NFL/NFLPA: Protocol not violated on Chung concussion

A review conducted by the NFL and the NFL Players Association concluded the New England Patriots followed proper procedures in connection to a concussion suffered by safety Patrick Chung during a Week 2 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The review concluded that the team, the unaffiliated neurotrama consultant and the booth independent certified athletic trainer in the booth (ATC spotter) followed proper procedures under the league's concussion protocol.

The league and union found that Chung was not initially displaying concussion symptoms immediately after the hit, which allowed him to re-enter the game for several plays in the second quarter. A short time later, sideline medical staff chose to pull Chung out of the game after seeing him get up slow after a play.

After undergoing a sideline exam, Chung was cleared to return again, but he was re-evaluated by the Patriots' medical staff during halftime. It was during the halftime exam that Chung was displaying potential concussion symptoms and taken out for the remainder of the game.

Here is the NFL-NFLPA joint statement on the review:

The NFL and NFLPA concluded their review of the application of the Concussion Protocol involving New England Patriots' safety Patrick Chung during the Patriots-Jaguars game on September 16. The NFL and NFLPA conducted interviews with relevant Patriots personnel, the game official involved, the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC) and the booth ATC spotter, all of whom fully cooperated in the review.

The interviews established that the booth ATC spotter, booth UNC, sideline medical staff, and the game official each concluded that they did not need to initiate the Protocol. The game official observed that Mr. Chung was slow to get up and therefore removed him from play, but he did not identify a need to trigger the Protocol. Additionally, the unaffiliated medical personnel (booth UNC and booth ATC spotter) reviewed the play, did not identify a mechanism of injury and concluded the player was not exhibiting signs or symptoms suggestive of a concussion and therefore did not initiate the Protocol.

After Mr. Chung returned to the game for several plays, the Patriots' coaching staff observed behavior that warranted a sideline review and the Protocol was triggered. The UNC and team medical staff conducted a sideline evaluation, which per the Concussion Game Day Checklist required a review of the video from the earlier play. Mr. Chung was cleared by the UNC and team medical staff. Subsequently, as is standard practice, the player remained under close observation following the sideline exam. During halftime, Mr. Chung was re-evaluated by the Club's medical staff and the UNC and found to have potential concussion symptoms and therefore was ruled out for the remainder of the game. Mr. Chung had delayed development of concussions symptoms, which is not uncommon, and was removed as soon as that was recognized.

As a result of these findings, the NFL and NFLPA both concluded that the Protocol was not violated. The parties will continue to educate all stakeholders about the Protocol and emphasize conservative care.

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