For those watching Thursday night’s AFC North matchup between the Steelers and Browns on television, it was clear that Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy was not all there after he was drilled in the facemask by Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison.
But the Browns medical and coaching staff did not see the replays, did not realize how violently their quarterback had been hit and, as a result, did not administer a concussion test. Instead, they let McCoy back onto the field.
On Wednesday, Browns president Mike Holmgren addressed the situation during an hour-long press conference, explaining what his staff saw from their quarterback and why they did not suspect he could be concussed.
But in the wake of a Tuesday meeting between NFL and players association representatives and the Browns, could the handling of McCoy’s concussion drastically alter the way the league treats in-game head injuries?
On Tuesday, Browns coach Pat Shurmur insisted the team had “followed all the proper medical procedures,” during McCoy’s two-play absence from the field against the Steelers.
And despite admitting that those procedures did not include a SCAT test, Holmgren stood by his coach during Wednesday’s press conference.
“I’m not going to second-guess Pat,” Holmgren said. “Pat’s in the front lines. He’s got to make the decision. (As a coach) if I feel the quarterback’s good to go, then he’s back in the game. That’s his call.”
McCoy’s father, Brad, for one, would disagree with that assessment. Last week he scolded the team for putting his son back onto the field, saying, “He never should have gone back in the game. He was basically out after the hit.”
McCoy was sent home from practice again on Wednesday for “a headache,” according to Holmgren. The Browns do not expect punishment from the league for their handling of McCoy’s concussion, but the fallout from this latest incident of a concussed player being allowed back into a game could accelerate changes on sidelines league-wide.
Browns linebacker Scott Fujita joined the growing call for independent neurologists on the sidelines to provide unbiased evaluations that could prevent teams from letting potentially-concussed players re-enter a game.
Were the Browns wrong to let McCoy back into the game? Will Cleveland’s missteps with McCoy be the catalyst for change? Does the NFL need independent neurologists on its sidelines, or is that going too far? What do you think?
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