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It is fair to criticize Browns over incident

12/14/2011



Browns president Mike Holmgren said "it's unfair" to criticize the team for the handling of Browns quarterback Colt McCoy.

His reason? A failure in communication. The doctors and trainers didn't know McCoy had taken a helmet-to-helmet hit.

As Holmgren explains it, the medical staff was busy on the sideline attending to other players when McCoy took a helmet-to-helmet shot from Steelers linebacker James Harrison. When the trainers and doctors talked to McCoy, he only complained about his left hand and didn't display signs of a concussion, Holmgren said.

That's why no concussion test was administered. That's why the Browns let a player with a head injury back onto the field only a couple of plays after taking a hit to the helmet.

Whatever way you look at this situation, the Browns were wrong. Based on Holmgren's explanation, there was no intent to do something wrong. No one is accusing the Browns of doing anything malicious. But still, the Browns messed up. Their medical personnel are highly regarded around the league, but they dropped the ball.

In assessing the penalty, referee Ed Hochuli announced it was a helmet-to-helmet hit. There were replays on the scoreboard. You could tell by the way McCoy laid on the ground that something was wrong.

Everyone at Heinz Field knew McCoy took a shot to the head. But the Browns say no one told the doctors or trainers.

"It sounds inconceivable but no one did," Holmgren told reporters Wednesday.

Then, the accountability goes to head coach Pat Shurmur. He had to be one of the people who saw that hit. It was on Shurmur to make the decision to sit McCoy after taking that blow, even if the doctors said he was "good to go."

Holmgren said he didn't think the Browns would be disciplined over the matter. "I don't expect anything to happen in a punitive matter, but it was a good meeting," he said.

Whether the Browns are penalized or not, this is the perfect example on why independent neurologists are needed on the sideline. This mistake was a major one, and the NFL can't allow this to happen again.