The Washington Redskins' time in the NFL's doghouse doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon. Earlier this year, the Redskins were docked a total of $36 million in salary cap space for alleged violations of the NFL's unofficial cap during the uncapped offseason of 2011. Then, the 'Skins were using a landscape without order to offload a number of contracts. Now, the team could be in major trouble for the way in which the concussion of quarterback Robert Griffin III was handled.
From the Twitter account of Fox NFL insider Jay Glazer:
Redskins are facing a HEFTY fine from the NFL for handing of RG3 injury when they said last week he was "shaken up." NFL want teams to immediately acknowledge a head injury to prevent concussed players from getting pushed back on field.
Now, we could all point to several instances in which players with concussions have been pushed back on the field as examples of the league's hypocrisy (start with Calvin Johnson and Colt McCoy), but per the NFL, that's not the point. When Griffin was knocked out of last Sunday's 24-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, someone from the team issued the words "shaken up" in describing his condition.
"I spoke to [Redskins team physician] Tony Casolaro," Thom Mayer, the NFLPA's medical director, told Mark Maske of the Washington Post. "I'm not sure who used the term 'shaken up.' But he assured me it wasn't him. It certainly wasn't Tony. That's not a medical term."
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan tried to explain his thought process the next day:
"When you look at it on the sideline, Robert said to me he's fine," Shanahan said. "I said, 'No, you're not fine. I don't think you're fine. Your eyes look a little glassy.' Our doctors talked to him and he knew the quarter, knew the score. So they took him back into that little box behind our bench and asked him again what was the quarter, what was the score. The second time, he missed it…. So that's when they took him into the locker room and administered the test, the concussion test. That's when they decided that he had a concussion."
Later, Shanahan said: "I knew, when he didn't know the quarter, that the chances of him coming back were zero. Now, could that have been [announced] sooner? Possibly."
Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins said that he was told he would have to finish the game, which aligns with the idea that the Redskins did report that Griffin was concussed. When such a report is made, a player cannot come back into a game.
So, it appears the NFL is going to lower the boom on the Redskins based on timing and semantics. A team spokesperson told Maske that the "shaken up" term was used before Griffin was deemed to have a concussion.
"I'm not sure where that came from," Mayer told Maske. "Obviously people other than the medical staff were involved between when he was examined and when that was said… It goes to the question of whether in the future, are we going to have to be more descriptive, not only with our medical staffs but also with our PR staffs and those who dispense this information to the public?"
That's a very good point, but if the 'Skins are going to get blasted by the NFL for an error in terminology, why weren't the Cleveland Browns fined for throwing McCoy back in a game last year when he was clearly concussed, and why was Calvin Johnson allowed to come back into the Detroit Lions' Week 4 loss to the Minnesota Vikings when the player himself said he did so when he was concussed? No matter what was said or not said, Griffin didn't go back in the game, which puts the Redskins one up on the Browns and Lions in the player safety department.
Is the NFL fighting a war against players playing with head injuries, or is it fighting a war against the appearance that it won't clamp down on that practice? Unless other teams are in the league's firing line, it sure looks as if this is a perception penalty -- and an example of the NFL throwing more heat at one team when there doesn't appear to be credible reason to do so.
Maybe Redskins owner Dan Snyder should talk to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson about how that feels.
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