Sports

NFL tweaks concussion protocol after Savage case

Texans QB returned to game, later failed test

A joint review of how the Houston Texans handled concussion protocol in relation to quarterback Tom Savage determined the team will not face discipline for how it handled the situation.

The NFL and NFL Players Association found that letting Savage return to play in the Week 14 game against the San Francisco 49ers was "unacceptable." A short time after returning to the contest, Savage was tested again and failed the concussion test.

"The NFL and NFLPA recognize that Mr. Savage's return to the game did not reflect the expected outcome of the Protocol," the joint statement from the NFL and NFLPA said. "As such, the parties have agreed that no discipline will be assessed, but have already implemented several improvements to the Protocol to prevent such an unacceptable outcome in the future."

Savage, who is now on injured reserve, suffered the concussion in the second quarter of the game and his hands began twitching. Replays of Savage's hands weren't seen until by doctors until after he was cleared to return, according to the joint review.

The NFL and NFLPA said the following procedures have been put in place:

--Implemented a pilot program utilizing a centralized Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant based at the league office to monitor the broadcast feeds of all games. The UNC will contact the team medical staff on the sideline should they observe any signs or symptoms warranting further evaluation.

--Defined impact seizure and fencing responses as independent signs of potential loss of consciousness, representing "No-Go" criteria under the current Protocol. Players who display either of these signs at any time shall be removed from play and may not return to the game.

--Require a locker room concussion evaluation for all players demonstrating gross or sustained vertical instability (like stumbling or falling to the ground when trying to stand).

--Officials, teammates and coaching staffs have been instructed to take an injured player directly to a member of the medical team for appropriate evaluation, including a concussion assessment, if warranted.

--Require all players who undergo any concussion evaluation on game day to have a follow-up evaluation conducted the following day by a member of the medical staff.

--Added a third UNC to all playoff games and the Super Bowl to serve as a backup who can step in immediately should one of the original two UNCs be absent from the sideline for a time to attend to a more severely injured player.

Earlier this month, the Seattle Seahawks were fined $100,000 by the NFL for not properly following concussion protocol with quarterback Russell Wilson during a game against the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 9.


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