What happened in Tampa was the last thing the NFL, its players and its fanbase needed just days after Tua Tagovailoa’s horrifying head injury.
Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate sat out the second half of Sunday night’s 41-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs with a concussion after colliding with a teammate, but only after he was allowed back into the game.
Brate was shaken up just before halftime after catching a pass for a 9-yard gain and colliding with Bucs receiver Chris Godwin. He stayed down in obvious pain before heading for the sideline. Brate re-entered the game and was Tom Brady’s intended receiver on multiple incompletions just before halftime.
On the latest episode of his Let’s Go! podcast, Tom Brady told Jim Gray that head injuries are an inevitable element of a physical sport.
“I think those (protocols) are all being evaluated, no doubt,” Brady said. “But at the same time, again, I think so much is focused kind of on the aftermath of that.
“What can we do in advance in order to help us athletes be in a position where we can deal with the physical elements of sports? Because you’re not going to be able to take them out of sports. That’s just not the reality.”
Coach Todd Bowles said after the game that Brate was in the concussion protocol but was unable to explain why he was allowed to re-enter the game with a head injury. The next day, the head coach said it was because Brate experienced delayed symptoms of a concussion.
“Broken system,” tweeted Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, who was in attendance in his role as analyst for NBC’s “Football Night in America.”
“I was on the sideline very close to Brate-obvious he had his bell rung,” Dungy continued. “There’s a league appointed spotter in the press box who should stop play & alert the referee. Brate shouldn’t have been allowed to return until after an evaluation. Why didn’t that happen???”
Dungy added, “Coaches, team doctors and game officials are all watching play and can all step in. But the league appointed spotter has the ability to buzz the referee, stop the game and mandate that player leave the game to be evaluated—no penalty or timeout charged to the team.”
Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion was topic No. 1 across the NFL heading into Sunday’s slate of games, and coaches across the league spoke about safety being the game’s top priority.
“No one ever wants to see anyone get hurt, no one ever wants to see anyone injured, no one ever wants to see a concussion … but they happen,” Brady added. “And I think, how do we deal with them in the best possible way? What are the best practices associated with prevention of them, as well as, if you do get them, how do you recover as quickly as possible?”
Brady then urged more education to help players avoid chronic pain as much as possible.
“You have to allocate time to prevention,” he said. “It’s not necessarily the way that humans are wired, though. Humans don’t want to take time in advance to prevent something that could become a problem in the future.”
Given what happened to Tagovailoa, everybody should’ve been on high alert.