The NFL says all indications are the Oakland Raiders followed proper protocol in handling Terrelle Pryor’s concussion Monday.
The NFL Players Association and Pryor’s camp isn’t convinced just yet.
As reported first on FOX Sports Live on Tuesday, the NFLPA is investigating why Pryor wasn’t examined for a concussion immediately after getting hit hard by Denver Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard in the fourth quarter of Denver’s blowout victory.
Raiders coach Dennis Allen said he spoke to Pryor after the play and the quarterback showed no signs of a concussion. However, during a lengthy delay while officials reviewed whether Pryor’s knee was down before he fumbled, Pryor was pacing around the field, away from the rest of his offensive teammates who were in a pseudo-huddle in the middle of the field. Pryor, who stayed down for seven seconds after Woodyard’s hit, then walked toward the Broncos, where he exchanged a fist pound with Woodyard.
After the game, FOX Sports asked Woodyard if Pryor appeared to be concussed during their brief conversation. Instead of answering, Woodyard laughed. Asked if that was a yes, Woodyard laughed again before finally saying unconvincingly, "Nah, he didn’t show any signs," then laughed again.
Raiders trainers and doctors didn’t come out to examine Pryor. Allen admitted Tuesday doctors didn’t check on Pryor until the series was over — two plays and several minutes after Woodyard made helmet-to-helmet contact in a hit that probably should’ve drawn a flag.
According to the NFL’s head, neck and spine committee’s protocol for diagnosing and managing concussions, a "mandatory" examination is supposed to occur when a player is "slow to get up following a hit to the head." The protocol also states that, when "a player sustains a mechanism of injury (‘big hit’) that is reasonably expected to give rise to a concussion," he is to be "removed immediately from the field by Club medical personnel."
The NFL’s handling of concussions has improved in recent years, particularly following an incident in 2011 in which Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy was allowed to return to a game after sustaining a concussion. Last year, there was some controversy over why Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler wasn’t pulled from a game following a big hit against the Houston Texans. Cutler was later determined to have had a concussion, though the league stated proper protocol was followed in that case.
It can be difficult to determine whether a player is concussed during continuous action. However, in Pryor’s case, the Raiders had several minutes to check on him — time in which he was clearly still smarting from the hit by Woodyard.
Why Pryor didn’t receive treatment is a question which the NFLPA and Pryor’s representatives would like answered by the NFL, the Raiders’ medical staff and the independent concussion expert on hand for the game.