RENTON The NFL has fined the Seahawks $100,000 for how quickly they allowed Russell Wilson to reenter last month’s game at Arizona after the referee sent the quarterback off the field to be evaluated for a possible concussion.
The league and the NFL Players’ Association announced their joint finding Thursday.
“The NFL and NFLPA have jointly reviewed the application of the Concussion Protocol to Russell Wilson,” the league’s statement read. “The results of the joint review determined there was a failure in the application of the protocol following the tackle of Mr. Wilson during the Seahawks-Cardinals game on November 9.
“As a result, Seattle has been fined $100,000 and the coaching and medical staffs will be required to attend remedial training regarding the protocol.
“The results of the joint review determined that the protocol was triggered when Mr. Wilson was directed to the sideline for an evaluation after the referee, Walt Anderson, concluded that a medical examination was warranted. Nonetheless, the required evaluation was not conducted and Mr. Wilson was permitted to return to the game without an evaluation. Once it is determined that a medical examination is warranted, a player may only be cleared to return by the medical staff; Mr. Wilson’s return to the field without a sideline concussion evaluation was therefore in violation of the Concussion Protocol. Subsequently the team medical staff did examine the player and clear him per the protocol.
“As determined by the NFL and NFLPA, an immediate update will be made to the protocol instructing officials, teammates, and coaching staff to take players directly to a member of the medical team for a concussion assessment. The NFL and the NFLPA will continue to look at potential modifications to the protocols in an effort to keep players safe.”
The team issued a statement accepting the league’s findings, and citing “confusion” on the sidelines during the incident.
On Nov. 9 during the third quarter of a nationally televised Thursday night game at Arizona, Wilson got hit in the chin by the helmet of Cardinals pass rusher Karlos Dansby after throwing a pass. Anderson flagged Dansby for roughing the passer. Then Anderson--and presumably the league-appointed concussion monitor persons stationed in the press box and on each sideline--saw Wilson adjusting his helmet and appearing to feel the side of his head and face. Anderson sent Wilson to the Seahawks’ sideline. Backup quarterback Austin Davis handed the ball off to C.J. Prosise on the next play. Then Wilson re-entered the game and finished the drive.
After the series ended, Seahawks team doctor Edward Khalfayan stood in front of Wilson on the sideline in front of the team’s bench. With the quarterback’s helmet off, the doctor held each side of Wilson’s face along the jaw-bone line for an evaluation. Wilson went into the tent of obscurity for more evaluation. It was brief; he was out of it after maybe a minute or so, and went back to sitting on the bench reviewing his electronic tablet showing Arizona’s defensive alignments.
He then finished Seattle’s 22-16 victory.
“I guess that’s what they decided to do,” Wilson said Thursday before the Seahawks (8-6) practiced for Sunday’s game at Dallas (8-6). “I thought that everything was done in the right way. There was a lot of confusion on why I was coming out of the game anyway.”
The Seahawks and Wilson contend no one on the field made it explicitly clear to them why Wilson was sent off the field.
“I was completely clear,” Wilson said of his mind. “My jaw was messed up, but other than that...that’s what they decided.”
What will Wilson change the next time something like this may happen in a game?
“What should I change?” he said. “More than anything it was just playing ball. I felt completely clear, so there’s nothing really to change, quite honestly.”
His jaw injury from the hit had him on a liquid diet of smoothies and made it tough for him to talk for days following the game.