NFL Top Doc Lauds Wentz
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The NFL’s chief medical officer called Carson Wentz “heroic” for reporting his concussion symptoms during the Eagles' 17-9 playoff loss to Seattle when talking with The Associated Press.
“I think what Carson Wentz did is heroic and should be highlighted as an example of how an unbelievably skilled and competitive athlete understands the seriousness of concussion injury and is willing to honestly report it and receive the care that he needs independent of his desire and drive to continue to participate in the game,” Dr. Allen Sills told The AP on Thursday.
Wentz was injured by a helmet-to-helmet hit by the Seahawks' Jadeveon Clowney in Philadelphia's second offensive drive of the game. The QB stayed in to finish the series before reporting an issue to backup Josh McCown on the sideline. After being evaluated on-field in the medical tent, Wentz was ultimately taken into the locker room and failed the NFL's concussion protocol.
Philadelphia remained competitive with the 40-year-old McCown at the controls but ultimately came up short after failing twice in the red zone late in the contest.
During the game, many believed that the league's independent spotters flagged Wentz to be evaluated but that's not the case and Sills downplayed the thought that the system failed.
“Video identification of (symptoms) is one part of a concussion identification," Sills explained. "You’re not going to see things like amnesia or confusion on video, and that’s why all the other elements of detection are really important.”
As for those who believe Wentz should have fought through the injury as many from prior generations may have done, Sills pressed the advancement of education surrounding head injuries.
“Having a concussion and playing through it is not about toughness," the doctor assessed. "That’s demonstrating a lack of understanding of the severity of the injury. So I applaud Carson Wentz for understanding how serious this injury is and for getting appropriate care that he needs.”
Earlier in the season Eagles linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill hid concussion symptoms to stay in a game against Miami and coach Doug Pederson called that "a selfish act."
"We know how important head and neck injuries are to our league and to just the person, the player himself and the well-being of the player," Pederson said at the time. "So from that standpoint, to have this come back like this and for him to admit what he has said and done, it's very disappointing for me as a head coach, after putting our players through meetings and instructing our players."
Pederson played in the culture where players were almost expected to fight through issues like this but acknowledged the changes in the game.
"Our game has changed since I played and maybe then you could [play]," he said. "But now, there's too many things in place, too many protocols, too many standards that we as coaches and as players, we're trying to protect our game and the well-being of every player.
"In a sense, it's a little bit of a selfish act to take it upon yourself and make that decision when he could have gotten checked out right away. ... "Yeah, I'm disappointed."
Wentz got that message.
“I just applaud him for setting the example that we want all players to follow,” Sills said of Wentz. “The Eagles medical staff acted immediately and appropriately as soon as they were aware of the diagnosis. They didn’t treat this player any differently than they would have a backup or if this was a preseason game. Our concussion protocol and our care is the same in every single game, no matter who the player is or what the situation or what the implications are.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen