When referee Walt Anderson sent Russell Wilson to the sideline to be checked for a concussion in Week 10, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback did his best to get back into the game as quickly as possible.
An investigation was launched into the team’s handling of the situation and the Seahawks will be fined $100,000 for it.
“Mr. Wilson was directed to the sideline for an evaluation after the referee, Walt Anderson, concluded that a medical examination was warranted,” the NFL and NFLPA said in a joint statement Thursday. “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.”
Wilson needed to be checked by team medical personnel and an independent neurotrauma consultant on the sideline, but cameras showed the quarterback went into the medical tent and walked back out as quickly as possible:
Wilson returned to the field and was sent off again by Anderson to be checked more thoroughly. Ultimately, he wasn’t diagnosed with a concussion and said that checking his jaw after a sack by Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby was what caused the confusion.
"I was just trying to move my jaw. I was like, 'Ah, man, it's stuck,'" Wilson told reporters after the game. "I think I was kinda like laying down on the ground for a second just trying to get my jaw, and I think Walt thought maybe I was injured or something like that. I told him I was good, I was good, and he said, 'Come off the field.'
"I think Walt did a great job first of all. He made the smartest decision. I was fine, though, 100 percent fine. And then they finally went over through the whole concussion stuff and all that. We went through every question you could imagine, and I answered even some more for them just so they knew I was good, and then went back in there."
The Seahawks will not try to appeal the fine, though they denied skirting the league’s concussion protocol on purpose.
The NFL is also currently investigating the Houston Texans for the team’s handling of a head injury Tom Savage suffered in Week 14 against the 49ers.
Moving forward, there will also be a slight change to the concussion 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.”
Seattle has been in trouble in the past for skirting NFL rules and was docked a fifth-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft for excessive contact during offseason training activities. Not following the concussion protocol could result in a lost draft pick too, but for now it’s just a significant fine.