Chiefs' Charles passes battery of concussion tests
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jamaal Charles has passed a battery of tests and does not show symptoms of a concussion, the Chiefs said Wednesday - one day after the star running back told a radio show he saw "light bulbs" after a hit in Kansas City's win over San Diego.
Charles took a vicious blow from Brandon Flowers when he dove into the end zone in the Chiefs' 23-20 victory Sunday. Flowers received a concussion from the collision and missed the rest of the game, but Charles popped up and trotted off the field, where he was met by team trainers. He played the rest of the game.
But Tuesday, he told ESPN Radio that he saw "light bulbs around my eyes" a few plays later, and that he avoided going through the NFL's concussion protocol.
"It wasn't a concussion. If it was a concussion, I wouldn't remember the plays or remember none of my teammates' names or remember what sideline to go to," Charles said during the interview. "I definitely remember everything. It was just a huge hit."
The Chiefs did not make Charles available to reporters Wednesday, and Chiefs coach Andy Reid refused to address the situation, though he did say he believes most players will tell the training staff if they suspect they have a concussion.
"These guys are pretty honest guys," Reid said. The team also said they would monitor Charles for a couple of days.
"We're not classifying him having a concussion, but as with all of our players we'll monitor him as it goes," head trainer Rick Burkholder said.
In the past few years, concussions have become a major story line in the NFL. Numerous former players have filed lawsuits alleging the league failed to properly handle head injuries, and traumatic brain injuries have been linked to the suicides of several players. Among them is Jovan Belcher, a former teammate of Charles who killed his girlfriend and himself two years ago.
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After the Chiefs learned of the radio interview, they called Charles into the team facility Tuesday night and began testing him, Burkholder said. The Chiefs also consulted with neurological experts at the University of Pittsburgh and had the team doctors examine Charles.
Burkholder said the three-time Pro Bowler passed all of the tests.
"When he got hit, I obviously checked with him," he said. "I know coach talked to him a bit there. I came back and consulted with the team physician; he was absolutely asymptomatic, wasn't complaining about anything. ... obviously, we check on those guys as they come off the field almost every series. I know coach spent time with him on the plane after the game."
Burkholder also said Charles went through his normal weightlifting program Monday and still showed no signs of a concussion. He didn't think anything was amiss until he heard about the interview.
Charles was diagnosed with a concussion early in last year's playoff loss to Indianapolis. He pleaded with the Chiefs to let him continue, but wound up missing most of the game.
"I don't think I had to go through the concussion protocols and all that," Charles said Tuesday. "I didn't want to go through that again because of what happened in the playoffs. I was definitely fine."
Burkholder said the Chiefs used baseline tests as well as the results from last year's concussion to compare with the new test results.
The tests included SCAT3, the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool used by most professional sports leagues; ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing), which uses a series of computerized evaluation measures; and the ICE Exam, which is the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's initial concussion evaluation test.