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Browns President Mike Holmgren: QB Colt McCoy was not tested for concussion on sideline Thursday night; medical staff didn't see Steelers LB James Harrison's big hit

By Nate Ulrich Published: December 14, 2011
Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren speaks about quarterback Colt McCoy's concussion during a news conference at the NFL football team's headquarters in Berea, Ohio Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011. Holmgren says McCoy was not checked for a concussion while he was on the sideline after helmet-to-helmet hit by Pittsburgh's James Harrison. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Browns President Mike Holmgren met with reporters today to discuss the way the team handled quarterback Colt McCoy's concussion this past Thursday night at Heinz Field. Here are some of the highlights from the news conference:

  • Holmgren said McCoy was not tested for a concussion on the sideline before re-entering the game Thursday night after he absorbed a helmet-to-facemask hit from Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison with about six minutes left in the fourth quarter of the the Browns' 14-3 loss. The team's medical personnel did not see Harrison's hit on McCoy because they were working on other players on the sideline, Holmgren said. The league has an observer at each game who's supposed to alert medical personnel if he spots a player with an injury who might otherwise be overlooked, but the designated observer didn't phone the Browns because he saw the team's medical staff attending to McCoy, Holmgren said. "His job is to look for players that are not being treated," Holmgren said. "That's what they put him in the box to do. So he goes, 'That's my job and so these guys are taking care of this.'"

  • For the past couple of days, the Browns' medical staff, Holmgren and General Manager Tom Heckert met with representatives of the NFL and the NFL Players Association to discuss the incident involving McCoy, Holmgren said. "I think it was a very healthy meeting," Holmgren said. ... "It wasn't a condemnation of how we handled the situation. It was, 'OK. You had this information. This is how you did it. They're competent. We're good doctors. They're doing it right. Would it have helped to have a little more information? Perhaps. How do we get that information to the doctors?' Those kind of things. So that was really what the meeting was about." Holmgren said he expects changes to be made to the league's policies and procedures for handling concussions. "The first step that I would like to see is just to be able to alert your sideline personnel if they did not see the play, somehow have a mechanism where you could alert somebody to get to them and say, 'This is what happened,'" Holmgren said. ... "I'm never gonna be able to tell a doctor to do his job. But if someone could just say hey, 'This is what the hit was.' Now he has more information." McCoy was not involved in the meetings, and Holmgren has not talked to McCoy, Holmgren said. The idea of assigning an independent neurologist to each game was discussed in the meetings, Holmgren said.

  • In the meetings, Holmgren said the Browns explained that their medical personnel didn't see McCoy get hit by Harrison because they were working on other injured players in the bench area. When the team's medical staff reached McCoy on the field, he was not unconscious, Holmgren said. McCoy complained about his left hand, but he did not immediately exhibit any symptoms of a concussion. "Their reaction to the way Colt was acting, it did not dictate (the standard Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2 test)," Holmgren said. "They had not seen the play, and he was talking, answering, looking out on the field, knew how much time was left, so his responses following our normal protocols or protocols in the league did not dictate that they administer the test." Browns head trainer Joe Sheehan told coach Pat Shurmur that McCoy was ready to re-enter the game. McCoy was not tested for a concussion until after the game, Holmgren said. He passed the test, but he also told a team doctor that he was startled by a loud noise in the locker room. The Browns then began following the procedures for treating a concussion. McCoy then asked a Browns spokesman to tell TV cameramen to turn off the lights on their cameras, Holmgren said. None of the doctors representing the league or the players' union has said McCoy should not have taken the team's flight home after the game, Holmgren said.

  • Holmgren said he doesn't expect the Browns to be punished by the league for the way they handled McCoy's concussion. McCoy was sent home today. "He still has a headache," Holmgren said. "But other than that, from what they tell me, he's good."


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