“Dr. Charles Tator, a Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto who has been outspoken on the subject of pro sports and concussions, said questions remain with Edelman and NFL concussion data…. Edelman may end up suing the team if he develops complications from the Super Bowl.” MARK ZWOLINSKI
Or is it?
With Edelman’s concussion status a red-button issue for about 14 hours after his New England Patriots downed Seattle for the title, reports surfaced that Edelman was indeed checked and cleared of concussion concerns before re-entering the game.
A “person with knowledge of the situation” said the star receiver was checked on the sideline by medical staff and an independent neurologist. Edelman absorbed a helmet-to-helmet hit from Seattle safety Kam Chancellor, sparking concerns for his well being, but returned to the game, caught three more passes for 33 yards, including a go-ahead touchdown and a five-yarder that set up the game-winning touchdown.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick released a statement Monday outlining a trust relationship with his medical staff, which apparently leaves the bottom line perception that Edelman would not have remained in the game had his concussion clearance been declined by the team’s medical staff.
“I’m a coach and I had a deal with our trainers and doctor,” Belichick said in his statement.
“They’re the medical experts and they don’t call plays, and I’m the coach and I don’t get involved in the medical part,” he said. “When they clear players to play, then if we want to play them, we play them. The plays we call, I don’t have to get approval from them. It’s a good setup.”
Whether the statement and the unsourced clearance report stems concern for Edelman’s playing status remains an open case for the NFL, which drew record audiences, ticket prices and betting levels for the game, all while garnering further criticisms in the weeklong buildup over its handling of several controversies during the season.
One of those controversies was the league’s update on concussion-related incidents, which Commissioner Roger Goodell unveiled during the week to show concussions were down 25 per cent in the 2014 season.
Concern for Edelman erupted after the Chancellor hit, with his return to the game seemingly paced ahead of the NFL’s prescribed timing for head trauma tests of 8 to 12 minutes.
The league’s concussion protocol also lists several symptoms as “potential concussion signs” that should be evaluated, two of which many believed were obvious in Edelman’s behaviour following the hit:
“Slow to get up following a hit to the head” and “Motor co-ordination/balance problems (stumbles, trips/falls, slow/laboured movement).”
The Star’s Bruce Arthur was among many alarmed at Edelman’s movement following the hit, and called for immediate action on Twitter:
“Julian Edelman got hit in the head, hard. Check him. You pretend to be serious about this stuff. Check him . . .”
Further alarm rose when Detroit Free Press writer Dave Birkett twice tweeted that an independent medical officer twice radioed the sideline that Edelman required a concussion test, without confirmation that the test was performed.
Ultimately, Edelman’s terrific, overall performance, the followup test reports and the Belichick statement turned the story away from whether the NFL tested Edelman, but not from concern for player head trauma and the “warrior” status players receive from teammates for playing through pain.
“He’s the toughest player I’ve ever played with. He’s a warrior,” Patriots receiver Danny Amendola said of Edelman, who missed the final two games of the regular season with concussion symptoms, and who replaced Wes Welker, a receiver who’d suffered three concussions over the past year.
Dr. Charles Tator, a Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto who has been outspoken on the subject of pro sports and concussions, said questions remain with Edelman and NFL concussion data.
That concern was echoed previously when Goodell released his concussion data, with critics pointing to quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger, who were allowed to return to playoff games without concussions tests after brutal hits to the head.
“There is minimal evidence that concussions are down in the NFL. There are still too many ways that teams can avoid diagnosing concussions in their players, and thus the statistics are not clear,” Tator said.
“Also, why does the league permit helmet-to-helmet hits? In my opinion, the NFL has not done enough to protect players. Julian Edelman may end up suing the team if he develops complications from the Super Bowl. That should not be the only way to knock some sense into the NFL and the team owners.
“If the USA football world is going to succeed in its attempts to ‘save the game’ it will have to do more.”