Alex Smith was rocked with a blow to the head Sunday and was forced to leave the game. He came back into the game after being cleared by an independent neurologist per the league’s concussion protocol only to take another shot later on and later be diagnosed with a concussion.
The honest truth is that he had no business coming back into the game after the first hit, which is at the heart of a movement being pushed by John Madden and Tom Coughlin, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, to ensure players suspected of a concussion aren’t allowed back into games.
“Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Hall of Fame Raiders coach John Madden and former Jaguars and Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who currently works for the NFL, have been pushing for players suspected of having concussions to be shut down for the rest of the game, regardless of whether he is diagnosed immediately with a concussion.”
Smith is not hardly the first guy to suffer what appeared to be clear signs of being disoriented after being hit, only to find his way back into the game later on. We saw Cam Newton take multiple blows to the head that appeared to leave him a bit dazed in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos only to remain in the game.
While there are potential pitfalls to adopting a no-grey-area rule that prohibits players suspected of having been concussed from returning, it seems like this is the only responsible response to the NFL’s concussion problem.
Florio mentioned an unintended consequence could be that players start trying to make opponents woozy to just get them out of the game. But that sounds a whole heck of a lot like a bounty system. He also mentions that the league might not want to adopt this philosophy because it would potentially mess with the entertainment value of games.
But right now, it appears a large portion of the NFL’s fan base is more upset with how the league seems to have no moral compass than it does about the games not being as gloriously entertaining as they could be.
In such a violent sport, players must be given the best chance possible to retain good health. Adopting a concussion policy that protects players from hurting themselves further after a potential concussion is something that really must happen. Otherwise, all the talk about player safety is nothing but hot air.