The NFL regular season is officially underway, and it didn’t even take one full game for the league’s supposedly improved concussion protocol to be exposed as nothing more than a farce.
Only one hit was called for a penalty — a particularly egregious helmet-to-helmet slug in the final drive of the game — but that penalty was offset by an intentional grounding call against Newton. That means the Broncos received zero on-field punishments for their illegal hits, which is clearly problematic.
But far more disturbing is the fact that Newton was never taken off the field to be examined for a concussion during the game. And what could be even more disturbing than that? The NFL issued a statement on Friday morning saying the official protocol had been followed.
“During stoppage in play while on-field officials were in the process of administrating penalties, the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant and team physician requested video from the spotters and reviewed the play,” the NFL said. “They concluded there were no indications of a concussion that would require further evaluation and the removal of the player from the game.”
If protocol was actually followed in this situation, then the protocol itself is completely broken. It does not take an expert eye to see how shaken Newton was on the play, his 17th hit of the game and fourth hit to the head.