Source: 'System failure' by Browns

Updated: December 11, 2011, 4:43 PM ET
By Chris Mortensen | ESPN

The initial review of the Cleveland Browns' handling of quarterback Colt McCoy's concussion Thursday night is being labeled as a "blatant system failure" by a union source because the team's medical staff did not conduct proper testing before sending him back into the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association's chief physicians -- Dr. Elliott Pellman and Dr. Thom Mayer -- have conducted the initial review, sources said, and both the league and the union will continue the process that one source says will "likely" be the catalyst for the placement of independent neurologists at each game site in time for the 2012 season.

Sources said it wasn't until Friday morning that McCoy was administered the mandatory Sport Concussion Assessment Tool review, commonly referred to as SCAT 2, which doctors determined was abnormal. McCoy was sent home to rest. One source involved in the review said it was troublesome that the test was not administered Thursday night, especially given that McCoy's symptoms were evident when the team's public relations staff asked television cameras not to turn on their lights during a postgame interview. Light sensitivity is one of the symptoms associated with concussions.

Browns coach Pat Shurmur insisted McCoy did not show concussion symptoms until after the game and that the team did conduct a sideline exam. Other sources said the initial review shows that the team's medical staff was more attentive to a hand injury that McCoy suffered on the hit from Steelers linebacker James Harrison.

An NFLPA source further maintained the initial review questions whether a thorough sideline assessment known as "Maddocks Score" was conducted. That assessment includes the following questions:

• At what venue are we at today?

• Which half is it now?

• Who scored last?

• What team did you play last?

• Did you win your last game?

The Browns' medical staff has been praised often for following concussion protocol. During Thursday night's game, fullback Owen Marecic and tight end Ben Watson were not allowed to return to the game after being diagnosed with concussion symptoms. Browns linebacker Scott Fujita also praised the team's staff recently for adhering strictly to the concussion guidelines.

But McCoy's father, Brad, a longtime high school football coach, had been critical of the Browns' handling of his son, saying Colt couldn't remember the play that briefly knocked him out of the game.

Chris Mortensen is ESPN's senior NFL analyst. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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