Concussion Watch: NFL Head Injuries in Week 19

January 15, 2014

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NFL teams entered the second round of postseason play last weekend on notice. Roughly 24 hours before the opening kickoff, the league’s head, neck and spine committee wrote to team doctors and trainers to say that two players had broken with league concussion protocol in Round 1.

According to the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press, one player refused to leave the sideline after being diagnosed with a concussion, while a second player was allowed to re-enter the game. Even though injured players might fight to stay on the field, the committee wrote, league rules are “intended to safeguard the player’s well-being and enhance his ability to recover.”

In the case of Percy Harvin, the message was not enough to prevent the Seahawks receiver from returning from one concussion test on Saturday, only to suffer a second blow to the head minutes later.

Harvin was initially taken to the Seattle locker room on his team’s first possession after an illegal hit by Saints safety Rafael Bush. The play drew a 15-yard personal foul penalty.

Harvin was tested for a concussion, but as Yahoo Sports reported, he emerged from the locker room within minutes and “was back in the game on Seattle’s next offensive play.”

Harvin was soon down again after falling on his head lunging for a pass in the Seattle end zone. He walked to the sideline under his own power, “but looked visibly shaken, stumbling around bit as trainers led him by the arm,” reported The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. For a second time he was evaluated for a concussion, but this time he would not return.

“He was OK the first time, but the second one really rocked him,” said Seattle Coach Pete Carroll on Monday. “Hopefully he’ll be able to make it back for next week.”

In addition to Harvin, at least two other players left games last weekend because of apparent concussions. The Patriots announced on Twitter that receiver Kenbrell Thompkins was pulled from the field because of a head injury, but the team didn’t offer additional details.

Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o also suffered a concussion when his head slammed into the shoulder pad of teammate Jahleel Addae during San Diego’s 24-17 loss to the Broncos. However as we’ve reported before, because the Chargers were eliminated from postseason play, the concussion will not appear on the league’s official injury report.

In all, the FRONTLINE Concussion Watch project has counted 150 head injuries in the NFL this season.

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