During last night’s game against the Cardinals, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson took a direct shot to the jaw that left most reasonable observers thinking he would need to be evaluated for a brain injury:
Wilson stayed down after the hit, prompting one of the referees to send him to the sideline to get checked out. Wilson left the field for one play, and then re-entered the game after very briefly entering the blue medical tent.
This is not how it’s supposed to work. The NFL’s concussion protocol states that a player suspected of having a brain injury cannot go back into the game until he has been evaluated and cleared by a team physician and an independent neurological consultant. Clearly neither of those things happened with Wilson, as he was in the tent for maybe three seconds.
Two plays later, the Seahawks lost possession and Wilson returned to the medical tent, at which point, he says, he was evaluated and cleared (via ESPN):
I think Walt did a great job first of all. He made the smartest decision. I was fine, though, 100 percent fine. And then they finally went over through the whole concussion stuff and all that. We went through every question you could imagine, and I answered even some more for them just so they knew I was good, and then went back in there.
The NFL’s concussion protocol is a mess, and this is just the latest example of the league’s ongoing failure to enforce it. The referees and spotters seem to have done their jobs this time, but there is nothing much they can do if a team and/or player decide to bully their way past the rules.