Really scary moment last night in the Chargers-Broncos game, when safety Jaleel Addae ran into a pile at the line of scrimmage and then, uh, did the herky-jerky? It was very strange his reaction, like he was having a seizure, while remaining upright.
Something I'd missed was that he got rocked in the very first play of the game, and lay motionless on the field for a while. So it could very well be that he played essentially the entire game while already 'out on his feet'.
Again, we heard from Chargers doctors that they administered the concussion protocol and he passed it. So he was okay to go back in. Sure.
Last week, the buzz around the league was about Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles, and how he claimed he avoided doctors after a collision with Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers in the end zone during the second half. He suspected they might find something wrong with him, he'd seen light flashes after the collision, and didn't want to sit out the game. It was discussed ad nauseam how you can't prevent grown men from doing as they want, but still the KC docs came in for a bit of heat. It was generally agreed that they failed their duty by allowing a trainer to examine Mr. Charles superficially, rather than they doing the Full Monty.
What was missed in the discussion was how Brandon Flowers also was clearly knocked out momentarily on the play. Interestingly, it was a referee who noticed this, and when Mr. Flowers staggered to his feet, took him by the arm and escorted him to the Chargers' bench and told the team's coaches that he needed attention. This was a great example of the league's change in rules and procedures to allow for this to occur, in response to the Kris Dielman incident.
In that case, the Chargers Pro Bowl guard had been knocked out on a play and wobbled on his feet before the next snap, and was asked by the refs if he was okay, but he waved them off, assuring them he was fine. At the time, it had to be the team's docs or trainers or players who called for an injured player timeout, the refs weren't allowed to stop play for these purposes. So Mr. Dielman kept on playing, aware that he was the last man standing, with all the other offensive lineman subs already injured. He subsequently suffered a severe seizure on the flight home, and never played again.
So fast-forward to last week, the refs made the right call with Brandon Flowers, proactively telling the Chargers "He's knocked out, make sure to get him some medical attention".
The Chargers medical staff still messed it up. They, sigh, 'administered the protocol', he, surprise surprise, 'passed it', and got back in the game. Eventually, he started feeling worse, and they took him out of the game for good.
How long before it's understood that once you get 'rocked', or 'get your bell rung', or 'see stars', those are unmistakable signs of a concussion, according to accepted guidelines. When that happens, once you see the stars, you can't 'pass' the protocol after, you've already suffered the damage, you need to sit out the rest of the game and be re-evaluated the next day.
The protocol is only used to rule out a concussion when someone is hit hard, but doesn't have those objective symptoms of a concussion. In those cases, the player still needs to be evaluated, in case one did occur, and that's where the protocol comes in handy. If the player passes, and more importantly didn't lose consciousness or have ringing in his ears, etc. at first, then he can be cleared and return to action.
The Canadiens famously botched that in Dale Weise's case last spring. The Chargers have done the same, two weeks in a row, with two different players.
Why the NFL is still struggling with this process, so late into the game, when it's being hit with lawsuits related to its turning a blind eye to the concussion-CTE link, is baffling.
Bill Polian, the longtime NFL exec and current ESPN analyst, argues that rosters need to increase, to allow more bodies on the sidelines during games, so there isn't this pressure to return players to action when the backup players available dwindle due to injury. With the amount of money in the game, this should be a fix that's implemented immediately.
UPDATED: On Friday October 25, a full day after the game, the Chargers announced that Jaleel Addae had show "delayed concussion symptoms".