A player signaling for medical help for an injured teammate is nothing new. Lawrence Taylor called for it after he saw what did to an opponent’s leg.
Yes, some players work themselves into a frothing-at-the-mouth frenzy to psychologically prepare themselves for the physical battle they are about to partake in, but they can be snapped out of it if they see a snapped body part.
With head injuries, this doesn’t happen often. Only over the last 12-13 years have those types of injuries even been taken seriously in football. For decades, players stayed on the field with blurry vision and lightheadedness because getting their “bell rung” was a part of the game. These days, at NFL games, there are trained professionals watching the game from a high vantage point. Those people are looking at the game with the sole purpose of ordering a player to be removed from play if they show those symptoms.
Those pros missed badly on Monday night during the New England Patriots’ 27-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. DeVante Parker’s head bounced off of the State Farm Stadium turf, and he had to be steadied by one of his offensive linemen. The Patriots were running a hurry-up offense, so he instinctively rushed to the line of scrimmage. Fortunately, Nelson Agholor noticed that his teammate was standing properly. He frantically signaled to the sideline for medical help.
Parker eventually was put into concussion protocol. On Tuesday, it was reported that the NFL and NFLPA are investigating why he wasn’t removed from the game. They aren’t the only people with questions. Parker apparently has some as well.
His words were much stronger on an Instagram story post that begins, “Get on yall’s fucking job @NFL.”
After Tua Tagovailoa’s frightening fencing response in Week 4, the standards for pulling a player off of the field were supposed to be more strict. Any sign of a player stumbling after taking a blow, and he is supposed to be examined immediately.
Maybe the Patriots ran a play too quickly for the spotters to notice, but it definitely didn’t escape the notice of the person standing next to him. The person who noticed, has no professional medical training. In fact, he has been professionally trained, through rote memorization, to instantly be ready to sprint to a position and figure out what to do next by responding to a signal. A wobbly teammate broke that man’s concentration.
Head injuries are complicated. We should mostly applaud Agholor for snapping out of autopilot to make a quick save, and also Parker. Players are trained to play at all costs, but here is someone who is expressing concern that he wasn’t properly cared for while in a vulnerable state.
Unfortunately, mistakes are going to be made in a sport in which head trauma is just as much a part of it as offsides penalties. But what is promising about this particular situation is that the players involved are bringing attention to it.
It’s not their job to spot head injuries. Doing so won’t be something that agents can use to a player’s advantage in contract negotiations. However, them being more vocal about the protocols being followed will absolutely lead to even fewer mistakes being made in these moments.