The Browns got some ‘splainin’ to do! Last night team president Mike Holmgren admitted that the team did not follow proper protocol in checking starting quarterback Colt McCoy for post-concussion symptoms following a vicious hit by Steelers linebacker Jame Harrison. Holmgren’s explanation came a day after a meeting between representatives from the Browns, NFL medical staff, and the NFL players association, and included an explanation that the team’s medical staff did not realize the severity of McCoy’s status at the time. The helmet-to-helmet blow resulted in a one game suspension for the former NFL defensive player of the year, who has been fined more than $100,000 over the years for hits deemed to be illegal by the league.
The fall out from this will be a critical test for Goodell, and the league’s, credibility for several reasons. The Browns spent the first six days after the injury claiming that they did follow proper protocol, so it’s obvious that they were trying to cover their own asses. The NFL crack down on player safety that has resulted in a number of questionable fines this year for players, has forced the league to take an equally hard stance on teams and the personnel responsible for monitoring the health and safety of their own players.
NFL specifics aside, we have all watched the NBA clumsily handle the Chris Paul trade situation, and seen how quickly a commissioner can lose credibility with the general public. Goodell is already on shaky ground with a number of fans for his seemingly arbitrary handling of personal conduct and player safety, so anything short of a meaningful fine for the Browns – and the possible suspension of members of the team’s medical staff – will only put Goodel in the David Stern zone, not a place that any commissioner wants to be right now.