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Post-Tua injury ... revamped concussion protocol needed in the NFL? (1 Viewer)

Doug B

Footballguy
Below, I am posting several messages from the main Tua Tagavailoa player thread to avoid completely hijacking it. Thought it would be good to start a new thread and bring the concussion-protocol discussion over here:

Doug B wrote (consider this the OP):

Just thinking out loud here ...

This might be a dumb idea, but could there be something like a "Looked bad on TV" rule? Basically, someone completely unaffiliated with the teams and the league would make judgment calls on "probable concussion?" from afar, using strictly the TV coverage. Not too different from what us fans do on Twitter -- though hopefully, people with credentials like those of Dr. David Chao (for example) would be employed.

One potentially tricky part is that the people doing these judgments would have to be volunteers -- they could not have a financial relationship with the league or individual teams. Maybe it would be kind of a non-profit that could perform this service for multiple pro sports leagues, college football, etc. It would be completely electronic-information based. You wouldn't need a "concussion reviewer" at each stadium, arena, or rink. What you would need is a system -- unofficial or official -- of getting footage of a bad-looking head hit over to a remote concussion reviewer. Twitter reacts to probable concussions in near-real time -- surely 2022's information technology can be harnessed into a more formal framework?



ignatiusjreilly wrote:

Isn't that what the current "spotter" system is?



Doug B wrote:

Two main differences:

1) The current spotters are actually at the stadiums.
2) The current spotters don't themselves make the "sit 'em" calls -- their role is limited to alerting team physicians on the sidelines to a potential head injury.

What I'm conceiving of basically takes team physicians and sideline staff out of the equation. No taking/passing sideline concussion tests. No mystery visits to the medical tent. None of that.

That's why I call it the "looked bad on TV" rule. If the league really, really, REALLY wants concussion issues curtailed, there will have to be some overcorrection -- that is, sitting the occasional player who had a bad head hit but (somehow) did not get concussed.

EDIT: Thinking about this some, ignatius ... in a formal system and especially in professional sports, you would still want spotters at the stadium. However, their role would be different -- they wouldn't be there to tag the team physicians when they see something. They would be there to upload footage** to the wider remote network of observers nationwide (or even worldwide -- who's to say a neurologist in Australia can't make a call on someone on an NFL game?).

** - which could be 99% automated so that a non-techie spotter could just press a button to upload the last 60 seconds of game footage or whatever.



SwampDawg wrote:

I thought the doctors doing the evaluations were independent, not just the "spotters". If that isn't correct then that is the easy answer. The NFL has an independent doctor assigned to each game to evaluate head injuries. Their decision is final, no input from the team, player or team medical staff.



zamboni wrote:

In a perfect world, that's probably the case. But the reality is I'm sure teams have some influence on the process. And most football players are wired to get out there and play as long as they are permitted to - they don't want to disappoint their teammates or themselves. It's probably not the way things should be, but it's the reality.



Doug B wrote:

Going by the informative link ignatius provided, it seems unclear whether or not the evaluator for a given injury is independent of the team -- looks like a sometimes-yes-sometimes-no thing:

Using the injury video review system’s monitor and recording equipment to monitor, the ATC spotter watches and reviews network footage of the game. If the ATC spotter observes a play that may have resulted in a concussion or injury on the field, he or she will call that team’s bench area to speak with a credentialed team physician or the head athletic trainer to relay the details of the potential injury he or she observed. The spotter will confirm the player’s jersey number and the situation in which the injury may have occurred.

The ATC spotter must speak directly to the team physician, unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant, or head athletic trainer when reviewing a potential injury. They cannot relay the information to other team staff assigned to answer the bench phones.

Additionally -- I would question whether or not someone standing on a team's sideline throughout a game (even someone not in pay of the league or team) can 100% of the time reliably maintain independence. Not talking about someone "cheating" for the team -- thinking more about getting caught in the moment, believing a concussed player's pleadings that he's really OK, leaning the wrong way on a borderline call, etc.



SwampDawg wrote:

There are only 16 games a week, the refs are mostly lawyers, doctors, etc that they fly around the country to do games. You can't tell me they can't find 16 head specialist and fly one into each game. This very much reminds me in racing IndyCar, NHRA and F1 all have their own safety teams that include doctors, EMT's, fire fighters, equipment, etc that they transport and take to each race and respond to all accidents and need to clear drivers. Nascar for years fought that and used local EMT's and doctors becasue they "understood" each track better. The real reason was cost and they didn't want the liability.
 

Doug B

Footballguy
From the Tua player thread:

ignatiusjreilly wrote:

During last night's postgame, Fitzpatrick told a story about a game where he felt fine but the spotter saw something from the stands and he was pulled out and taken into the blue tent.
 

Doug B

Footballguy
ignatiusjreilly wrote:

During last night's postgame, Fitzpatrick told a story about a game where he felt fine but the spotter saw something from the stands and he was pulled out and taken into the blue tent.
That's what I was getting at when I wrote "overcorrection" above. If concussion issues really have to be minimized at virtually all costs ... it will probably have to become accepted that, very occasionally, unhurt players will get pulled from a game and be summarily placed in the concussion protocol.

Fair or unfair? Too high a price to stamp out concussion issues? Those things are at the crux of the debate.
 

ignatiusjreilly

Footballguy
ignatiusjreilly wrote:

During last night's postgame, Fitzpatrick told a story about a game where he felt fine but the spotter saw something from the stands and he was pulled out and taken into the blue tent.
That's what I was getting at when I wrote "overcorrection" above. If concussion issues really have to be minimized at virtually all costs ... it will probably have to become accepted that, very occasionally, unhurt players will get pulled from a game and be summarily placed in the concussion protocol.

Fair or unfair? Too high a price to stamp out concussion issues? Those things are at the crux of the debate.
I think responding to this entirely through a PR lens is a) probably not the optimal approach and b) definitely what the Goodell-led NFL will do. But I agree that it is probably better to err on the side of caution.

But man, imagine what happens when KC is trailing in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, and just as they get the ball back for a potential game-winning drive, Mahomes gets pulled off the field over what turns out to be nothing.
 

Doug B

Footballguy
But man, imagine what happens when KC is trailing in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, and just as they get the ball back for a potential game-winning drive, Mahomes gets pulled off the field over what turns out to be nothing.

Yeah, I can imagine the uproar.

Maybe not a perfect analogy, but it reminds me of thinking about this: Imagine a Super Bowl being decided on a 50-50 instant replay call. Last play of the game, no other recourse for the squads other than what the replay ref sees and decides.

One obvious difference in the analogy is that bad-looking head hits are more common in the course of football than last-second 50-50 scoring reviews.
 

Hot Sauce Guy

Footballguy
2 things seem pretty clear to me:
1. Tua was concussed in week 3. He got up, staggered, and was obviously woozy. He looked drunk. People with concussions lose motor skills and have similar appearance to inebriated people. People with back & leg injuries most typically stay on the ground. Especially a back injury bad enough to knock them out of a game. Adding to the implausibility of week 3's injury being "back", as someone who's had back injuries, let me list for you all the times I wanted to run out and play sports 4 days after injuring my back so badly that it caused me to cease all activity that day:
  • -
Never. Because people who hurt their back so badly that it knocks them out of a game rarely play 4 days later. It's the nature of the injury. He didn't just tweak his back, allegedly. I do not believe for a second that this was a back injury.

2. That he suffered a significant concussion on TNF is pretty obvious - if determined that week 3 was a concussion (and I believe medical professionals have weighed in on this with a resounding affirmation) then the MIA training staff should be fired, if not prosecuted for malpractice.

As a post-script, I'll say I'm glad Tua was released last night, but that too seemed unwise. I feel for the young man, and hope that this doesn't impact his career. His season would certainly be considered "in jeopardy" if he had 2 concussions in a 5 day span. But since the Dolphins are still calling week 3 a "back injury", he might just be cleared to play next week. Which could result in a truly catastrophic scenario where he is once again sacked with helmet bouncing off of the ground. Which, after 2 quick concussions already, could be life-threatening. Not that this is the important part, but it would be a disaster for the NFL.

This is a fascinating situation to see unfold, and truly seems to put to lie the NFL's alleged player safety emphasis.

It was hard to watch that last night. I never want to see a player laid out like that. I know it's part of the sport, but again, in context of week 3, it was the worst case scenario come to pass, and it raised a lot of questions.
 
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Rubi

Footballguy
It was hard to watch that last night. I never want to see a player laid out like that. I know it's part of the sport, but again, in context of week 3, it was the worst case scenario come to pass, and it raised a lot of questions.(y)
 

Gr00vus

Footballguy
Somewhat tangentially, it seems like Thursday games aren't such a good idea (unless a team is coming off a bye preceding the Thursday game). 3 days recovery time isn't enough. I guess the captive t.v. audience on Thursday night is just generating too much money to go back to how things were.
 

Insein

Footballguy
Somewhat tangentially, it seems like Thursday games aren't such a good idea (unless a team is coming off a bye preceding the Thursday game). 3 days recovery time isn't enough. I guess the captive t.v. audience on Thursday night is just generating too much money to go back to how things were.
That ship has sailed. Amazon just paid $1b with a B for the 16 games on Thursday night. NFL is not going to stop that gravy train.
 

Doug B

Footballguy
That ship has sailed. Amazon just paid $1b with a B for the 16 games on Thursday night. NFL is not going to stop that gravy train.
This is true, but the bye weeks can be worked in. Go with a 19-week regular season with two bye weeks per team:

WK 1 - 2 teams (play Thurs night game of week 2)
WK 2 - 4 teams (two of these play Thurs night game of week 3)
WK 3 - 4 teams (two of these play Thurs night game of week 4)
WK 4 - 4 teams (two of these play Thurs night game of week 5)
WK 5 - 4 teams (two of these play Thurs night game of week 6)
WK 6 - 4 teams (two of these play Thurs night game of week 7)
WK 7 - 4 teams (two of these play Thurs night game of week 8)
WK 8 - 4 teams (two of these play Thurs night game of week 9)
WK 9 - 2 teams (two of these play Thurs night game of week 10)
WK 10 - 2 teams (play Thurs night game of week 11)
WK 11 - 4 teams (two of these play Thurs night game of week 12)
WK 12 - 6 teams (the six teams playing Thanksgiving, wk 13)
WK 13 - 4 teams (two of these play Thurs night game of week 14)
WK 14 - 2 teams (play Thurs night game of week 15)
WK 15 - 4 teams (two of these play Thurs night game of week 16)
WK 16 - 4 teams (two of these play Thurs night game of week 17)
WK 17 - 4 teams (two of these play Thurs night game of week 18)
WK 18 - 2 teams (play Thurs night game of week 19)
WK 19 - none
 

Hot Sauce Guy

Footballguy
It was hard to watch that last night. I never want to see a player laid out like that. I know it's part of the sport, but again, in context of week 3, it was the worst case scenario come to pass, and it raised a lot of questions.(y)
Did….did you just plagiarize this from my post directly above it? :oldunsure:
 

⚡DEADHEAD⚡

Footballguy
I will never be able to unsee this. And it just reaffirms our decision to keep our son out of football.

For the NFL, this is existential. I'm not sure how much more NFL I got in me as long as the concussion injuries remain a problem.

Perhaps the greatest issue, we are far more likely, IMO, to know more about brain injuries to active players (not post-mortem) as technology evolves than we are to develop mitigating technology. And presuming some transparency about player health in real time, I think the appetite for the game will likely decline.

Last night was awful. I feel it in my stomach.
 

ChiefD

Footballguy
It was hard to watch that last night. I never want to see a player laid out like that. I know it's part of the sport, but again, in context of week 3, it was the worst case scenario come to pass, and it raised a lot of questions.(y)
Did….did you just plagiarize this from my post directly above it? :oldunsure:
If I had to guess, he/she was maybe trying to quote your post and give you a thumbs up for it.
 

Hot Sauce Guy

Footballguy
It was hard to watch that last night. I never want to see a player laid out like that. I know it's part of the sport, but again, in context of week 3, it was the worst case scenario come to pass, and it raised a lot of questions.(y)
Did….did you just plagiarize this from my post directly above it? :oldunsure:
If I had to guess, he/she was maybe trying to quote your post and give you a thumbs up for it.
Ah - yes, that would make more sense. lol
 

Doug B

Footballguy
For the NFL, this is existential. I'm not sure how much more NFL I got in me as long as the concussion injuries remain a problem.

Perhaps the greatest issue, we are far more likely, IMO, to know more about brain injuries to active players (not post-mortem) as technology evolves than we are to develop mitigating technology. And presuming some transparency about player health in real time, I think the appetite for the game will likely decline.
I sometimes wonder how much violence and risk can be removed from tackle football before it loses appeal as a spectator sport. For instance, could there be a rule that QBs can't be brought to the ground? That a simple in-the-grasp (even an ankle or shoe grab, a stretched-jersey grab, etc.) would be called a sack?
 

TripleThreat

Footballguy

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said he is very familiar with concussionlike symptoms and that head injuries are an inherent cost of playing football.

In his weekly podcast appearance, Burrow said he hasn't had any long-term issues from concussions but conceded that he has likely suffered at least one during his career and has even forgotten entire chunks of a game before.

"I've had some where I don't remember the second half or I don't remember the entire game or I know I got a little dizzy at one point," Burrow told "The Colin Cowherd Podcast." "But nothing long-lasting."
 

growlers

Footballguy
FYI there is actually 3 people in the spotter booth looking at every play immediately, 2 ATC spotters and one booth UNC. I wouldn't add any more personnel. It's difficult enough to be able to have time to look at footage, discuss it, and potentially call down to the field in time before the next play, it'll be even harder with more people involved in the booth
 

Doug B

Footballguy
FYI there is actually 3 people in the spotter booth looking at every play immediately, 2 ATC spotters and one booth UNC. I wouldn't add any more personnel. It's difficult enough to be able to have time to look at footage, discuss it, and potentially call down to the field in time before the next play, it'll be even harder with more people involved in the booth
The simplest way I can explain it is:

1) Get footage of any head hit on Twitter (or similar) ASAP. This essentially already happens without a formal process, but for this it should be formalized. The ATC spotters could be re-tasked to upload footage (essentially automated to a button push) as opposed to communicating with on-field medical staff. Keep in mind that I'm conceiving of replacing current concussion protocols, not supplementing them.

2) Volunteer neuros and other experts worldwide have a look at the footage and weigh in. No reason it has to be American specialists -- anybody anywhere with the expertise and the yen to volunteer an hour or two each week to the cause is welcome. In some ways, having non-football-savvy international specialists weighing in could be an advantage (e.g. no rooting interests). North American specialists could return the favor for Gaelic sports, Australian rules, rugby, European ice hockey, muay thai, sumo, etc.

3) A critical mass of experts (the crowdsource) expresses overwhelming concern about the head hit they saw? Thinks the player needs to be summarily benched? No neuro tests on the field. No concussion questions. No at-the-stadium protocol. The online house says "Sit 'em", the player sits. Sort out the specifics later.
 
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