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The NFL has been criticized in the past for its handling of players dealing with concussions. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott became the latest player to draw the ire of football fans following his quick return from a rough hit Sunday.
The hit, in a loss to the Washington Redskins, occurred with roughly two minutes left in the first quarter. Prescott rolled to his left and started running near the sideline to pick up a first down. He dove headfirst at the first-down marker, and took a shot to the head.
There was no penalty on the hit.
Former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo — who was calling the game in the broadcast booth — immediately thought Prescott had a concussion.
As he was walking back onto the field, however, cameras caught him using smelling salts.
Dak, before taking the field pic.twitter.com/WHcUFuMxyC
— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) October 21, 2018
Some viewed that as an opportunity to criticize the NFL for allowing a player to return too soon. Others were less concerned, saying it’s something Prescott does all the time.
Dak Prescott said he was checked for a concussion and was cleared. His use of smelling salts had nothing to do with it. Does it all the time. Had his left hand checked out, said it’s fine
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 22, 2018
Even if that was the case here, Prescott’s timing could put the NFL in a tough spot. A player using smelling salts just after going through the league’s concussion protocol is not a good look.
Prescott finished the first half with 149 passing yards. He completed 12 of 15 passes. While his first half was strong, Prescott was involved in a crucial turnover in the fourth quarter. With 4:55 left to go, Prescott was sacked and fumbled. The ball was recovered by the Redskins in the end zone, giving the team a 20-10 lead. Prescott led the Cowboys to cut Washington’s lead to three with a rushing touchdown on the next drive. The Cowboys nearly tied the game at the last second, but kicker Brett Maher missed a field goal as time expired. The Cowboys lost the game 20-17.
Despite Prescott’s late heroics, everyone watching the game saw the smelling salt incident take place early in the game. Given that, the NFL could feel compelled to take a closer look at exactly what happened while Prescott was out.
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