The NFL regular season is officially underway, and it didn’t even take one full game for the league’s supposedly improved concussion protocol to be exposed as nothing more than a farce. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, the league MVP in 2015, was repeatedly the recipient of major helmet-to-helmet hits by the Denver Broncos. But far more disturbing is the fact that Newton was never taken off the field to be examined for a concussion during the game. So, where did the breakdown occur? In this case, absolutely everywhere it seems. At the very least, it seems Newton should have been taken to the sidelines after the hit on the final drive and given an initial focused neurological examination.
But this issue is much bigger than just one player, and after yet another high-profile failure, it’s time for someone in charge to take action. A joint agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association announced during the offseason allows for both the league and the union to launch an official investigation if it believes that concussion protocols were not followed. Teams can even lose draft picks now if those investigations turn up violations. These are all good deterrents in theory, but they’re useless if they aren’t executed.