April 19, 2014

No Excuses and Plenty of Blame in Colt McCoy Concussion Case

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.

Another mess.

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.

  • Shamrock

    Keep up the good work Browns!

  • pepe

    Every week Schurmur comes up with a new reason for Holmgren to fire him. I’ve been arguing for continuity, but at this point, Schurmur is simply drowning. His days are numbered. That number might 450 days, but the writing is on the wall. He doesn’t appear to be able to do anything right. It would be funny it weren’t so sad.

    I really hope Dick Jauron doesn’t get a head coaching gig.

  • Big Z

    The Browns FINALLY throw the Steelers a physical beating, IN PISSBURGH nonetheless, and now all anyone wants to talk about is how ridiculously inept their medical staff / management is. I simply cannot believe whoever is responsible for this fiasco is still employed.

  • TikiHat

    I’m unsure about this rule. From what I understand, the screening must be done after somebody leaves the game due to a head injury. It seems like Colt got to the medical staff complaining about his hand, not his head. It is entirely possible that any glassy-eyed symptom would have been masked by his reaction to the pain in his hand. What is the actual trigger for the screening? Is it whenever a player leaves after a shot to the head, regardless of what injury he might be complaining about, or is it whenever a player shows potential symptoms of a head injury?

    I suffered a severe concussion in a car accident once, T-Boned on the driver’s door. I was out cold for a few seconds, then instantly started hollering about my left elbow and shoulder. Nobody worried about my head; not me, not the paramedics at the scene, not the ambulance crew, the ER Doc, the X-Ray technician, the Radiologist, nor the nurse who fitted my sling. It wasn’t until several hours after the accident, when I went to sign my discharge paperwork and drew an absolute blank when the lady asked me how to spell my last name, that anybody had the slightest idea I had a head injury. Perhaps a dozen trained professionals were with me over a 3-4 hour period, and not one of them spotted the concussion due to my rather emphatic suffering from other injuries that were much more painful. Needless to say, I did not get to go home that night, or the next one either.

  • humboldt

    @Tiki – sorry to hear about the accident and glad you’re alright.

    The key differences w/ the McCoy incident are:

    1) Whereas none of the medical personnel who addressed your injuries actually saw your accident, all of the Browns doctors/trainers saw McCoy get unmistakably bludgeoned in the head by Harrison’s helmet.

    2) Whereas the ER personnel who worked with you were quite understandably treating your acute injuries, the medical staff w/ the Browns have been trained to specifically monitor head injuries during this paradigm-shifting era in the NFL.

    There is absolutely no excuse for what happened. McCoy’s long-term health was put in jeopardy by the ineptitude of the organization, and that is unacceptable.

  • Dan C.

    Hypothetical situation: (sorry if this was mentioned, i stopped reading after 20 or so comments to add my two cents)

    Maybe after he was hit, the trainers came over and McCoy told them something along the lines of “I just got the wind knocked out of me, give me a second” and since he was moving (he never blacked out, he’s obviously moving around after the hit) and talking they never even tested him for a concussion. Instead they look at his hand, let him catch his breath, and throw him in the game. When Shurmur asks for the status of McCoy the trainers say he’s fine, thinking the head coach was asking about his hand.

    This is the only thing I could come up with in my head as to how something like this could happen in the current NFL. If this is true, people should get fired, even the announcers mentioned the whiplash the hit created on his head.

    If the real truth is they were thinking concussion and didn’t do the proper tests/procedures, the medical staff in charge of knowing those procedures should get fired.

    Can’t really blame Shurmur for putting him back in though. It’s the medical staff who needs to rule out a player in that situation. Now, if Shurmur picked the med staff, obviously my opinion changes.

    Regardless, someone should get fired.

    By the way, why do we put up with this? I was totally embarrassed by the staff infection situation we had a few years ago. The product on the field is sub standard. The owner isn’t even a fan of NFL Football, he’d rather watch soccer. Now it’s trickled down to our med staff?? Stuff like this embarrasses me. I’m not just “happy to have the Browns back” anymore. I feel like I’m being played. I’ll always be a Browns fan, but there is nothing about the current version that makes me think the Browns care if I give a sh!!t.

  • TikiHat

    Humboldt: I read comments from Evan Moore that said the medical staff were not watching the game, they were busy tending to other players on the sidelines. That was one of the things that inspired my question. If the first thing they actually saw was Colt walking up, grimacing in pain and complaining about his hand they might not have had any reason to administer the screening; based on the evidence in front of them. They’re not going to stop and look up at the jumbotron before starting to work, after all.They’re going to deal with the problem before them.

    My family still teases me about forgetting how to spell my name, and for what I did immediately afterwards. I stared blankly for a second, then pulled out my ID and read it off to the lady. Even though my memory was impared, I was still capable of a degree of problem-solving. Had she asked a different question first, like my policy number, I would have already had my ID out and answered the spelling of my name without reaching into my hip pocket.