NFL’s Concussion Protocols Come Under Scrutiny Again

Source: washingtonpost.com | Re-Post Duerson Fund 11/20/2017 – 

Six years later, Colt McCoy cannot remember going back into the game, or what happened after he did. In December 2011, McCoy, playing quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, rolled to his left. Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison launched his helmet into McCoy’s face mask, leaving McCoy flattened on the turf and concussed. On the sideline, doctors inspected his bruised hand. After two plays, coaches sent him back in.

When he watched the film a week later, McCoy felt like he was watching another person. He made throws and decisions disconnected to the play he called in the huddle. I don’t know what I’m doing, he thought as he watched himself. It would be six weeks before he felt normal again before lights stopped hurting his head.

“You certainly don’t want that to happen,” McCoy said. “But because of that, there’s even more enhanced protocol. Guys are taking it a bit more serious.”

The hit McCoy absorbed, the brain injury he suffered and the aftermath became a touchstone in the NFL’s concussion crisis. Perhaps more than any play, it changed how the league approached in-game concussions, leading to a series of policy and rules changes that continue to evolve.

The NFL has improved its practices for handling concussions, and players have grown more aware of the signs and dangers. But as this week illustrated, the NFL is still grappling with how to diagnose concussions and protect players during games, in the fury of competition. Even after efforts to improve the process and a public-relations push to convince fans the game is safer, several high-profile cases have revealed imperfections in the NFL’s concussion protocol, either inherent complications or failures in implementation.

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