The NFL and NFL Players Association announced Monday that they have agreed to enforcement procedures of the sport’s concussion policy by which any team determined to have violated the protocol can be fined or stripped of draft choices.
The agreement comes after last season’s incident in which St. Louis Rams quarterback Case Keenum was allowed to continue playing after suffering a concussion during a game at Baltimore.
“The NFL and NFLPA, in conjunction with their medical advisory committees, implemented the NFL Game Day Concussion Protocol to address the diagnosis and management of concussions,” the league and union said in Monday’s joint written announcement. “The parties consistently review the Concussion Protocol to ensure that players are receiving care that reflects the most up to date medical consensus. The new policy sets forth disciplinary action against a club should a member of its medical staff or other employee fail to follow the Concussion Protocol.”
Under the new agreement, the league and union each will appoint a representative to monitor whether the concussion procedures are followed properly, and to investigate possible violations of the protocol. Any such investigation “will not reach medical conclusions,” the NFL and NFLPA said, but merely will determine whether the league’s concussion-related procedures were followed. If there is disagreement between the league and union representatives, a third-party arbitrator would be brought in to conduct a review and issue a report.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is in charge of discipline for any violations, according to Monday’s announcement. Potential sanctions include a maximum fine of $150,000 of a team for a first violation; a minimum fine of $100,000 of a team for any subsequent violations; and a minimum fine of $50,000 of a team for a case in which the parties agree the violation involved other circumstances needing to be taken into consideration.
Higher fines and the loss of a draft pick or picks are possible, the league and union said, if the commissioner determines that a team failed to follow the concussion protocol for competitive reasons.
The NFL issued no penalties and assigned no specific blame after Keenum struggled to get to his feet following a hit, but was not taken out of the game against the Ravens last November. The league did leave open the possibility at that point for taking disciplinary action against teams for future violations of the concussion protocol.