for winning against a player’s safety and is the same kind of shoddy medicine that has gotten the NFL into a head trauma mess to begin with" (GUARDIAN, 12/11).

TWITTER REAX
: Concussion Legacy Foundation co-Founder & CEO Chris Nowinski: "I would not let my worst enemy go through the 2017 #NFL sideline concussion protocol." Film producer Adam Best: "The NFL and its teams still aren't taking head trauma seriously enough." ESPN's Damien Woody: "How can an independent neurologist look at that Tom Savage play & somehow clear him to go back in?" Dallas-based KRLD-FM's Mike Fisher: "Tell me again the #NFL truly cares about empowering the officials and protecting its players. Imagine this is your father, brother, son. Yet he re-entered game. A travesty." Bleacher Report's Dylan MacNamara: "Concussion protocol is beyond useless." Fantasy sports writer Seth Klein: "May not be for 20 years, but it's stuff like that'll be the eventual downfall of the NFL."

SAFETY IMPORTANT TO LEAGUE
: CBS Sports Network's Amy Trask noted the sincerity of the NFL trying to make the game safer has been questioned, and she said, "The league does care. The league has every business and economic incentive to care. I'm not suggesting that they don't care for other reasons, but for anyone who is dubious as to whether the league cares, every business and economic interest dictates that the league cares." However, she said the league needs to "do something creative, something more than simply ejecting players, fining players, suspending players." Trask: "The league needs to empower players and coaches to be part of fashioning creative solutions. When the players and the coaches are part of the process, dictating what direction the game will go, the players and coaches are going to feel empowered” (“That Other Pregame Show,” CBSSN, 12/10).
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