For years, I've written about the dangers of concussions in sports, especially football. I was encouraged with the NFL's significant change of course with respect to their appreciation and policies regarding brain injury, concussion prevention and management. But if no official action is taken regarding the flagrant disregard for player safety and improper concussion management that was displayed during the televised second quarter of the Green Bay Packers vs. Philadelphia Eagles game, oversight from an outside body (potentially Congress) must be implemented.
Late in the second quarter of a hard-hitting game, Philadelphia middle linebacker #55 Stewart Bradley suffered a significant blow to the head while attempting to make a flying tackle. Bradley while in headlong flight missed the ball carrier and struck a teammate in the hip with his helmet. He immediately fell limply to the ground, laid on the turf face down for a few moments then struggled to his feet. He staggered for a few steps and then collapsed in a heap. The medical staff quickly rushed to his aid and helped him off the field.
The FOX team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, who ironically had his Hall-of-Fame caliber career shortened by a series of concussions, commented that with the new league-wide emphasis on head injuries and concussions that Stewart Bradley's day was surely over. We watched the requisite replays and Bradley sit woozy on the bench while being evaluated by the Eagles' medical staff.
The nation had just witnessed a serious and textbook concussion in real time.
Then just a few plays later, the very believable, medically inappropriate, and incredibly shameful happened. Stewart Bradley was allowed to return to the game... concussed and all.
The first rule of proper concussion management is: If a concussion is even suspected, the player is not allowed to return to participation. Their day is over. Allowing a concussed player to return to the same game and potentially receive another blow to the head is like playing Russian roulette. It is literally putting their health and life in significant danger.
And that is exactly what played out on national television.
Fortunately, at half time the proper medical decision was made and Stewart Bradley was removed from the game.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is aggressive when it comes to player conduct. Will he have the same level of commitment with regards to player safety? Will he reprimand the Eagles' medical staff for their sub-standard care?
Will NFLPA Executive Director, DeMaurice Smith, demand that his members (NFL players) are adequately protected by enforcing and utilizing proper concussion management protocols?
Or will they allow the Russian roulette to continue until the unthinkable and entirely preventable happens?