September 13, 2010
Check out this video of Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Stewart Bradley(notes) suffering a concussion, and then you tell me if this looks like a man who should have been allowed back into a football game just minutes later.
When I saw Stewart come back in the game, I thought it was weird, but given the NFL's newfound commitment to fighting concussions, I guess I just assumed that everything was on the up-and-up. In 2010, there's a test a player has to pass before he can get back into a game. According to Andy Reid's postgame comments (made also in regard to Kevin Kolb(notes), who also suffered a concussion, and was also allowed back into the game), Stewart apparently passed that test.
"They were fine," coach Andy Reid said after the game. "All the questions that they answered and the things they did with the docs registered well. As it went on, they weren't feeling well so we took them out."
So here's my question: What exactly is that test? Do you just ask the guy if he wants to play football, and if he can manage to grunt, you can put him back in the game? If he can stumble to the sideline without suffering a cerebral brain hemorrhage, he's good to go? If you ask him his name, and he says something other than, "WHEN I EAT PASTE, GRANDMA SLAPS ME ON THE BELLY," then he's declared fit for game action?
Either we need a new test, or the Eagles aren't administering or taking this thing seriously. Granted, my own hindsight is 20/20 here, but looking at that, it seems pretty clear that Bradley should've been done for the day. The Eagles are taking a beating for it in the media Monday, too.
“The NFL is really taking this seriously!! … What a joke!! That hit Bradley took was bad & he had a major concussion! Every hit he took after that could have been a death blow & any neurologist would say the same. That is a [expletive] outrage that he was allowed back in the game! … If the NFL is serious about fixing this they should fine the Eagles big time for not following the guidelines of dealing with a concussion & that clearly was a bad one. If I can sit on my couch & see it, those doctors don’t deserve to be on the sidelines!”
And here's orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. Johnny Benjamin, via the Huffington Post:
The first rule of proper concussion management is: If a concussion is even suspected, the player is not allowed to return to participation. Their day is over. Allowing a concussed player to return to the same game and potentially receive another blow to the head is like playing Russian roulette. It is literally putting their health and life in significant danger.
And that is exactly what played out on national television.
So yeah, there are legitimate questions to be asked of the Eagles here, and if the answers aren't good enough, someone needs to be held accountable. I'm thinking serious, lengthy suspensions for coaches, to accompany big-time fines.
Under the best of circumstances, NFL football is a violent sport that's not going to do your head any long-term favors. When things are handled haphazardly, there are potential outcomes I don't even want to think about.
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