Did the NFL tell the Steelers/Cardinals to sit their QBs?

The NFL and concussions have been in the spotlight all season. This week, both Roethlisberger and Warner sat out their games, resulting in losses for both teams. I’ve heard a lot of talk that the NFL strongly encouraged the Cardinals and the Steelers that neither QB should play.

OK, maybe the Cardinals decision made sense. The Cards are in a commanding lead in the NFC West with a fairly easy schedule the rest of the way EXCEPT for a prime time game next Sunday at home against the Vikings. Sit Warner for a week and see what you’ve got in Leinart.

However, the Steelers were playing a crucial divisional game. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv. I do wonder if Ben made the decision not to play or if that decision was made by the NFL who is looking to avoid controversy. Goodell doesn’t want to be sitting in front of a congressional committee getting worked over by a politician trying to get reelected.

I think the Steeler’s made the right call there. They erred on the side of safety, and if their QB said he was feeling anything or not 100% after that concussion, then it’s better to bench him.

There’s always next season, though I think the Steelers are still strong contenders this time around too (sadly) even with the loss to the Ravens. They just need to pick up the next two games, and then be better prepared vs. the Ravens the next time they meet in Dec.
Ultimately, it was the safe call and the better “humane” call to make vs. the “competitive” call to make. I don’t want my QB feeling jittery when he goes out there worrying about his Head injury, nor do I want to worsen it, especially with a hard hitting team out there like the Ravens facing him.

I’m sure it was a mix of decisions, but the NFL powers that be certainly would look favorably on such a choice, but I don’t really think that they’re the ones who made a hard and fast call saying “bench him.” I’d think the team’s coaches, Docs, and the QB himself would have to talk about it, and a decision was made.

I don’t think they did, but I do think that there will soon be a time when they do tell teams that they have to sit players.

I shudder to think what that will do to the dynamic in the NFL, though. These guys are grown men capable of making their own decisions about their well-being, and a few losses that ought not have happened because of hold-outs will cast suspicion on the results (i.e., the NFL fixing games for desired results).

I’m not sure that concussions are the same as other injuries. If these guys choose to risk their knees or their back by playing hurt, that’s fine by me. A gimpy NFL alumnus doesn’t cast too much of a shadow on the game, and of course they’ll be able to tell when they’re injured and thus at risk.

OTOH, following a concussion a player may feel just fine, but nonetheless be at a greatly increased risk of suffering another concussion. And by choosing to submit themselves to that increased risk, they’re potentially damaging the league, since a bunch of angry, depressed, and/or demented 50 year old ex-players *does *cast a large shadow.

No doubt Malcolm Gladwell’s article about this in The New Yorker has been linked around here already, but it really is worth a read.

Hard to say. I don’t know about the Cards, but the Steeler situation went like this:

  1. Ben got hurt.
  2. He was examined by the team neurologist.
  3. The neurologist didn’t clear Ben.
  4. Tomlin went with the neurologists’ recommendation.

Imho, the NFL didn’t tell Tomlin directly to sit Ben, but I think they did have something to do with the Steelers having a neurologist on staff.

I’m not too sure that if Ben had played in his state that the Steelers would have fared any better in that game. One good blow from Ray Lewis and in comes Dixon anyway.

This is all part of a growing theme with the Steelers and their QB. He gets hit/sacked way too much, and has been for the last couple seasons. It just isn’t sustainable.

I on the hand welcome the day in which medical decisions were made by, preferably fully independent, trained physicians, instead of coaches and players. Especially when dealing with brain injuries. It is about time the NFL takes these things seriously. A player suffering from post concussion symptoms should never be playing, even if it is Super Bowl weekend.

Except NFL players have shown no such capability. I doubt they fully understand the long term risks of playing through concussions. They don’t have medical backgrounds to help them consider the potential consequences. They also have to deal with the influences of coaches (we really need to win this game), players (come on I played through worse), and fans (you get paid $10 million a year and you can’t even suit up?) who won’t necessarily have their best interest at heart. In addition a concussion will leave them confused, disoriented, and less able to make a rational decision. They might not understand how at risk they are if the physical pain is limited.

Concussions are tricky even if you are a neurologists. I applaud Goodell’s efforts to get these decisions into the hands of the people who are capable of making them.

I agree. You should have to be cleared by NFL medical staff, not your team doctors, before you’re allowed to play in any game. This should be combined with treating injuries and testing for banned substances.

I wasn’t depressed at all that the Steelers lost this Sunday, and that’s certainly a change for me. I just shrug off the jesting coworkers with “The Steelers didn’t play Sunday. That was some college team or something.” I mean, sheesh, they went down the street and signed Tyler Palco (for those playing at home: Palco was Pitt’s QB for 3-4 years)! I’ll take the loss- hell, the whole season- if it means we’re protecting Ben’s head.

And speaking of Ben specifically, every time he gets run over by a linebacker or truck, he gets back out there and throws 3 interceptions. Dixon only threw one. Perhaps strategically, it was the better move anyway.

As I understand it, the Warner is still having vision issues related to his concussion. You won’t be hitting Fitzgerald for 60 yard gains if you can’t see past your hand.

From the discussion that was going on during the various games I watched there is a baseline test that the players have to pass to be cleared to play after a concussion. It does not sound like either of the QBs was able to pass (there were other, less critical players in the NFL sitting for the same reason. STL’s Jason Smith for one). There may have been encouragement from the League not to ignore those results.

Didn’t Warner actually take himself out of the previous game after a hard hit? I don’t think the NFL would have had to tell anyone to sit him. He’s been through enough of these to know when he is feeling right and when he isn’t.

I don’t think the NFL has any authority over these kinds of decisions. The reports are that Roethlisberger practiced through the week but had a headache Friday or Saturday, which counts as a symptom of a concussion. You have to be symptom-free for a week before you can play, so he had to sit.

“I’ve lied to a couple of doctors saying I’m straight, I feel good when I know that I’m not really straight. I don’t think guys really worry about the future while they’re playing currently in the NFL.”

– Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward referring to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger not playing in the Steelers’ overtime loss to the Ravens. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Sounds more like Ward is questioning his sexuality.

Unfortunately you run into sentiments like Hines Ward. Considering how macho the atmosphere of the NFL is, hoping stars will take themselves out of games for safety reasons just isn’t practical. It’s like how it took forever for hockey goalies to wear masks because they didn’t want to seem unmanly.

If the Steelers ran the exact same gameplan they did with Roethlisbegerger behind center they have an excellent chance at winning without endangering their quarterback and very likely without a turnover. This is one of the reasons fans aren’t enamoured of the current offense.

Right now, the issue of football concussions is hot, and people are (rightly) pointing out that they are much more dangerous than they were thought of in the past. Concussions are cumulative, so if you get one, you’re likely to get another. And even the small hits players take during a game become dangerous cumulatively.

The macho environment and winning is the only thing philosophy*keeps players for doing what they really need to do for their long-term health. The NFL is right to start being more strict on how teams handle concussions. Winning one game is not worth the long-term risk, both to the player or, ultimately, to the team (if a QB sits out three games before he’s ready, that’s better than if he comes back the next game and is dinged and out for a season or more).

*Something of a distortion of what Lombardi mean when he made the statement.

Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote about this the other day. It also came up in his comments section Sunday. I’m inclined to agree with TNC, that was a real dickish thing to say.

You really think the Packers are an easy game???

Ward comes off like a passive-aggressive ass. Tomlin has said the Steelers did not properly communicate Roethlisberger’s situation, and that may be partly to blame, but Ward sounds like a dick and he also illustrates the problem the league has here. The culture is that you always downplay injuries and get in the game unless you’re unable to stand up. That works against a cumulate, sometimes hard-to-pinpoint injury to the brain. And yes, these guys do have the right to make their own decisions about their health. But it needs to be an informed decision, and I don’t think they are there well informed of what the risks are at this point.

I bet Tomas Vokoun is happy he wears a mask. (Video warning: plays automatically)

I heard Steve Young on ESPN before the Monday Night game talking about concussions in the NFL. His voice got suddenly more serious and said that Ward’s comments are an example of how little players really understand the gravity of repeated concussions. IIRC, Young was leaning towards coming back when a local high school player died from a second concussion shortly following the first. Hearing of the death changed his thinking.

There should be a blanket rule to protect players from themselves.

A few years back I remember that the now-defunct Champ Car racing series had set up a very strict protocol to detect concussions for their drivers. Every driver got a baseline test, then if they were in an accident they were retested. If they didn’t meet x% of their baseline score, they weren’t allowed to drive. The test wasn’t a doctor asking the driver if they felt ok, it was a series of mental and physical tests that weren’t “cheatable” on the part of the driver. A driver could say “I feel fine” but if the test said they were concussed, they had to sit. That’s how to get around Hines Ward-types who may never admit to being “not straight”. Hopefully the NFL will move towards a fail-safe system like that if they are honest about this stuff.