Questions Abound After NFL Player Reenters Game Moments After Shaking Uncontrollably

Football is an incredibly violent game. Absent removing tackling and collisions, it will remain that way for the foreseeable future. That said, there have been some strides made in making the game safer for players, and much of that stems from the continued advancements in the study of traumatic brain injuries. Many moons ago, concussions were dismissed as something that comes with the territory.

Increased awareness of the long-term effects of multiple concussions has led that nonsense thinking to go by the wayside. Each and every team is expected to be proactive when they suspect that a player has been concussed. In short, players are supposed to be prevented from reentering the game unless it’s crystal clear that they are not. While the system is far from perfect, it’s a clear demonstration that progress has been made on that front. However, there was a rather frightening sign from this weekend’s games that demonstrates that much more needs to be done.

As the Daily Mail shares, the Houston Texans quarterback was on the receiving end of a devastating hit during the second quarter of Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. As the game played out in real time, it was clear that Savage had been walloped, and slow-motion replays demonstrated just how bad it was. Savage was hit so hard that he started shaking uncontrollably, and he would hold his arms in a manner that has been described as a ‘fencing reflex.’

The science behind that reflex points to it being a clear sign of a concussion. Since there was so much evidence to suggest that Savage had been concussed, his day was clearly done, right? Nope. The signs were unfathomably missed, and he as actually allowed to reenter the game for a series. He was pulled soon thereafter and his day was done, but this is not a situation in which righting a wrong leads to warm and fuzzy feelings. A gigantic ball was dropped on the Texans sideline, and head coach Bill O’Brien addressed that fact during a press conference.

“Obviously, the spotter wanted him evaluated. We evaluated him. At that time, made the determination to put him, that he was – not me, obviously the evaluators made the determination to put him back in the game,” he said. “And then he went back in the game and he came out and they evaluated him a little bit more.”

While it’s certainly possible that the spotters didn’t get a glimpse of the replay of the hit on Savage - and the frightening aftermath - that only opens up more questions: why didn’t they? When you know that one of your players has been completely leveled, why are you not examining what happened from every possible angle before determining if that player is able to continue?

“They try to make the best decision for the player. Whatever they see and the testing that they do they try to make the best decision with the player and they weren't satisfied with the results of the second test so they decided to pull him, and that's when he went into the locker room,” O’Brien added. “I don't direct that. I don't direct that at all. They just come to me and that's kind of where that's at. I don't have anything to do with that. All I do is coach.”

That’s all fine, well, and good, but deflecting blame doesn’t take away from what happened. Savage was allowed to go back into the game when he clearly should have been done for the day. That alone should be a gigantic wake-up call for the league, as it's crystal clear that a whole lot more needs to be done on the concussion protocol front.

Source: Daily Mail
Photo: John Glaser/CSM

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