Richard Sherman On NFL’s Concussion Protocol: ‘That’s Not For Safety, That’s For Public Opinion’
Outspoken Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman says the NFL only pretends to care about players and concussions, claiming what it does isn’t for safety, but merely just an attempt to sway public opinion. If they really did care, Sherman says in a recent interview with Esquire, they’d do away with Thursday night games (as several other players have requested) and institute a real concussion protocol, among other things.
As NFL fans saw this past weekend, the NFL’s current treatment of concussions, a HUGE hot-button issue, once again failed spectacularly when Texans quarterback Tom Savage re-entered the game when anyone with eyes that work could clearly see that he had no business doing so.
It would be one thing if Savage were an outlier, but he is far from it. Colts QB Jacoby Brissett also re-entered a game when he shouldn’t have been allowed to do so. And Seahawks QB Russell Wilson made a mockery of the concussion protocol in their game against the Cardinals.
On Wednesday, New York Giants co-owner John Mara even admitted publicly that “mistakes” have been made.
However, if you ask Richard Sherman, which Esquire did, it’s not so much that mistakes have been made, it’s just that the NFL doesn’t really care.
You took some issue with Thursday night games after your injury.
I know the risk coming out on the field every day, but I took issue with them years ago. I think they [the NFL decision-makers] make it abundantly clear what their priorities are, and obviously safety is not one of their priorities. But it is what it is. Fans are happy with the product. If it means injuries to players, that’s not really their issue.
Has the league made strides on head injuries and how they’re dealt with?
No, the league hasn’t done much outside of appeasing public opinion. Now, you get a hard hit, fine players a bunch of money, suspend guys. But it’s more punishing players than it is player safety, and putting more money into league charities, et cetera. It’s not really changing the game or making it more safe. Obviously there are still players going back into the game after head injuries and after huge collisions. Guys go unreported. But to appease public opinion, and to make the fans continue to watch the game and the product, they went out and made all these rules. Now we have a guy on the sideline. That’s not for safety, that’s for public opinion.
In the case of Tom Savage and Russell Wilson, it sure appears that Sherman is right.
So what happens next?
According to Mara, speaking at the NFL Winter Meeting in Las Colinas, Texas, “…Whenever you’re dealing with human beings there’s going to be mistakes made. And there were mistakes made there. They haven’t completed their investigation yet. But in almost every case with the concussion protocol, we get it right. But those we get wrong end up being highly publicized and that’s what ended up here.”
Mara did admit, however, “There were some breakdowns there which they’re still looking into. You want to be perfect but when you’re dealing with human beings and emotions of the game sometimes mistakes are going to be made.”
Those mistakes certainly do need to be looked into or, as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar very accurately pointed out, the NBA will soon replace the NFL as America’s sports league of the future.
And it’s not just concussions that are a problem for the NFL. When you’ve got stars like J.J. Watt, David Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz, Julian Edelman, Ryan Tannehill, Allen Robinson, Greg Olsen, Dalvin Cook, Odell Beckham Jr., Carson Palmer, Deshaun Watson, Richard Sherman, Chris Thompson, and, god, even Joe Thomas all missing several or even all of the games this season, you’ve definitely got a problem.