I was hoping after the Peyton Hillis situation finally went away that the Browns would be finished for this season with unnecessary non-football storylines for the year. Technically, I guess sustaining a concussion on the football field is football-related, but the way Colt McCoy’s head injury has escaped the confines of game day and Berea puts it in the unnecessary distraction category as far as I’m concerned. So, what happened?
Colt McCoy was victimized by one of the dirtiest hit artists in the NFL with a blatantly illegal slobber-knocker of a shot, helmet-to-helmet style. Thanks James Harrison. Even worse than the hit is the lack of understanding by the guy that rules were broken. As we delve into the other stuff, let’s not forget the catalyst to all this garbage. The Browns apparently checked Colt McCoy’s finger as he sat out two plays. He (also apparently) went back in with a concussion. The Browns lost the game and Colt McCoy seemed wholly out of it in his post-game interviews. I heard (I believe on the radio) that Evan Moore had to drive Colt home after they got back to Berea from Pittsburgh. The next day, Mary Kay Cabot reports that Colt McCoy’s father is indicating that Colt never should have gone back in that game because he doesn’t remember the rest of it. McCoy is sent home from Berea with concussion-like symptoms.
Pat Shurmur seemingly put his foot in his mouth when he stated in post-game interviews that the Browns went through the proper concussion tests. It appears that might or might not be true. A little defense of Shurmur though even as everything that happens with the team on the sidelines is ultimately his responsibility. Pat Shurmur’s record with protecting players with concussions is pretty good this season. Mohamed Massaquoi, Ben Watson, and Owen Marecic have all missed time with concussions. Those are just the ones off the top of my head. That shows a coach that is at least current enough with the times that he isn’t forcing guys back onto the field when their brains are almost literally scrambled.
Simultaneously that doesn’t excuse the fact that Colt McCoy entered a game that he apparently had no business re-entering. Pat Shurmur needs to be able to trust his sideline staff including coaches and doctors when it comes to these situations. Part of having the job as head coach means that it is his responsibility even if it isn’t his immediate job. Anyone who has ever held a management position knows this.
It seems to me that the Browns dropped the ball big time. There should have been some kind of impediment to Colt McCoy getting back in that game. A doctor, coach, or trainer has to be in a position to protect a guy and a head coach from themselves in that situation. If someone failed Pat Shurmur, he needs to take responsibility as manager and change personnel or protocol around him. If he assumed the proper tests were performed on McCoy and they weren’t he has to say that he demands that level of service in dealing with potential concussions and that he was wrong in assuming that those procedures were followed.
Lastly, regardless of how it went down, Brad McCoy needs to keep his mouth shut in the media. I can guarantee that Colt McCoy and his agent have all the phone numbers to all the important people in Berea. If Colt’s dad really needs to be a mouthpiece for his son, he can almost undoubtedly get a direct phoneline to Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmur.
The NFL concussion situation is important and every team needs to avoid mistakes like what happened in Pittsburgh last week from the initial hit to the way it was handled. That means that for the love of all things holy someone needs to get to players like James Harrison who continually use improper form and judgement. The league and the team need to put (more) systems in place to help ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
Lastly, please don’t tell me that the Browns would have won if Seneca Wallace had stayed in the game. Maybe he would have, but it is hardly the point and not even slightly worth talking about with regard to this situation, this team or at this time. Depending on how Colt McCoy is feeling this week, we’ll have plenty of time for a Seneca Wallace conversation as he potentially could take first team reps this week in preparation for the Arizona Cardinals.