Tom Savage’s Debacle Shows NFL’s Handling Of Concussion Is Disgraceful

The Houston Texas quarterback exhibited a “fencing response” — “an unnatural position of the arms following a concussion,” after he was hit.



Once again the NFL proves it does not care about its players’ injuries — and let’s not pretend otherwise.

Houston Texas quarterback Tom Savage took a hard hit on the head after San Francisco 49ers Elvis Dumervil plowed into him during a game at NRG Stadium in Houston. The video showed Savage’s head snapping back and hitting the turf.

Undeniably stunned, the quarterback turned on his side with his arms bent in front of him and his hands shaking uncontrollably. He was able to stand up after a few minutes and allowed an official to check him.

But what happened next was a flagrant disregard by the NFL for a player’s health. Despite the fact the official on the field recognized something had gone wrong, Savage was allowed to go back to the field. However, his symptoms, which hinted at concussion, were noticed by doctors and he was pulled out once again from the game. This time they realized how badly the player was injured and he stayed out of the game.


Two experts said Savage did not have a seizure but they both said the quarterback exhibited clear signs of a concussed head and should have been pulled from the field the moment he got hit.

The quarterback exhibited a “fencing response” — “an unnatural position of the arms following a concussion.” The Texans sidelines have video reviewing devices and there is always a trained spotter in the press box at every game. So there was no way they could have failed to notice Savage’s body giving the whole stadium a loud and clear warning about what was happening to him — and yet, it was completely ignored.

The lapse is inexcusable. But sadly, this is a recurring pattern during NFL matches.

The league’s handling of head injuries is laughable if it weren’t so tragic. The NFL neurologists allowed a concussed player to get back in the game and failed in their duty to protect the athlete’s well being. It can be argued that some players develop symptoms of concussion much later after the trauma, which can be difficult to diagnose. But this was not the case with Savage.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the 27-year-old footballer was the one who insisted he wanted to get back on the field. It’s understandable since Savage had already lost his starting spot earlier this season. However, there should be measures in place to to save a player from his own foolishness — but there were not.

The type of move that knocked Savage isn’t new and nor is the resulting trauma from those hits. However, what’s changed this season is the growing awareness that the long-lasting trauma inflicted by the sports is not something that should be taken lightly.

Experts have been shouting for years there is a link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — a degenerative neurological disease that is responsible for players dying younger or ending their own lives.

In July, The New York Times ran a bombshell report detailing finding by Boston University that found CTE in the brains of 110 to 111 former NFL players.

However, the NFL only grudgingly acknowledged the link last year. And it seems it is still reluctant to reduce the risks.






Banner/Thumbnail credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY via REUTERS

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