The NFL and NFLPA finally concluded their review of the potential concussion protocol violations stemming from DeVante Parker’s head injury sustained during the Patriots game in Arizona. They released a joint statement on Friday revealing details of their investigation, leading many to question the league’s practices and legitimacy again.
When the incident occurred during New England’s week 14 game, there was a lot of speculation regarding how the situation unfolded in the way it did.
The play occurred late in the first quarter, with Parker taking a hard hit and appearing off-balance when he got back to his feet. Cole Strange immediately took notice and attempted to help stabilize him as the receiver lined up for the next play. Fellow receiver Nelson Agholor then tried to gain the attention of medical professionals and coaches on the sideline, attempting to make it known that Parker was clearly not fit to continue in the game at that moment.
Because the concussion spotters did not seem aware of Parker’s injury, the officials were not alerted to pause the game. Instead, the clock only stopped because Kliff Kingsbury threw a challenge flag to have the previous play reviewed.
Parker was finally taken to the sideline and into the blue medical tent to be evaluated upon reviewing the play. He was ruled out of the rest of the game shortly after that and has not participated in a game since.
Although all of this was seen by those in attendance of the game and those watching at home, the statement put out by the NFL and NFLPA concluded that proper protocol had been followed and that the concussion spotters had not had enough time to vocalize the need for a medical timeout, and were just mere seconds away from doing as when Kingsbury’s challenge stopped the game clock.
"“The documents and interviews established that one of the spotters was engaged with the Patriots’ medical staff regarding a prior injury when the play occurred. The other certified athletic trainer spotter observed the play as it occurred, heard the broadcasters’ commentary in real time, and immediately informed his colleague of the need to review the play for a potential head injury.During the approximately 20 seconds that elapsed before the play was stopped, both spotters requested the replay, reviewed that game video to confirm the player exhibited post-injury behavior, and concluded a mandatory evaluation was necessary. The spotters were in the process of calling a Medical Timeout when play was stopped due to the Cardinals throwing a challenge flag. The spotters then advised the Patriots medical staff that the player required a concussion evaluation pursuant to the Protocol.The club’s medical staff removed the player from the field and evaluated him, together with the Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant. As required under the Protocol, the spotters’ booth provided injury video to the sideline medical personnel, who diagnosed the player with a concussion. The parties are satisfied that the player would not have participated in another play even if the Cardinals had not challenged the play.”"
Despite their apparent satisfaction with how the spotters performed their duties, most who saw the play were unhappy with the statement.
Given the mistakes made this season in handling Tua Tagovailoa’s head injuries, along with their subsequent scapegoating and clearing of any wrongdoing, the NFL has not earned a trusting reputation with their treatment of these injuries or investigations. Other than fans expressing their criticism of the events this season, Parker posted how he felt his injury was dealt with on his Instagram the day after the game, along with a tweet requesting the league provide an explanation.
It is unknown if Parker is content with the league’s findings. But because of his immediate posts after the incident on social media, it’s fair to assume it’s unlikely that he agrees with what they released.