The Rams traveled to Dallas two weeks ago to compete with the Cowboys and came back not only with a loss, but with two players carted off the field suffering from head trauma. Tackle Jason Smith and defensive tackle Darell Scott both sustained concussions, with Smith also suffered a neck sprain.
Wednesday, the NFL released a mandate that they will instruct all game officials to be more aware of the symptoms of concussions. The league was pressed into action after the head trauma and seizure suffered by San Diego Chargers guard Kris Dielman on Oct. 23 while flying home from a road game across the country.
The NFL’s Injury and Safety Panel sent a directive that officials become better educated on concussion symptoms. A weekly training tape was created for the crews to review with their referees before each game. This tape included instruction on how to identify concussion symptoms, and the league will provide officials with more detailed information as they move forward.
Greg Aiello, the NFL’s vice president of public relations, said, “We’re not trying to train the officials to be doctors, but we’re asking them to treat (concussion symptoms) like other injuries that may make it necessary to stop the game and get (players) medical attention, either on the field or by getting them off the field.”
NFLPA (National Football League Players Association) medical director Dr. Thom Mayer told ESPN on Monday that there were “lessons to be learned” from the Dielman incident. The game’s umpire, Terry Michalek, checked with Dielman after the Chargers’ lineman staggered backward after a hit early in the fourth quarter against the New York Jets. The Pro Bowl guard waved him off and remained in the game. Chargers team doctors had an obstructed view of the action from the sideline and were occupied with another injured player.
While both Rams players were on the team charter when it returned to St. Louis, neither player were around the facility last week and they have yet to be cleared to participate in either weight-room workouts, on-field drills or full practice.
I coached at the college level (four years) and scouted in the NFL for 15 years, and I have seen a lot of head trauma, concussions and major injuries. Educating the officials should have been a part of the game years ago. No, they’re clearly not doctors, but they may see something wrong with a player and they need the authority to stop play and get them immediate medical attention; not waiting for a player to hit the ground before action is taken. The players are the product and should be protected from each other and from themselves.