During the Miami Dolphins last game, a playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wildcard round, quarterback Matt Moore took a huge (and some would say questionable) hit from Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree.
And Dolphins fan cringed.
Actually most were screaming at their televisions for a flag, as the hit was clearly helmet-to-helmet, and it did indeed draw an unsportsmanlike conduct flag from the officials.
Moore was down for several minutes before being helped to the sideline. But after spending just one play on the sideline, he was right back on the field, surprising commentators and fans alike.
Wednesday, the NFL released a sternly-worded letter to the Dolphins, reprimanding them for not strictly following the league concussion protocol.
To wit, the league’s concussion protocol requires that certain symptoms require that the player be taken to the locker room for further evaluation beyond that given on the sideline. One of those symptoms is ‘bleeding from the mouth’, which was clearly noticeable in Moore’s case.
While the letter addresses Dolphins medical personnel, they weren’t wholly at fault, as the NFL provides an Unaffiliated Neuro-trauma Consultant (UNC) on the sidelines for every game. Team doctors involve the UNC for any suspected concussion evaluations, and the Dolphins did so in this case. The team and UNC jointly cleared Moore to return to the game.
In essence, the story here is that the Dolphins received a stern warning, stating they missed a step in the protocol, and to not let it happen again.
The NFL’s statement, in full, is noted below:
NFL STATEMENT ON MOORE CONCUSSION PROTOCOL REVIEW
The NFL and NFLPA have reviewed the application of the Concussion Protocol by the Dolphins’ medical staff in the January 8th Steelers-Dolphins game.
The Miami Dolphins were notified in a letter co-signed by Dr. Hunt Batjer, Co-Chair of the NFL Head, Neck & Spine Committee and Dr. Thom Mayer, Medical Director for the NFLPA, that the NFL-NFLPA review determined that the Protocol was not strictly followed. The letter further advised the Dolphins that they must engage their staff in a full review of the Protocol and conduct additional education, if necessary. The Dolphins were also advised that any future deviation from the Protocol may result in enhanced discipline, including monetary fines assessed against the Club.
In the second quarter, Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore incurred a hit to the chin and mouth area which drew a roughing the passer penalty. Mr. Moore was attended to by medical staff on the field and on the sideline. The team doctor took appropriate steps to promptly and fully involve the Unaffiliated Neuro-trauma Consultant (UNC) in the medical evaluation of the player and review of the video. They jointly cleared Mr. Moore to return to the game, but did not recognize that Mr. Moore presented a documented symptom, bleeding from the mouth, that required further evaluation in the locker room under the protocol. There is no indication that competitive issues had an impact on the care that Mr. Moore received, nor did Mr. Moore demonstrate any concussion symptoms either during or at any time following the game.
It is important for us to ensure everyone understands and follows the Protocol and that we continue to reinforce its importance. The co-chairmen of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee sent a memo to the medical staffs of the clubs participating in the playoffs reminding them of that point.
The objective of the Concussion Protocol is to ensure a standardized process composed of best practices is used to identify and manage potential concussions. Concussion diagnosis and management is often a difficult and complex exercise, compounded by hectic game conditions. Accurate diagnosis and management of concussion requires a collaborative approach among experienced physicians on the sideline, each acutely aware of his or her responsibilities and all committed to the strict application of the protocol designed to protect players.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
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