Texans won’t be disciplined for letting Tom Savage play with concussion
The Houston Texans came under heavy scrutiny in Week 14 when they allowed Tom Savage to re-enter a game against the San Francisco 49ers after he clearly suffered a head injury, but the team will not face disciplinary action over the situation.
On Friday, the NFL and NFL Players Association announced that the Texans’ medical staff followed the league’s concussion protocol. Changes have since been made to the protocol, with the league saying in a statement that the outcome with Savage was “unacceptable and therefore further improvements in the protocol are necessary.”
“The review showed that following a hard tackle, Mr. Savage was immediately removed from the game and evaluated for a concussion,” the statement read. “The Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant (“UNC”) and team physician reviewed the initial broadcast video, saw the play and Mr. Savage’s response and followed the Protocol by performing a complete sideline concussion evaluation on Mr. Savage, which he passed. The slow-motion video, which focused more directly on the fencing posture, was not broadcast until after the doctors had begun the sideline evaluation and thus was not seen by the medical staff prior to the evaluation. The Texans medical staff continued to monitor Mr. Savage after the initial evaluation and shortly after his return to the game, identified symptoms that had not been present during the sideline evaluation and took him to the locker room for further evaluation.”
Savage took a brutal hit from 49ers defensive lineman Elvis Dumervil near the end zone, and he could be seen shaking and seemingly having spasms after the play. Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said after the game that he never would have allowed Savage to return had he seen the video. The quarterback was later diagnosed with a concussion.
Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer, told Ian Rapoport of NFL Media that the Texans followed the concussion protocol as it existed at the time.
“Now, we’ve gone back and done some things, made these changes,” Sills explained. “The outcome was unacceptable. So, while they followed the protocol, the outcome was unacceptable and we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The new changes include having an Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant monitor all games for “no-go” criteria, which would prevent a player from re-entering a game without a locker room evaluation.
The Seahawks recently became the first team to be fined for not following the NFL’s concussion protocol, but that situation was different. Russell Wilson was sent off the field by an official to be evaluated, and he blew off the evaluation and was allowed to come back into the game.