As for the NFL Players Association, changes to the league’s concussion protocols can’t come soon enough.
The union released a statement Friday confirming it had come to an agreement with the NFL change to prevent players from returning to game if they show gross motor instability, which notoriously happened with Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in Week 3.
The NFLPA called on the league to implement the change in time for this weekend’s games:
“Our union has agreed to change the concussion protocols to protect players from returning to play in the event of any similar incident to what we saw on September 25. We would like these changes to take effect before this weekend’s games to immediately to protect the players. and hope that the NFL also accepts the change before.”
The NFL and the union then agreed on Saturday to implement the changes starting with games on Sunday.
The NFL responded with opening statement on Friday night confirming they had agreed to the changes, but refused to address the union’s demand for immediate change.
The two sides released results of their investigation into the Tagovailoa case as well, and mutually agreed “that the outcome in this case is not what was intended when the protocols were drafted. As such … the protocol will be modified to enhance security from the players.”
“The protocol exists to establish a high standard of concussion care for each player whereby each medical professional engages in a meaningful and rigorous examination of the player’s patent,” the conclusion read, in part. “To that end, the parties remain committed to continuing to evaluate our protocol to ensure that it reflects the intended conservative approach to evaluating player-patients for potential head injuries.”
Tagovailoa’s handling of the Dolphins has been under high scrutiny since he returned in Game 3, with the NFLPA announcing that it would investigate the process the same night. Raised eyebrows turned into expressions of horror in the Dolphins’ next game when Tagovailoa sustained a major concussion from his head slamming into the ground, prompting a full reexamination of how the NFL handles head injuries.
NFL teams were generally more cautious with players who suffered apparent head injuriesmost recently with Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim HinesWorld Health Organization did not return to “Thursday Night Football” after exhibiting clear gross motor instability.
The concussion policy change will codify that heightened caution. Hopefully, teams have learned their lesson after Tagovailoa’s injury, but the union clearly doesn’t want to take any chances.