The St. Louis Rams were not punished for their handling of the concussion suffered by Case Keenum in a game against the Baltimore Ravens, but NFL Players Association president Eric Winston thinks they should have been.
Keenum, 27, was slammed to the turf by Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and was visibly concussed when his head bounced off the ground. The quarterback immediately grabbed his head and struggled to get back to his feet.
On Tuesday, Winston told USA Today that the Rams should be punished for a "complete failure to adhere to the protocol."
"Show me someone that says, 'No, the Rams did exactly the right thing.' They didn't. Everybody knows they didn't. So, there has to be discipline then, right? Because when a player doesn't do something that he's supposed to do, he gets fined for that when it comes to health and safety."
The NFL made strides in player safety during the offseason by approving a measure that allows independent athletic trainers acting as spotters to order a medical timeout if they believe a player should be evaluated for a concussion. Through 12 weeks of the 2015 season, the results have been spotty, at best.
In a game on Sunday, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger removed himself from a close game against the Seattle Seahawks after telling team trainers about a hit to the head. He was taken to the locker room and was diagnosed with a concussion, but has since passed a concussion test and is expected to be ready to play in Week 13.
"I have played through many injuries but the brain is not an injury you want to play with," Roethlisberger said Tuesday on Pittsburgh's 93.7 The Fan. "I didn't feel right, it doesn't make you less of a man or a football player to come out of the game."
While Winston said that players like Roethlisberger self-diagnosing shows that concussion awareness efforts are working, it shouldn't be the player's responsibility to ask for evaluation.
"You might just be on overdrive," Winston said. "You're in the middle of a situation, you're thinking 'I've got to get up and starting running.' It's not - it can't be on the players. If you look at the protocols, it's not on the players to stop the game."
Keenum's injury kept him out of action in Week 12, but one day after it happened, the NFL announced it would investigate the circumstances that allowed the quarterback to continue to play, although it was reported on Sunday that the Rams wouldn't face any punishment for their handling of the situation. The NFLPA is still investigating the incident.