Concussion Watch: NFL Head Injuries in Week 4

October 1, 2013
by Jason M. Breslow Digital Editor

Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley is checked on the field after being injured in an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/David Kohl)

When an NFL player suffers a concussion, league rules prevent him from talking to the media after the game. The thinking goes, the player needs to be resting, not taking questions from reporters. As a result, we often hear little to no detail from players about their head injuries.

That is exactly what makes a new online video from Jermichael Finley about his Week 3 concussion so noteworthy.

To recap, Finley was forced from the game after colliding with Bengals safety George Iloka. The play ended with a scary scene, as Finley attempted to run for the sidelines, staggered for roughly 10 paces, and then fell to the ground. He would eventually walk off the field on his own power.

In the video — which you can watch below — Finley breaks down the play that caused his injury, as well as how the collision left him feeling. “I looked to the sideline,” he says, “All I saw was jerseys. I saw pants, the yellow pants we wear. And I didn’t see no heads or legs. So everybody was decapitated, and my body was just on fire.”

Later in the locker room, Finley says he was told by a team doctor, “You can throw me across this training room if you want, but your butt is not going into that game.’ I said, ‘Actually, I do want to throw you across this locker room right now.’ ”

Finley’s afternoon ended with a difficult phone call from his son. As he explains in the video, “He said, ‘Daddy, I don’t want you to play football anymore.’ That was a little hard to take, hearing a five-year-old, knowing the violence, the intensity of the game, seeing his dad walk off the field like he did.”

Finley is currently going through the league’s concussion protocol. Because the Packers did not play this past Sunday, they did not have to release an injury report. As such, we are keeping Finley on our watch list to see if his concussion is added to the injury report for Week 5.

Watch the video here:


Finley isn’t the only name we’ll be watching for when the Week 5 injury report is released on Friday. Here are five additional players who appeared to suffer concussions during last weekend’s NFL action:

Brian Cushing, Houston Texans

Brian Cushing left the Texans’ Week 4 game with what head coach Gary Kubiak confirmed was a concussion. Cushing exited midway through the third quarter to be evaluated by team trainers. He did not return to play.

The Houston Chronicle reported Monday that Cushing was placed in the league’s concussion protocol, “but looks good to start at San Francisco” in Week 5.

If Cushing does play, his return would mirror a trend found in Concussion Watch analysis of head injuries during the 2012 season. According to the analysis, 2012 saw a total of 171 concussions reported by NFL teams. In 86 cases, an injured player was back on the field for their team’s very next game.

Week 5 injury report status: Concussion, probable to play.

Eric Fisher, Kansas City Chiefs

Eric Fisher, the first overall draft pick in the 2013 draft, left the Chiefs’ Week 4 game with a head injury and did not return.

It’s not clear how Fisher was hurt, but according to NBC Sports he suffered a “mild” concussion.

Week 5 injury report status: Concussion, will not play.

Stephen Hill, New York Jets

In Week 4, Stephen Hill became the second member of the Jets receiving core to go down with a concussion this season. As ESPN reported:

Hill was drilled by Titans safety Michael Griffin on the second play of the game, an underthrown ball that was intercepted by cornerback Alterraun Verner. Surprisingly, there was no flag thrown on the play.

The second-year receiver walked slowly off the field and then left the game to be tested for a head injury. Coach Rex Ryan confirmed his concussion diagnosis the following day.

In Week 1, the Jets lost receiver Jeremy Kerley to a concussion. Kerley missed one game before returning to action.

Week 5 injury report status: Concussion, probable to play.

Rashean Mathis, Detroit Lions

It’s not everyday that doctors for an opposing team shut down a player for a concussion, but that’s what happened to Rashean Mathis in Week 4.

Mathis took a hard hit from Bears running back Matt Forte near the end of the first quarter. Because he was so close to the Chicago sideline, Bears trainers responded to him first.

After returning to his feet, Mathis walked to his own sideline, where he passed an initial concussion test. He passed a second examine at halftime, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“They were like, ‘You’re good,’” Mathis said. “So I ran down the steps, thought I was cleared to play. But then our head guy said that their doctor said you might have went out (of consciousness) for a second; then protocol says you can’t go.”

Addressing the conflicting diagnoses, Lions coach Jim Schwartz told reporters:

Even though he was never diagnosed with a concussion, we just thought it was prudent for him not to go back in the game … Quite honestly, there might have been some teams that might have cleared Rashean to go back in the game. But we erred on the side of caution in that case.


Week 5 injury report status: Head, probable to play.

Deonte Thompson, Baltimore Ravens

Ravens receiver Deonte Thompson suffered a concussion during Week 4 when he was hit by Bills safety Jim Leonhard, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Thompson was hurt in the fourth quarter after hauling in a 33-yard catch along the right sideline. Leonhard was penalized on the play for hitting a defenseless receiver.

“He was good this morning, no headaches, no concussion symptoms,” Coach John Harbaugh said on Monday.  

Week 5 injury report status: Concussion, questionable to play.

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