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Tom Savage Returns to the Field After a Gruesome Hit, Again Putting the NFL’s Concussion Protocol Under the Microscope

The quarterback was later replaced by backup T.J. Yates

San Francisco 49ers v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The league’s concussion protocol has come under scrutiny again after Texans quarterback Tom Savage suffered a gruesome hit on Sunday and returned to the game. In the second quarter of Houston’s matchup with San Francisco, Savage took a hit from 49ers linebacker Elvis Dumervil and then returned to the game minutes later before being pulled for backup quarterback T.J. Yates. He was later diagnosed with a concussion. The following video shows his reaction after the hit. (Be warned, this video is disturbing to watch.)

Savage appeared to hit his head against the ground after the hit. As a referee checked on him, his arms trembled above his chest. The Texans punted on the next play, and Savage was evaluated in the medical tent. He returned for Houston’s next offensive series, and the Texans went three and out.

On the following offensive series, two series after the initial hit, Savage was replaced by Yates. Usually, players diagnosed with a concussion have their helmets taken away, but television cameras showed Savage with his helmet on trying to re-enter the game before being stopped by a Texans staffer.

When a player is suspected of suffering a concussion, they are supposed to be cleared by both a team doctor and an independent neurological consultant before being allowed to return to the game.

In Week 10, Jacoby Brissett was evaluated for a concussion and returned to the field, but exhibited symptoms after the game and was diagnosed with a concussion. In the same week, Russell Wilson was sent off the field following a hit, but re-entered the game before being cleared. The league determined Wilson’s return was a violation of the concussion protocol.

Savage’s hit is the second major concussion-related news item of the day for the Texans. Before Sunday’s game, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that 26-year-old Texans tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz may retire after suffering four concussions in the last two seasons, including three this year.