Concussion experts, professional athletes, NFL fans, and others expressed their shock and disgust that Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage was returned to play in Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers immediately after being hit and clearly showing signs of concussion.
Mr. Savage remained on the ground after being hit on a third-down play, his arms outstretched and twitching in a seizure-like manner known to concussion experts as a “fencing response.”
Team doctors evaluated Mr. Savage on the field, but instead of docking him and getting him the treatment he needed, they returned him to the game.
It wasn’t until he threw two incompletions on the ensuing drive that a concussion spotter in the booth called for further evaluation of Mr. Savage. In the locker room, the medical staff weren’t satisfied with his condition and clocked him out.
Texans backup quarterback T.J. Yates took over for Mr. Savage and finished out the half.
Returning to play immediately after a concussion is pretty much the worst thing a player can do, and it’s likely one of the reasons why hundreds of former NFL players exhibit signs of brain disease or have been diagnosed post-mortem with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and other degenerative illnesses of the brain. Even the mildest of concussions require immediate and adequate inactivity and rest.
When asked about Mr. Savage’s concussion in a postgame press conference, Texas coach Bill O’Brien effectively threw the question out of bounds, saying he had no knowledge of Mr. Savage’s condition and left the determination in the hands of the medical evaluators.
Former New England Revolution forward Taylor Twellman, whose professional hockey career was cut short by game-related head injuries, took to Twitter to voice his frustration with the authorities who returned Mr. Savage to the game.
“There is nothing to see here,” Mr. Twellman tweeted “…..Savage has what appears to be a seizure or reaction to a hit returns to game 5 minutes later. Can’t make it up #NFL”
According to USA Today, concussion expert Chris Nowinski, who co-founded and runs the Concussion Legacy Foundation, lashed out at the Texans and NFL for returning Mr. Savage to the game while suffering from a concussion. Mr. Nowinski has called the NFL’s concussion protocol a “fraud,” USA Today reported.
“Disgusted that the @HoustonTexans allowed Tom Savage to return to the game after 2 plays after showing these horrifying #concussion signs (is that a seizure?) after a head impact. I would not let my worst enemy go through the 2017 #NFLsideline concussion protocol… https://twitter.com/TheRenderNFL/status/939936269924225024 …