The system worked on Monday evening. Type of. Hardly.
Patriots receiver Nelson Agholor alerted officials that teammate DeVante Parker was unable to attend the following game after struggling to his feet and stumbling around. Parker had sustained a head injury in the previous game, but the league’s system of detecting such situations and stopping action to remove the player failed.
The NFL and the NFL Players Association have launched a joint investigation. Parker has expressed his displeasure.
“Do your damn job @NFLParker said of NESN’s Zack Cox on Instagram. “Fortunately, my brother was aware of the situation.”
It’s the latest apparent failure of a process involving multiple people tasked with monitoring the action and demanding that players in potential distress be taken to an assessment. In week four, spotters failed to direct the Buccaneers to examine tight end Cameron Brate after he hit his head and struggled to get to his feet.
The league said spotters concluded Brate hit his shoulder, not his head. The league later conceded that Brate did in fact hit his head.
It doesn’t happen often, but once is too often. The League hires people for the specific purpose of seeing and intervening in these things. When Parker says, “Do your damn job,” the people in the dressing room who monitor those situations literally have a damn job.
The late John Madden, whose passion for protecting gamers from the effects of head trauma later in life receives insufficient attention or recognition given his many other accomplishments and contributions, would become enraged after such incidents. After a notable failure to take a player off the field with a potential concussion, a source with knowledge of the reaction said, “Coach Madden has a high level of motivation on this issue and he strongly believes that the pros who are dealing with the protecting player health have to do so, they are expected to do their job – and if they can’t, someone else needs to be hired to do that job.”
Coach Madden’s words will always be 100 percent accurate. It’s a very simple and specific task, especially when the injury happens to the player who was tackled. Off the ball it can be a challenge. When it comes to the player who has the ball, there should never be an excuse or an attempt to make one.
So hopefully the end result of the current investigation is not: “The system worked because Agholor spoke up.” Hopefully it will be like this: “Those responsible for recognizing the situation and taking action have been relieved of their duties. “
In an industry where players are being fired almost every day in the best interests of a particular team, the league must be prepared to quickly fire those who do not demonstrate the appropriate sensitivity to the players’ best interests.