Redskins fined $20,000 for Robert Griffin III concussion announcement

October 19, 2012

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III suffered a concussion on this play against Atlanta Oct. 7.

The NFL fined the Washington Redskins $20,000 for the manner in which they announced information about the concussion suffered by rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III during a game earlier this month against the Atlanta Falcons.

League rules require teams to release timely and accurate injury information during games. The NFL found that the Redskins failed to comply.

The Redskins announced after Griffin was hurt that he’d been “shaken up” and his return to the game was questionable. The team provided no further update during the game. Coach Mike Shanahan said during his postgame news conference that Griffin had suffered a concussion.

Team officials later defended their handling of the matter, saying their announcement about Griffin being shaken up came before it was officially determined he had suffered a concussion. But Shanahan conceded that the team could have issued a follow-up announcement sooner about Griffin’s playing status and said the Redskins would do their best in the future to use different language when describing a head injury.

But the NFL said in a written statement that “team medical staff confirmed a diagnosis of concussion with ’2-3 minutes’ left in the game. Since that diagnosis ruled Griffin out while the game was in still in  progress, at that point the team should have updated Griffin’s status for the televising network and news media from ‘questionable’ to ‘out with a concussion,’ especially since it involved a starting quarterback in a close game that could have gone into overtime.”

Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie said that “we don’t agree with the league’s decision and we plan to appeal.”

Officials with the league and the NFL Players Association said previously that the Redskins followed all medical procedures properly when Griffin was injured in the third quarter of an Oct. 7 loss to the Falcons at FedEx Field. Griffin, who was hurt when he absorbed a hit to the head while running with the ball, was examined by members of the team’s medical staff and was removed from the game after it was determined that he’d suffered a concussion.

But the manner in which the Redskins released information about Griffin’s injury is a separate matter, league officials have said.

Thom Mayer, the medical director of the NFL Players Association, said Oct. 8 that he’d spoken to Anthony Casolaro, the team physician for the Redskins, and had been told by Casolaro that he wasn’t responsible for the use of the term “shaken up”. The Redskins shouldn’t have used those words to describe Griffin’s condition, Mayer said, though they did follow proper medical procedures, he said.

Griffin played in last Sunday’s triumph over the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field after he was cleared by Casolaro and an independent neurological consultant.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said in recent years that the league and its teams are in the midst of bringing about a culture change on the issue of concussions suffered by players. The league has toughened its rules on head injuries, requiring a player who has concussion symptoms to be removed from a game or practice and prohibiting his return until he is cleared by an independent neurologist. The NFL is facing lawsuits by former players who say the league failed to properly warn them about the health risks of concussions. The league has denied the allegations, saying it never withheld information from players.

The NFL also announced that it fined the Buffalo Bills $20,000 for failing to list defensive end Mario Williams on the injury report while he was being treated for a sprained wrist.

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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Mark Maske · October 19, 2012

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