Last week’s Carolina Panthers season opener at Denver was a stark reminder that the NFL has a long way to go in protecting players from the ramifications of concussions. The league can talk all they want about the protocol in place to protect players, but protocols do not mean anything if they are not followed.
The NFL failed to protect Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in the opener. Newton appeared to be hit in the head a minimum of four times and remained in the game. The third hit, administered by linebacker Von Miller, was clearly helmet-on-helmet and the referees missed the call. The last hit resulted in a penalty, but it was wiped out by an intentional grounding call on the offense. What makes these events even more dramatic is that Newton was the league’s MVP last season and history tells us that officials usually protects star players.
Newton rose from the field extremely slowly after the last hit. I am sure most viewers were wondering where was the concussion protocol was? Newton was not removed from the game by a trainer. He was not removed from the game by a coach. He was not removed from the game by the neutral sideline concussion expert. Watching Newton, it was hard to believe that no one diagnosed his symptoms. Newton simply kept playing. Of course Newton kept playing. To expect a player to diagnose his own symptoms and remove himself from the game is absurd. Remember, he was just hit in the head and is no condition to make a decision like that. Besides, ever since prep football, athletes are constantly praised for being willing to sacrifice their body for the good of the team.
While all of this was going on, NBC announcer Cris Collinsworth was praising the NFL and their commitment to the concussion protocol and player safety. That is not what I saw on my screen. I saw that the officials did not enforce the rules in place specifically outlawing targeting and helmet-to-helmet hits on defenseless players. I saw that trainers and coaches did not remove Newton for even one play to assess his condition. And why are there concussion specialists on the sidelines if they choose not to assert themselves?
Embattled NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell waited four days to comment on the game. He acknowledged on Monday that the officials missed at least one call. He stated that the league may be looking at some sort of discipline. As usual it took a national outcry for Goodell to respond. This was so bad that it became a national story and Goodell had to respond. Somehow, repeated shots with Broncos players launching at Newton were missed.
The NFL failed miserably in this one. The least that they can do now is to be sure that the illegal hits are disciplined.
Rocky Mountain High
This is a story you may have missed. Especially since it was just released. The story illustrates possible ramifications concerning the legalization of drugs. Colorado State University star runningback Treyous Jarrells abruptly quit the team last season despite being the Rams top returning rusher. Reportedly, there was not any explanation for his decision. It took awhile but the Fort Collins Coloradoan newspaper reported on Monday that Jarrells quit the team to pursue his love of marijuana.
According to the story, Jarrells signed with Colorado State because of Colorado’s legalization of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes. Jarrells did not waste time pursuing his hobby as he holds a medical license to legally grow marijuana in Colorado. He said in his two seasons with the program he played all but one game high. He added that he left the program in September 2015 for fear he’d fail a drug test and lose his financial aid.
The story is almost unbelievable, but the pictures alone confirm his dedication to marijuana. It takes a step-by-step journey through Jarrells’ apartment, which is a makeshift greenhouse. His floor is littered with marijuana stems and there’s a 10-by-10 room that is wall-to-wall Pineapple Express and Blue Haze cannabis. He keeps a .45 caliber pistol on his nightstand and said he used marijuana daily. Jarrells walked away from his team and his education. A prime example of unintended circumstances regarding laws.
I know there are thousands of stories of marijuana keeping teens from playing sports. We never hear of these stories because the potential athletes choose to use instead of playing sports. Jarrells chose to walk away from a life that many dream of. Actually, he used the game to get to a state that legalized the drug he loves.
Photos: Cam Newton after being hit
Treyous Jarrells switches careers