The scary and troubling incident with Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage playing through an obvious concussion has already brought about changes in the NFL's concussion protocol, with more on the way. The finding was made public in a joint statement from the league and the NFL Players Association today, concluding the concussion protocol was followed, but the outcome was not in line with spirit of the policy. On television replays, Savage's hands could be seen shaking as he was on the ground.
According to Sills, the Wilson and Savage cases are the only formal reviews conducted by the league and union this season of the approximately 560 concussion evaluations performed, although all of the evaluations are reviewed outside the formal process. Players who display it "shall be removed from play and may not return to the game". There was a lot of justified criticism after how that situation was handled.
As a result, several changes are being implemented to the concussion protocol.
- Officials, teammates and coaches have been told to take injured players straight to the medical staff for evaluation if a concussion evaluation is warranted. After the following series, Savage was tested again and failed the concussion test. The NFL and the union review determined that the medical staff followed protocol but that his return to the game was "unacceptable".
- Add a pilot program utilizing a centralized UNC based at the league office to monitor the broadcast feeds of all games.
- If players show signs of a seizure or fencing responses, like Savage did, they will be removed from the game and can not return. If players show those signs they will not be allowed back in the game.
- A locker room concussion evaluation for all players demonstrating gross or sustained vertical instability (e.g., stumbling or falling to the ground when trying to stand) will now be required.
The NFL has tried, with its various rules, to right a wrong and be more vigilant with concussions.
A few days later, Savage tweeted his support of O'Brien. It said in the statement there will be a comprehensive offseason review of the protocol, and that's good.