NFL will now consider "discipline" for future protocol violations
Rams QB Case Keenum's head slammed into field and he lost fumble three plays later
"We've got to continue to work to get it better," Rams coach says of new protocols
The NFL’s new concussion protocols failed in Sunday’s St. Louis Rams game when quarterback Case Keenum was allowed to play after his head slammed into the field, the league said Wednesday.
Keenum then threw two incompletions and lost a fumble that cost his team the game against the Baltimore Ravens, 16-13.
The NFL said it will now consider whether to impose “discipline” for future protocol failures.
The league held a mandatory teleconference Tuesday night that included the head trainer from each team and team doctors to review the league’s concussion protocols.
“The team medical staffs discussed the events that led to the failure to remove St. Louis Rams quarterback Case Keenum from Sunday’s game, and reviewed the proper implementation of the league’s concussion protocols to ensure that players are removed from the field for a medical evaluation as required by the protocols,” an NFL statement said.
The league and the NFL Players Association will “make improvements as necessary to protect the health and safety of NFL players, including consideration of discipline for future violations of the protocols,” the league said.
The NFL began a new rule in 2015 in which an “ATC spotter,” or independent certified athletic trainer, can stop a game if the observer sees a player with a potential concussion, the league’s website says.
The protocols are designed to assess and manage player concussions, which have led to a class-action legal controversy for the league, as thousands of players sued the NFL in 2012 for negligence for failing to tell players of the link between concussions and brain damage called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
The NFL, which once sought to dismiss the suit, and the players eventually reached a settlement that provides up to $5 million per retired player for serious medical conditions associated with repeated head trauma.
After Sunday’s game, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher acknowledged the mistake, but he noted that Keenum did speak with the team head trainer after the quarterback’s head was slammed to the gridiron on the Rams’ final drive of the game.
Keenum told the head trainer that “he felt that he was OK,” Fisher said.
The ATC spotter assumed that the trainer was taking care of any potential concussion, Fisher said.
“His assumption, because our trainer was on the field, was that it had been taken care of. That’s why the officiating department was not notified,” Fisher said.
The heat of the game complicated the scenario, the coach added.
“Keep in mind we’re in a critical part in this game. When the head trainer goes out there, you’re usually going to be charged with an injury timeout or if you don’t have an injury timeout, there’s going to be a 10-second runoff,” Fisher said.
Fisher pledged that the team, the players association and the league will work together “so that we ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”
“It’s a new system and we’ve got to continue to work to get it better,” Fisher said.