Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman called the NFL’s concussion protocol “an absolute joke,” in a video shared by The Players’ Tribune.
Sherman offered his thoughts in response to a question about the rule and answered whether he would ever consider donating his brain to research.
“It’s for public opinion, for them to show the public that they care about the players, they care about player safety,” Sherman said. “In a show of good faith and goodwill they said ‘We’re gonna have an independent trauma expert, an independent neurologist approve people,’ and the same things are happening that were happening before.”
Sherman’s Seahawks were fined $100,000 for not correctly following concussion protocol with quarterback Russell Wilson earlier this season.
The NFL has had some form of concussion protocol since 2009, and has been making adjustments to it ever since, including this past December.
There are five steps to the protocol (via SB Nation).
1. When a potential concussion is identified the player shall be removed immediately from the field.
2. The NFL team physician and the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant with review the play and perform a focused neurological examination.
3. If there is suspicion of a concussion, the player will be escorted to the locker room for a full assessment.
4. If the player is diagnosed with a concussion, there is no same-day return to play.
5. If the player passes the exam, he will be monitored for symptoms throughout the game.
Sherman specifically mentioned a Dec. 10 incident with Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage as evidence the protocol doesn’t work.
“The Tom Savage play where he was looked at by the independent neurologist and they approved him to go back into the game, and now the team is being ridiculed. How about the league gets ridiculed for letting him go back in the game? Because they approved it. The independent neurologist, which is hired by the league, approved for him to go back in the game.”
More recently, the protocol was criticized after Carolina Panthers‘ quarterback Cam Newton was not removed from Sunday’s playoff game against the New Orleans Saints despite looking concussed after a big hit.
Sportsnet’s Donnovan Bennett took a closer look at that play and how the Panthers broke the rules in this piece.
As for Sherman, despite the criticism, don’t expect him to donate his brain to research.
“No, I’m not donating by brain to science,” he said. “My brain is going to stay in my head.”