The NFL has two spotters in the press box at every game watching for players who might display concussion symptoms, and there are independent neurologists on both sidelines to test guys and put them into the game-day concussion protocol, if necessary.
But when Tyrod Taylor took a big hit in the third quarter of the game between the Bills and Jets last Thursday, it was Ed Hochuli, the referee, who stopped the game and walked Taylor to the sideline to get checked out – and he absolutely did the right thing.
We were watching the game at the studio, and when Taylor got hit, I remember saying, “He’s knocked out,” and for a moment he just kind of rolled over and was not really moving. Unfortunately, I’ve been in that situation, and I’ve seen guys in that situation. Whatever happened after that, I’m not going to speculate. But I’ve seen that before, and for the official to step in and say, “Let’s get him off the field,” it’s going to be better for Tyrod that he gets checked out even if he was upset about it.
It’s interesting that the official got involved, but I think a lot of it came from the NFL and from what happened to Cam Newton the week before, when he took several hits to the helmet. There were people saying he should have been checked for a concussion. Maybe he was after the game. Maybe he wasn’t. Did they handle this correctly? The league is going to make sure everyone gets it right the next time.
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They want guys to be safe. They don’t want anything to look bad as far as player safety – not just because they don’t want to look bad, but because it’s bad for everyone.
I think that’s why that happened. I think that’s why Ed took Tyrod out of the game, honestly, because of what happened the previous week with Cam and what happened also with (Rams quarterback) Case Keenum last year. Case was thrown backward, hit the back of his head on the turf and clearly wasn’t right, and he wasn’t taken out of the game. It’s a point of emphasis, and they’re looking at it very closely. Whether it’s right or wrong, the officials are going to step in and do something.
If left to our own as players, we’re not going to tell you we’re hurt. We’re not going to tell you we have a concussion. Maybe it’s a pride thing. Maybe it’s a macho thing. Whatever it is, guys aren’t going to tap out. The hard part with a concussion, it’s not like a knee or a shoulder injury where you just can’t go. With a concussion, you could just have a headache. You just tough it out and there’s really no one to call you out. You’re not limping. It’s hard to diagnose. Interior linemen are the ones I get concerned about. My friends who are offensive linemen, I just remember the stories in the huddle. They’ve got headaches or they’re seeing stars and they’re never checked out.
There are going to be questions about whether a player should be taken out of the game and whether it’s the spotter or an official. But I applaud the NFL for what it’s trying to do. It’s trying to make this game as safe as it can. Football is a violent game, and the players are some of the most ridiculous, just amazing athletes you’ll ever see. The collisions are like train wrecks. It’s such a violent sport and they’re trying to do as much as they can to keep these guys safe.
There are going to be mistakes – they’re humans; they’re going to miss some things. Sometimes people are going to give you a hard time if you err on the side of safety because of the nature of the sport. It’s a tough battle, but I think it’s one that has to be fought.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
From Connie Loera: With my 7-year-old nephew loving football and you as well, what advice will you give your children regarding teamwork?
That’s a great question. Unfortunately, in our culture today, it’s all about the individual, even in team sports. You can see it in commercials now and how sports are marketed. Not to call anyone out, but I saw a commercial the other day that was talking about being an individual and doing your own thing and being creative on the football field. It was just bad. The culture around us is just not what it used to be, and it’s unfortunate. Football is one of the last hopes, really, because it’s the ultimate team sport.
(Former Giants coach) Tom Coughlin used to say all the time, “It’s the greatest team sport that has ever been invented, because 10 people can run a play right and if one person messes up, the play is a disaster.” You’re accountable to everyone on the field. You ask that they give their best on every down. They have your professional life in their hands, and you have their professional life in your hands. It’s a unique deal and there are great lessons in there.
I know for me, growing up and moving from Bakersfield to Fresno and back and forth, as soon as I joined a football team I instantly had friends. I instantly had 60 buddies I could hang out with at lunch and I could have something in common with almost immediately. That team aspect is something that is so valuable in life. That’s why I love the game; that’s why America loves it, because there’s something real to it. There’s a collective bond you share when you play a team sport that you just can’t get in any other aspect in life. It’s good stuff.
David Carr is a former Fresno State quarterback, NFL No. 1 draft pick and Super Bowl champion. Now he’s an analyst for the NFL Network and writing a weekly column in collaboration with The Bee’s Robert Kuwada. The column is sponsored by Valley Children’s Hospital.
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