Mahomes Concussion: Will He Be Cleared For Conference Championship?

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The Chiefs were cruising to an easy victory over the Browns until Patrick Mahomes left the game in the third quarter. Then all of a sudden, they were in a battle. His team ultimately held on, but now they have another problem on their hands. Will their QB be able to return for the conference championship next week against Buffalo?

More often than not, a player ruled out with head injury misses the next week, but that rule is not absolute. Because the championship game is at home, Mahomes will have a full seven days to clear concussion protocol. However, the NFL and a neuro consultant agreed upon by the NFLPA will make the final determination on whether he plays. 

By video, Mahomes receive a direct hit to the shoulder, not the head. He then landed forcefully on his chest. He certainly was wobbly getting up, which necessitates a head injury check, and he was subsequently ruled out of the game with a concussion.

There was speculation that he was “getting choked,” given the neck tackle and the way he appeared “faint.” Concussions can certainly happen without direct blows to the head, and the manifestation of symptoms is always unpredictable.

Here is how Mahomes can be cleared to play vs the Bills: the third parties mentioned above must determine that the injury is not a concussion after all. Injuries can sometimes be labeled as a concussion during the game in the name of safety, but subsequent examinations can alter that initial diagnosis. If Mahomes has no symptoms tonight or tomorrow, he can begin concussion clearance protocol and, barring setback, could clear by next Sunday.

Normally, the chances that a player would clear are not good. Given the indirect mechanism of the injury though, I think there is a good chance Mahomes will clear if he has no symptoms. 

Let’s hope so. We want the games decided with teams at full strength.

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.


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  1. Mahomes arms look like those of an unconscious man as he falls to the ground. if he was joked out that fast by the tackler yanking on his pads, isn’t that a sign of something else. maybe co-existing cardiac condition? or something?

    he definately should not practice all week. and playing is insane too, but he will.

  2. When you watch the reply the front of his face mask slams forcefully into the ball and ground as he hits the ground full force and comes to a sudden stop. I think that sudden jolt did the damage more than the hit.

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