The NFL said Friday it is investigating whether the sport’s concussion-evaluation procedures were followed properly with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson during Thursday night’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.
“A thorough review is underway,” the league said in a written statement. “According to the policy jointed developed by the NFL and NFLPA, if the Concussion Protocol is not properly followed the club is subject to discipline.”
The NFL and the NFL Players Association jointly investigate and evaluate instances in which questions arise as to whether the concussion protocols were applied properly. Under league rules, a player with concussion-related symptoms must be examined and cleared by a doctor or independent neurological consultant before returning to a game or practice.
On Thursday night, Wilson left the game after being sent to the sideline by referee Walt Anderson. Wilson sat in the area of the medical tent on the Seahawks’ sideline. But he got up, apparently before the medical staff had a chance to examine him, and returned to the game after missing only one play.
Following that Seahawks possession, Wilson returned to the sideline and went into the medical tent. He returned to the game the next time the Seahawks had possession and finished the game.
Under an agreement announced last year by the league and union, the NFL and NFLPA each appoint a representative to monitor compliance with the concussion protocols. They also investigate potential violations.
If there is disagreement between the league and union as to whether a violation occurred, a third-party arbitrator is brought in to conduct a review and issue a report.
A team can be fined up to $150,000 for a first violation of the concussion protocols. Higher fines and the potential loss of draft picks also are possible. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is in charge of any discipline.
“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 last year’s joint written announcement of the new procedures.
“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.”