As the year comes to a close, like we have done the last three years, WFNY will take a look at what we view to be the 10 biggest sports stories affecting our local sports scene. Each day through the rest of the year, we will be counting down from 10 to one. Just missing this year’s cut were the Dan Gilbert/Chris Paul trade reaction, the Ohio State Basketball Seniors getting their diplomas on the same day they thrashed George Mason in round two of the NCAA tournament, and the Browns actually winning on a goal-line stand against Jacksonville.
So with that said, let the countdown begin….
#10 Colt McCoy’s Concussion against Pittsburgh leads to a national controversy
To steal a line from our good friend Les Levine – of all of the key sports moments we have discussed, this is the most recent. Just 13 days ago on a Thursday night in Pittsburgh, Browns QB Colt McCoy, who has been battered behind a mediocre offensive line all year, was again running for his life during a big fourth quarter drive. The Browns trailed the rival Steelers just 7-3 and McCoy had moved the team to within striking distance of taking the lead.
It was 2nd and 5 at the Steelers 39 yard line with just over five minutes to play. McCoy was flushed out of the pocket and just after he let go of the ball (a pass to Montario Hardesty), Steelers
headhunter Linebacker James Harrison lit him up like a Christmas tree with a blow to the head. Colt lay on the ground motionless for a little, before wobbling off the field. It was clear he had his bell rung. In came backup QB Seneca Wallace who hit Evan Moore with a beautiful throw to put the Browns first and goal the the Pittsburgh 5 yard line.
Then, inexplicably, McCoy came back onto the field. His first play was a handoff. His second play saw him again run for his life and get flagged for intentional grounding. It was clear there Colt wasn’t ready to be back on the field. On third and goal, he literally just flung a pas up for grabs in the end zone to avoid a Steeler blitz, and was picked off.
The real story was not how the game essentially ended right there, it was how could McCoy have come back onto the field that quickly after such a vicious shot to his head.
Colt met with the media after the game, but the Browns PR people asked that the lights be turned down a little as to not be so bright in his face. Wasn’t that a sign right there that something was wrong? Browns Head Coach Pat Shurmur was asked if bringing Colt right back into the game was the right thing to do, and he responded by saying that Colt went through the proper test before going back in. We would later find out that this was in fact not true. The trainers were looking at his hand the entire time.
The next day, Colt’s father, Brad McCoy, made national headlines when he told the PD’s Mary Kay Cabot that his son had no business being out back into the game:
“I talked to Colt this morning and he said ‘dad, I don’t know what happened,” Brad McCoy said.
“He never should’ve gone back in the game. He was basically out (cold) after the hit. You could tell by the ridigity of his body as he was laying there. There were a lot of easy symptoms that should’ve told them he had a concussion. He was nauseated and he didn’t know who he was. From what I could see, they didn’t test him for a concussion on the sidelines. They looked at his (left) hand.”
“After the game, the (public relations staff) made sure Colt’s interview was brief and he couldn’t face the lights in his press conference,” said Brad. “The TV lights and the Stadium lights were killing him. Why would you say he was fine? That makes it even worse.”
These quotes brought everyone out of the woodwork. Did the Browns really botch an obvious player-safety situation this badly? How could they have put their QB at risk like this? They were getting killed locally and nationally, and the NFL decided to come to Cleveland to review the situation themselves. Finally, somebody had to do something.
That’s when “The Big Show” decided to make an appearance.
In rode Mike Holmgren on his white horse to save the day. His press conference revealed a lot. The Browns training staff indeed did not administer the proper concussion tests before sending McCoy back into the game. The (lame) excuse that was given was that the trainers were attending to both Alex Smith and Owen Marecic on the sidelines, and therefore didn’t see the play. Holmgren then went on the defensive saying his training staff was “the best in the league.” That may be the case, but the fact remains that there were plenty of others who saw the play go down, including Shurmur, and none of them stopped McCoy from going back on the field.
To make matters worse, Holmgren’s arrogance got the best of him when he let off the now infamous “don’t call me when you need extra playoff tickets, you are either with us, or against us” blast. It didn’t serve him well.
In the meantime, two weeks later, Colt is “progressing” but still isn’t ready to play. The Browns were put under the microscope, and rightfully so, by the NFL for their handling of McCoy, and they are staring at a 4-12 season.