It’s become evident to me over the past few season as concussions have become more of a focal point in the NFL and injuries have spiked because of the violent hits in the game that doctors need more control on the sidelines.
Dr. James Andrews was paid to be on the sidelines by Dan Snyder to be the angel on Snyder’s rookie franchise QBs shoulders but Dr. Andrews was not allowed to properly do his job. His job was whatever Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III wanted him to look at, NOT what the doctor himself thought he should look at. What I mean by this is if RG3 said he was okay and felt alright and coach Shanahan got caught up in the superman hype that was RG3 for 14 of 17 games of the NFL season, then Dr James Andrews had nothing to evaluate. Things such as this have to change with the NFL if they want to get serious about player safety. I know us fans don’t want to hear it, players don’t want to hear it, coaches certainly don’t want to hear it, and especially owners don’t want to hear it — but it’s true!
We have to sit back and put doctors thoughts and doctors evaluations more into the NFL during the game! Not just after the fact, after the game but during the game on the sidelines and especially in decision making on whether the players should go back into the game or not. It has become evident to me the final say on whether RG3 could play was never really Dr. James Andrews, it was Griffin pleading to the person who made the decision, the coach and person with final say on player personnel decisions, Mike Shanahan. Andrews was on the sidelines, but overruled by someone. I’m referring to at one point after Robert tweaked his knee on the second drive of the game. The training staff took Griffin into a shed behind the bench, which Lavar Arrington referred to as a bathroom, and Dr. Andrews followed them to the door but the door was shut on him. I don’t know who said no to him, but one of the three men that went into that shed did. It was either of the two training staff members or possibly even Griffin himself.
How much power does one man need? Not only does he control all the coaching decisions and final player acquisition, evaluation, and roster building, but apparently Mike Shanahan can play doctor and override their thoughts as well.
This isn’t just about Mike Shanahan, this goes for every sideline in the NFL. I’ve seen millions of times when players have been knocked out in the past two years where they went back in the game. The one I vividly remember was when James Harrison laid out Colt McCoy who needed help to get up and get off the field because he had a concussion, but his coach and Colt later decided it was okay to go back in the game.
This isn’t right. There needs to be independent doctors out there, doctors not associated with the team, not paid for by the owner that have the final say after a player is injured if they should go back in the game. I said this after Robert Griffin got the concussion against the Falcons and was allowed to play the following week vs. Minnesota.
The NFL needs better protocol on this, players need to do a better job protecting themselves. Owners, coaches and fans need to be more worried about players long term health and if they can finish a season rather than if they win just one game.