ProFootballDoc: The NFL Has Some Explaining To Do

In no way am I saying the medical personnel at the Sunday Night Football game have erred. However, the league owes us an explanation. Take a look for yourself.

Everyone saw the brutal “you got jacked” hit by the 49ers Jimmie Ward on Packers WR Davante Adams. There was clearly helmet-to-head contact with a lowered crown, and a penalty should have been called. Even former referee Terry McCauley admitted as much on the broadcast.

Adams stayed on the ground for close to two minutes. By video, he seemed to exhibit concussion signs/symptoms, and that by itself is enough to rule him out. The edict is “when in doubt, rule him out.”

He was then taken to the blue medical tent to be evaluated in the presence of the independent sideline neuro doctor (red hat). In real time, he exited the tent and ran back on the field in only 1 min and 30 seconds and missed only the minimum one play.

The medical team is required by league rules to review the head injury video and then perform at least a five question screening test in the blue tent. I am not saying it is impossible to complete this task in a minute and a half, but that would be close to record speed. There is no accusation of cheating here, as the “red hat” is undoubtedly a 49ers fan and is from the local San Francisco area, and the Packers staff cannot act without the independent doctor’s approval.

A full head injury evaluation would take 5-10 minutes and has to be done in the locker room. A screening exam is five questions and can be done in the tent. The question to the “red hat” is why he felt a full evaluation wasn’t needed.

The fact remains that Adams returned and subsequently helped Green Bay to a game-winning field goal as time expired by snagging two big catches and looked and acted healthy doing so. He also looked healthy post-game.

My point is that this is a bad look for the NFL not to provide an explanation. Doing so might make it clear that the safety of Adams was properly cared for. Given the historical mistrust of the league’s handling of head injuries, this transparency would help.

The head referee is required post game to answer questions from a designated pool reporter, and this often helps clears up misconceptions. To me, it would make sense to compel the “red hat” involved to do the same. Certainly, medical issues like this are more important than clearing up a ruling or call.

Adams himself tried to clear things up. However, these things shouldn’t be left to a player, who is always going to try and play through. This report should come from a medical professional.

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. I’m glad you said something doc, because I was shocked to see Adams jogging back on the field after that vicious hit. The camera zoomed in on his face right after while laying on the ground and you could tell in his eyes he was out cold. You know he had a concussion. I thought him being out for the game was a foregone conclusion. On top of missing a clear targeting call that could’ve seriously injured one of the league’s biggest stars, they mishandle his concussion protocol? What’s more ironic is the Nazi-like rigor the league applies to enforce Covid vaccines protocols on every player, but then let something like this go that’s actually serious for player safety. That incident last night made the league look totally incompetent in its safety procedures.

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