If after a shock a player is affected, he will henceforth be prohibited from returning to a match, whatever the reason.
The American Football Players Union (NFLPA) announced on Friday that it had adopted changes to the rules of the protocol relating to concussions, hoping that they can be applied immediately, the League (NFL) showing itself in favor without however commit to a schedule.
The essential modification concerns the gross motor instability factor, which can be a sign of concussion. If after a shock a player is affected, he will henceforth be prohibited from returning to a match, whatever the reason.
Until now, a player could only resume the match if the team doctor, in consultation with an independent neurotrauma expert, determined that the instability in question was of neurological origin. This left a loophole to return, if an injury of another nature was found.
This is what happened with the quarterback of the Dolphins Tua Tagovailoa, victim on September 25 of a violent tackle by a defender of the Buffalo Bills. He got up, but had trouble staying upright. Taken to the locker room, he had undergone the concussion protocol, carried out by a doctor from his team with one of these experts, who had established that his motor instability resulted from an injury to the back and not to the head.
He had returned to the field and had even guided his team to victory. But four days later, he suffered another shock against the Cincinnati Bengals, after which he did not recover. He had to be taken to the hospital, where a concussion had been diagnosed. He has not been allowed to play again since.
This succession of incidents led the NFL and the players’ union to investigate whether the protocol had been respected during the first game against Buffalo, which he had therefore been able to finish.
Without the conclusions having yet been made public, the media have already reported that the expert in neurotraumatology had been dismissed by the two authorities, which employ these specialists present in number of three at each match played.
“We would like these protocol changes to take effect prior to this weekend’s games to immediately protect players,” the NFLPA said.
If the NFL said it “agreed” for their implementation, there is no indication that it will ratify it in such a short time, because a first match of this day has already been played Thursday evening between Indianapolis and Denver.
However, the League could consider that all the teams are in the same boat at the same time.