Concussions are again in the spotlight for the Premier League, this time after a series of nasty-looking incidents in the marquee Manchester United/Arsenal match Sunday afternoon. Last weekend Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris took a vicious knee to the head, yet finished up the final 12 minutes of the match despite losing consciousness according to manager Andre Villas-Boas.
On Sunday Manchester United’s Phil Jones knocked heads with Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny trying to win a ball inside the Gunners’ penalty box. Both players went to the ground dazed, but remained in the game after the medical staff looked them over.
A few minutes later Manchester United keeper David De Gea smashed into teammate Nemanja Vidic with a jumping thigh straight to the defender’s noggin. This one looked much worse. The fearsome Serbian defender was prone on the ground for a while. When he finally got up he spit out a gob of blood and looked glassy-eyed. Fortunately Vidic was subbed off at halftime, avoiding a repeat of the Lloris situation.
Of course sitting at home on the couch watching the game hardly qualifies anyone to diagnosis a potential concussion or brain injury, but this is two straight weeks the Premier League — the most popular league in the world — has seen prominent players suffer blows to the head and stay in the game. It’s not a good look coming from across the Atlantic where brain trauma is such a prominent issue in regard to our version of football.
Fortunately a week after the Lloris incident it appears as if a little progress has been made since Vidic wasn’t cleared to press on for the final 45 minutes.
As we’ve seen time and time again with the NFL, the old time-honored tenets of toughness and machismo should be thrown out the window when we’re talking about potential brain injuries. It’s not worth the risk of long-term consequences.
One suggestion? Perhaps there could be a rule if a player if forced to leave a game with a suspected concussion it doesn’t count against your three substitutions. Coaches might be less stubborn about leaving a possibly concussed player on the field knowing it wouldn’t cost them a sub.