This is what we clearly see on the video of North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner from Saturday's game: He rolls right, tries to put his head down to get in the end zone and gets nailed by Wake Forest safety Duran Lowe and outside linebacker Zachary Allen. Renner turns to the sidelines, points at his head, and passes out.
You believe you just saw a player suffer a scary concussion, but Renner and North Carolina coach Larry Fedora insist that wasn't the case.
Renner just hurt his ribs. Had the wind knocked out of him. Nothing to see here.
From the News & Observer:
"After going back and evaluating it, it [had] nothing to do with his head," Fedora said. "I mean, there was no contact to his head. He got the wind knocked out of him. And got hit pretty good. Actually, the two guys that made contact with themselves — it was a pretty violent hit on each other."
Renner told the paper he has had a concussion before, but this was something different, more like an injury to his ribs. I've never seen a guy get hit in the ribs and point to his head before.
However, having the wind knocked out of you could very well cause you to pass out on the field, as Renner did.
This is where the issue with concussions gets tricky. Renner passed two concussion tests after the hit, he said. He told the trainers he just had the wind knocked out of him. What should the team do? Players are certainly capable of lying about concussions, so should a team take a player at his word and let him back on the field, or decide just from watching the hit that he did get a concussion, sideline tests notwithstanding?
I've watched the replay plenty of times. Renner doesn't get hit in the ribs, he clearly started to curl up and brace for impact before he got hit. Lowe comes in above the shoulders and hits Renner pretty hard. Renner does seem to take a shot to the back as well. But if I've had to watch the replay several times clicking frame-by-frame to see where Renner was hit and still can't conclusively tell what caused him to pass out on the field, there's no way the trainers could tell just by watching in real time if Renner had a concussion or not. Maybe he did pass out when he couldn't catch his breath. Maybe he had a concussion that caused him to lose consciousness and UNC allowed him to keep playing, which would be a terrible oversight. Only Renner knows for sure.
Renner fumbled on his next series, and generally didn't play as well after that big hit. He was 11 of 13 for 107 yards before the hit. He was 12 of 26 for 164 yards after it. But, that isn't definite proof of his injury either.
This is the concussion era in football. Every decision by a training staff and coach regarding a possible concussion will be thoroughly analyzed, and for good reason. It will make their job a lot tougher. They have to be right.
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