Alex Smith will sit out this weekend’s game against Jacksonville Jaguars game as a precaution after he left last Sunday’s game twice after head hits where he hit the turf on slides. Smith re-entered the game on Sunday after passing the initial concussion protocol, even though the hit looked like it should be of major concern. Smith did not return after the second time his head hit the turf, though he reportedly passed the concussion test again.
On Monday, head trainer Rick Burkholder said that Alex Smith did not have a concussion after either hit.
“We don’t think that in either episode he had a concussion,” head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder said of Smith, who will continue to undergo testing this week. “I know there was some confusion yesterday.”
***“The confusion came from this — that the first time we said he was returning after being in the protocol,” Burkholder said. “The second time, he was in the middle of the protocol … and we wanted to let the media know that he wasn’t coming back out. So I said to Ted that he was out with a concussion, when the reality was he was out and he was in the middle of the concussion protocol.”
“I’m not getting caught up in what are we calling this, you know, by the NFL, and by the doctors, by their terms of it, I passed everything after the second one even. Was it nothing? We’re not saying that. I’m not. Certainly I watched the film, and there are a few seconds obviously of laying there. And I’ve been playing a long time, I’ve got three little kids. You only get one brain as far as I know.
This puts us in a very interesting position. By the league’s standards, Smith is okay. He cleared the protocol cognitive questions after the two hits. He met the minimum standards to return.
Common sense, though, tells us that something happened to Smith, and it looked serious when watching live. As Smith says when not wanting to get caught up in what to call it, it wasn’t nothing. Here, we have a quarterback who is going by the increasing wisdom that taking further hits while in a potentially injured state is dangerous, even if the league’s standards have been met.
Smith’s injury also raises the questions of whether the quick cognitive tests are sufficient when there has been a hit, that by the clear observation of it, raise major concerns about the player’s health. Here, we have a player and an organization saying that they are imposing a higher standard. That’s not always the case.