Did NCAA Coach Leave Quarterback in the Game After Possible Concussion?
Matt Rhule’s name has come up in the news quite a bit recently as he took the job of Carolina Panthers’ head coach on a 7-year, $60 million contract on January 7, 2020. However, it was an incident a month before that contract in December that brought about scrutiny for the coach.
His time at Baylor University came to an end just a month following the media questioning Rhule’s decision to leave quarterback Charlie Brewer in a high-stakes game against the Oklahoma Sooners following a possible concussion.
Immediately following the game, members of the media and countless online users began to criticize the coach. Many fans felt as though Rhule put the need for a victory above the focus on player safety, which may have left his player dealing with significant problems.
Coaches ignoring concussions has been a long-standing problem in college and pro football, and Coach Rhule is not the first to put a player of his in danger. However, this was a game on a national level with important ramifications. It proved to be one of the biggest reasons a coach would ignore a potential concussion—winning a big game.
Below, we’ll explain what happened in this situation and why it is such a big problem. Brewer is facing even further problems because of multiple injuries he suffered, and it goes to show how even one concussion is enough to put a player at risk of even further harm whenever they’re on a football field. It also shows how referees can play a significant role in helping this situation.
In the second quarter of the Baylor Bears’ game against the Sooners, quarterback Charlie Brewer took a hard hit by a Sooners’ defender. After the play, it took the help of Brewer’s teammates to help him get to his feet. However, while walking to the sideline, Brewer was visibly shaken and wobbly.
The initial thought by all fans who saw the hit and subsequent actions of the quarterback thought that his time in the concussion protocol was inevitable. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Brewer returned to the game.
It took the referees stopping Brewer and removing him from the game for the quarterback to undergo evaluation.
After Brewer returned to the sidelines for a second time, he was officially ruled out of the game. The victory became much less important to the fans of the Bears as their main concern turned to the health of their team’s quarterback and a young student-athlete.
Ahead of the team’s game against the Georgia Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl, Coach Rhule gave an update regarding Brewer’s status, stating that the quarterback was in concussion protocol. He wasn’t practicing, and it was uncertain if he’d even play in the game.
Brewer did end up gaining clearance for the game. He played against Georgia, a game in which he suffered another injury. Onlookers believed it was an apparent head injury, but Coach Rhule announced that it was a concern regarding his neck and spine. Brewer had to be carted off the field.
What’s the Problem?
Like any situation involving concussions in college football, the NCAA is there to implement regulations. The organization requires teams to conduct concussion protocol and evaluation whenever a player is visibly suffering from a head injury. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen, as was the case with Baylor.
Many programs face scrutiny because they allow players to re-enter a game too soon following a possible concussion, which puts the player at risk of significant injuries. A concussion increases the risk of further head injury, as well as the potential of other injuries.
For instance, the symptoms of a concussion can impact cognitive and motor abilities. A player who lacks coordination, balance, or peripheral, they can put themselves in harm’s way. Another big hit can injure the player’s head further, or even other injuries.
When coaches overlook the health of a player with a priority on a potential win, they are responsible for all injuries the player sustains after the concussion. The coach, the school, and potentially the NCAA can face legal ramifications for their actions.
Is There a Long-Term Concern?
Concussions create a significant problem for players. While one concussion may seem like not much of an issue, it increases the risk of other injuries. However, multiple concussions can have a severe impact on a person’s brain.
A player may develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease that has made widespread news over the past few years. Doctors recently found CTE present in many former football players who sustained multiple hits to their head and brain trauma.
CTE has led to major concerns, including changes in behavior, depression, and even suicide.
Is it a Negligent Act?
Many of the lawsuits against the NCAA over the years have mentioned that the organization, programs, and coaches are responsible for the health of their players. When they refuse to abide by that responsibility to care for players, they put them in harm’s way.
They risk severe concussions and fail to operate with safety in mind. They refuse to conduct a concussion protocol. They put the player back in the game much sooner than they should, forcing them back into a position where the player can suffer from a major hit.
Over the long-term, these injuries can build and have lifelong repercussions on a player. At what point, though, is the coaching staff, school, or NCAA responsible for these injuries? At what point are they negligent in their care of student-athletes? At what point can someone who suffers severe injuries hold these parties accountable for their actions?
Many former players have come forward to pursue legal action against the NCAA for their lack of care. Charlie Brewer is the most recent—and a perfect—example of what can go wrong in games. A coach overstepping duties and putting a player back in a game without identifying a severe head injury and removing him from the game to protect the player.
Whenever this happens, the player who suffers an injury should recognize what options they have. After all, when someone suffers a career-threatening injury at the college level, they don’t have the same resources as those in the professional league to get medical treatment for their pain. They need compensation to help cover the significant costs associated with medical care, medication, therapy, and more.
At Shrader & Associates, L.L.P., our team knows the potential dangers of a concussion. We know what harm can come from negligence when coaches refuse to keep players in concussion protocol. Instead, they put players back in the game and at risk of further damage. Our team recognizes how coaches and others are responsible for their players and are subject to legal action in the event the player sustains long-term injuries from the hits to the head.
Our sports concussion lawyers are ready to help you if you need to take legal action for your head injuries. We’ll investigate your situation and determine where you may have the option to hold someone accountable for your harm. Let us be your guide so you can recover properly, living the most comfortable life possible after a severe concussion.
Call our firm today at (877) 958-7920 and speak with someone from our team about your rights. We’ll be by your side every step of the way and go the extra mile to protect your best interests in one of life’s most difficult times.