Indianapolis quarterback Jacoby Brissett suffered a helmet-to-helmet hit late in the third quarter of the Colts’ loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. The Colts punted on the next play, and Brissett returned on the next series. He was placed in concussion protocol after the game.
The team said Brissett was evaluated during the game for a concussion, passed, and was cleared to return. He began showing concussion-like symptoms after the game had ended, according to a graphic released by the Colts on Twitter.
Information regarding Jacoby Brissett being placed in concussion protocol: pic.twitter.com/ysGhwzZvEk— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) November 12, 2017
Chris Nowinski, CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation and one of the key figures in linking football to long-term brain damage, harshly criticized Indianapolis’s decision to allow Brissett to return to the game.
#NFL #concussion protocol is a fraud. QB Jacoby Brissett goes back in after showing the clearest concussions signs of the season. Helmet-to-helmet hit, holds head, then goes limp, then needs help up. You don't need a protocol to hold this player out for the game. Check the tape: pic.twitter.com/db8sDwVmVl— Dr. Chris Nowinski (@ChrisNowinski1) November 12, 2017
This was the second time in Week 10 that a quarterback returned to a game after possibly suffering a concussion. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson took a shot to the chin from Arizona linebacker Karlos Dansby on Thursday night and was sent off the field by referee Walt Anderson. But Wilson went to the sideline tent only momentarily and returned to the field after missing the minimum one play. He was under center for two more plays before the drive ended. He then re-entered the medical tent for a longer period of time before returning at the start of Seattle’s next possession.
Russell Wilson sent off after taking hit to the chin for concussion check, ducked in the tent then sent right back out pic.twitter.com/8HXvKOGNuG— That Dude (@cjzer0) November 10, 2017
League policy requires that a player suspected of suffering a concussion must be cleared by a team doctor and an independent neurologist before returning.
The NFL ruled the Thursday sequence was a violation of concussion protocol because Wilson was not cleared before returning to the game, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Seahawks could face a fine as large as $150,000 for the violation.
The league has adopted strict concussion protocols on game day aimed at avoiding serious brain injuries. Players who return to the field immediately after suffering a concussion are at risk for second-impact syndrome if they incur another hit to the head, which can lead to potentially fatal brain swelling.