In his weekly edition of Monday Morning Quarterback, Sports Illustrated's Peter King kicked things off with an interview he had with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Most of the interview dealt with player safety, where Goodell explains the changes that have been made to ensure a player who suffers a concussion receivers the proper treatment. The example from Colt McCoy's incident last year is used as an example. I know we've heard what went wrong in this situation a few times, but the interview in King's piece spells things out in a very clear manner.
King: How do you expect the system to work this year?
Goodell: "The player has to self-report and has to tell professionals. We have spotters, as you know, our ATC [athletic trainers] spotters program, which we implemented late in the season to sort of identify hits that would require an evaluation. That will be expanded and fully in place this season. There's an ATC, which is an athletic trainer who's not active right now, but they'll be upstairs. They will have access to all the video and if they see a hit that involves a significant blow to the head or if a player demonstrates any kind of dizziness or potential slowness to get up, they call down to the sideline and make sure the medical professional has that number and they can go make an evaluation ... Now we have the technology to send the play down to the field, so that if a medical personnel wants to look at that, they can look at the play and that has been very helpful in the playoffs. It's almost like the instant replay setup. You'll see the equipment down behind the bench area. The ATC spotter can actually, just like we do with instant replay, send a play down if the trainer or the doctor wants to see a play. They can look at the play and see what they call the mechanisms of injury. That's the term that's used. Through the mechanism of injury, you can determine, 'OK, I need to look at that.' It's a tremendous tool for the doctors.
King: Would the Colt McCoy story have been different with this set-up?
Goodell: "He was examined, but they were focusing on his hand, because that's what he was complaining about. There are two or three injuries on that one play that happened in different places ... I have to go back and look, but I'm quite certain we had the ATC spotter when the Colt McCoy hit happened. What was happening though was the doctors were in looking at him [at his hand, not his head], so the ATC spotter said, 'Well, he's being evaluated, so that's fine.' What was the fallacy in it is that they were evaluating the wrong thing. What we're going to do now is to say regardless of whether you see them being evaluated, you are to speak to them and you are to tell them that there is head-to-head contact and here's the play and look at it. You would have seen the Colt McCoy hit and would have said, 'Forget his thumb now. Let's focus on if he had any type of injury to his head.' ... He would not have gone back in after three or four plays. One of the things we're learning about concussions is sometimes the symptoms don't occur for several minutes. We don't know about the brain. It may just not be apparent for some period of time and that's another complicating factor to this."
Check out the rest of King's column for more.