Modern football in a nutshell: Calgary’s quarterback Drew Tate takes a hellacious shot in the head early in the Western Semifinal game. He doesn’t miss a play and leads his team to a miracle win over Saskatchewan in the final minute. Then he tells the world he doesn’t remember any of the first half.
Calgary, head coach John Hufnagel professes after the game to know nothing of Tate’s claim that his “bell got rung”.
In Chicago, Bears QB Jay Cutler receives a head shot, plays seven more plays and then leaves the game. In Philadelphia, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick leaves the game immediately after a big hit with what his coach later calls “ a pretty significant concussion”. In San Francisco, 49ers QB Alex Smith is knocked out of a game with a concussion after taking a vicious hit. Smith does not play after the tackle.
Different teams, different players, different responses to modern concussion protocols. None of which completely satisfies in the fog war that is a football game.
HEAD SPIN: Calgary’s response drew the most attention. On Monday, Hufnagel elaborated on Tate’s bell-rung comments: “I think he answered a serious question not seriously enough.” Hufnagel insisted protocol had been followed to the league standards.
The Stamps then tried to walk Tate back on his remarks in a press release It did not go well. Tate insisted, “I got dinged in the second quarter and there was some fuzziness... By the time I got to the sideline and talked to everyone, I felt fine”. He claimed, “The reason I said I didn’t remember anything from the first half was because we didn’t play great and I just wanted to move on.”
He said he was confused by the questions of the media pack after the game (We personally attended; Tate was excited but lucid and repeated his memory-loss story several times.) It all sounded like trying to get tooth paste back in the tube.
Making it hardest to comprehended is that Calgary’s offensive coordinator Dave Dickenson’s brilliant CFL career was ended by concussions. What to believe?
The CFL must deal with the seeming contradiction. Was Tate concussed? Should he have been held out, as the NFL QBs were? Can Tate now start Sunday’s Western Final? There’s more ‘splaining to do, Lucy.
FUZZY RESPONSE: In Chicago, the Bears and the NFL threw Cutler under the ol’ Greyhound. The NFL said the team did the proper cognitive tests before sending him back in. (This, even though Cutler was clearly woozy and cameras saw no indication of significant testing on the Bears bench.)
Then both the Bears and NFL said Monday that “players are to be encouraged to be candid with team medical staffs and fully disclose any signs or symptoms that may be associated with a concussion.” Insinuating that Cutler wasn’t frank with them.
Both the Eagles and 49ers followed procedures and did not risk further injury to players. But ESPN’s Chris Mortenson says, “the NFLPA thinks there’s been backsliding on concussion protocols. Union will press for league to put non-team ‘concussion specialists’ on sidelines.”
The bottom line is this: Five years ago, it’s likely that three of the four QBs would have finished their game. Now, there’s a question if they’ll even finish the season.
CRASHING THE PARTY: Remember Kanye West stealing Taylor Swift’s big moment at the MTV Awards? That’s how it felt watching Gary Bettman bring down the room at Monday’s Hall of Fame inductions. The attention that Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure, Adam Oates and Mats Sundin richly deserved was nuked by the ongoing CBA silliness.
They deserved better. So did our Roy Macgregor, winner of the Elmer Ferguson Award, and Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret, winner of the F-F-F-Foster Hewitt Award.
TWEET NOTHINGS: “ @dowbboy : Always said toughest part of CBA was NHL giving NHLPA a win, however small. But Jeremy Jacobs always has to take last 5 cents in every deal.”
@ DownGoesBrown: Steve Fehr saying that he and Bill Daly can consummate a deal fairly quickly “when the time is right” is like the worst Cialis ad ever.
JILTED LOVER: Signs that former Lakers coach Phil Jackson was not happy to be passed over for Mike D’Antoni as the next coach of the Lakers. “It could’ve been much more circumspect and respectful of everybody involved. It seemed slimy to be awoken with this kind of news.” We count that as a No.
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