DeVante Parker is helped off the fieldImage: Getty Images
A player requesting medical attention for an injured teammate is nothing new. Lawrence Taylor called for it after seeing what happened to an opponent’s leg.
Yes, some players drive themselves into a foaming-at-the-mouth insanity to psychologically prepare for the physical battle they will be participating in, but they can be jerked out of it upon seeing a broken body part.
That doesn’t happen often with head injuries. It’s only in the last 12-13 years that such injuries in football have even been taken seriously. For decades, players were left on the field with blurred vision and grogginess because part of the game was letting their “bell ring.” Today, NFL games have trained professionals watching the game from a high vantage point. These people watch the game with the sole aim of removing a player if they exhibit these symptoms.
These pros were badly missing in the New England Patriots’ 27-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night. DeVante Parker’s head ricocheted off the State Farm Stadium turf and he had to be stabilized by one of his offensive linemen. The Patriots were running a rush offense, so he instinctively rushed to the line of scrimmage. Fortunately, Nelson Agholor noticed that his teammate was correct. He frantically signaled to the sidelines to get medical help.
Parker was eventually placed on a concussion protocol. It was reported Tuesday that the NFL and NFLPA are investigating why he wasn’t removed from the game. You’re not the only ones with questions. Parker apparently has some too.
His words were much stronger in an Instagram Story post that begins: “Do your damn job @NFL.”
After Tua Tagovailoa’s frightening fencing reaction in Week 4, the standards for pulling a player off the field should be stricter. Any indication that a player is stumbling after a shot and should be investigated immediately.
Perhaps the Patriots played a game too fast for spotters to notice, but it definitely didn’t escape the attention of the person standing next to him. The person who noticed it has no professional medical training. In fact, he’s been professionally trained through memorization to be instantly ready to sprint to a position and figure out what to do next by responding to a signal. A shaky teammate disrupted this man’s concentration.
Head injuries are complicated. We should especially applaud Agholor for turning off autopilot to save quickly, and Parker too. Players are trained to play at all costs, but here is someone who expresses concern that he has not been properly taken care of while in a vulnerable state.
Unfortunately, in a sport where head injuries are as much a part of the game as offside penalties, mistakes are made. But what is promising about this particular situation is that the actors involved are drawing attention to it.
It’s not their job to detect head injuries. This is not something agents can use to a player’s advantage in contract negotiations. However, if they are more vocal about the protocols being followed, it will absolutely lead to even fewer mistakes being made in those moments.