According to this article on Yahoo, the NFL and the NFL Players Association have opened an investigation into whether the Carolina Panthers violated the concussion protocol for quarterback Cam Newton on Sunday.
This armchair pundit can tell you in watching the replay, Mr. Newton took a pretty solid hit to the head. Thereafter, in walking towards the sideline he fell to his knees. According to Yahoo, Cam Newton only missed one play. You may have wondered, as I did, what is the NFL’s concussion protocol. For that I turned to SBNation.com where they lay out the protocol as follows:
- When a potential concussion is identified the player shall be removed immediately from the field.
- The NFL team physician and the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC) will:
- Review the video of the play
- Perform a focused neurological examination
- Madden Rule: If there is suspicion of a concussion, the player will be escorted to the locker room for a full assessment
- If the player is diagnosed with a concussion, there is NO same-day return to play
- If the player passes the exam, he will be monitored for systems throughout the game.
As we witnessed on Sunday, Cam Newton was only ushered to the blue medical tent and then back to the bench. We have to assume the team physician and the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant did their due diligence to protect him from further harm. Mr. Newton claimed after the game there was a problem with his eye rather than a head injury. I’m of the mind that the human eye is a part of the head and further examination may be necessary. Then again, I am only playing a doctor in this piece.
Why am I concerned about this protocol and the possible failure to adhere to it? In the last 8 years I have seen the reports and talked to the expert witnesses who testify about traumatic brain injury and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The real doctors take it very seriously. The damage from CTE is immense and life altering.
I can tell you from my personal experience, the number of doctors specializing in TBI and CTE has at least doubled (probably tripled) in my time at Experts.com. They come in a wide range of medical specialties:
- Neurocritical / Neurointensive Care
My concern is the medical professionals do what is right for Cam Newton, even if he is only interested in getting back to the game.
With all this said, I want to invite a couple of my friends, both lawyers and former college football players, to respond on this topic in their own time and on their own blogs.
UPDATE: January 12, 2018
We asked for input from the lawyers mentioned above. We have received both of their responses in blog posts!
From Morris Lilienthal – Protecting Players: Following Concussion Protocol is a Must.
From Bernard Nomberg – Big Hit on Cam Newton Calls into Question NFL Concussion Protocol.