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The Early Lead
Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 12/14/2011

Colt McCoy’s coach, Pat Shurmur, defends putting concussed QB back in game after James Harrison hit


It turns out Colt McCoy was not tested for concussion symptoms after James Harrison’s helmet-to-helmet hit. (Don Wright - AP)

UPDATE (12:45 p.m.): Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren told reporters on Wednesday that quarterback Colt McCoy was not checked for a concussion during the two plays he spent on the sideline after a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit from Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison last week.

The news comes one day after Browns coach Pat Shurmur insisted the team had “followed all the proper medical procedures” when tending to their second-year quarterback.

When asked why the team did not administer a SCAT test following the hit, Holmgren said of the team’s medical staff (via Tony Grassi of the Plain Dealer): “Their reaction to the way Colt was acting did not dictate that. They did not see the play. ...

“If you see the hit, you’d say, ‘Goodness gracious.’ But they didn’t see the hit.”

Holmgren said he did not expect the team to face punishment from the NFL.

ORIGINAL POST (10:45 a.m.)

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison was handed a one-game suspension for last Thursday’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy on Tuesday. But now the microscope is on the Browns as the NFL investigates the team’s decision to put their concussed quarterback back into the game only two players later.

Last week Colt McCoy’s father, Brad McCoy, lashed out against the Browns for re-inserting his son into the game after the hit.

“He never should have gone back in the game,” McCoy said. “He was basically out after the hit. You could tell by the rigidity of his body as he was laying there.”

On Tuesday, NFL and players association representatives met with the team to discuss Cleveland’s handling of its quarterback.

“We followed all the proper medical procedures,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “(There are) sideline procedures to determine whether the man can play. We followed them and I think that’s what’s important.”

According to Shurmur, McCoy was treated for an injury to his left after absorbing a vicious hit to the facemask from Harrison, after which “he was communicated with about how he was feeling. He was deemed ready to play.”

Shurmur did not say whether the team administered the standard SCAT2 test, and ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Sunday that a union source told him there was “blatant system failure” in the team’s handling of the situation.

An examination on Friday morning revealed McCoy did in fact have a concussion. He was sent home from the team facility on Monday and and again on Wednesday with what team president Mike Holmgren called “a headache.”

Concussions are rampant league-wide, and stricter protocol for treatment is forcing teams to better understand how to protect their players from repeat occurrences and long-term damage.

Cleveland has been hit especially hard by concussions this season. Tight end Ben Watson has suffered three, fullback Owen Marecic has had two and Mohamed Massaquoi, Evan Moore, Scott Fujita and now McCoy have all had one.

“There are league-wide problems in procedure, and that’s what needs to be addressed,” Fujita said in an e-mail interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “You can’t point your finger at any one thing. It’s the process. We need to continue to strive to find better ways to take care of our players, and I think an independent neurologist on game-days is something that should be seriously considered.”

But teammate Sheldon Brown’s counter to that argument remains a prevalent view among NFL players and teams — and one that could continue to hamper the precautionary treatment concussion victims receive during and after games.

“As a competitor and as an athlete, if I can go and a trainer tells me I can’t go, that trainer has a problem with me after the game,” Brown told the Plain Dealer. “If somebody’s holding me out and I know I can play and help the team and at the end of the day some jerk trying to save his butt, knows protocol but doesn’t know me as an individual or my pain tolerance or my threshold, it’s not fair for him to hold me out.”

More from Washington Post Sports:

Early Lead: James Harrison suspended one game for hit on McCoy

NFL meets with Browns to discuss handling of McCoy’s concussion

Early Lead: McCoy’s father rips Browns for handling of concussion

James Harrison doesn’t believe he should be suspended for hit

The NFL’s review process for on-the-field violations

Early Lead: James Harrison calls Roger Goodell “devil,” “dictator”

By  |  10:45 AM ET, 12/14/2011

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