Bucs TE Cameron Brate Was Allowed To Play vs Chiefs Despite Having A Concussion; Later Placed In Concussion Protocol

The National Football League really needs to fix it system of how it handles concussions because this is getting ridiculous.

During Week 4’s Sunday Night Football game between the Chiefs and Buccaneers in Tampa, Bucs TE Cameron Brate’s head collided with teammate Chris Godwin’s shoulder as he was running across the field. Brate fell to the ground.

Brate went to the sidelines with discomfort and was checked out and cleared to go back into the game. It wasn’t until halftime when Brate self-reported having symptoms and was then tested for a concussion and placed in the protocol.

“Sunday Night Football” sideline reporter Melissa Stark reported that Brate did exit, then re-enter the game following a “two-minute chat conversation with the [Bucs’] head athletic trainer and team doctor.”

When asked why no one tested Brate for a concussion given the violent nature of the hit, Bowles explained, “He complained about his shoulder, not his head. You can’t see a neurologist or talk about concussions if you only complained about the shoulder. It came up at halftime where he started to have symptoms about his head. So when you say, ‘Your shoulder’s hurting, you need a second for your shoulder.’ Nobody’s really checking off your head. And then you go back in, you find out at halftime that you have symptoms in your head, then you go, ‘Concussion, concussion protocol.’ That’s all you can do, really.”

Former Bucs head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dungy, who was on the sideline working as an analyst for NBC Sports, was critical of Brate going back into the game and called the NFL’s concussion protocol a “broken system.” He also expressed concern as to why play wasn’t stopped by the officials.

The league’s handling of concussions has come under extreme scrutiny in the past week. The NFL and NFL Players Association launched an investigation into the Miami Dolphins’ handling of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who was cleared to play in a Week 4 Thursday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Tagovailoa was cleared to reenter the game by an independent neurologist, and he was cleared to play just four days later, when he was hit again, by Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Josh Tupou on Thursday Night Football, and appeared to exhibit what’s called a “fencing response,” which involves locking the fingers and arms into an unusual position after a blow to the head impacts the brainstem. He left the game on a stretcher.

The independent neurologist who cleared Tagovailoa to play was fired for the NFLPA on Saturday. Tagovailoa is in the concussion protocol and has already been ruled out this week.

The NFL and NFLPA are working on revising the protocol, including language that would prohibit a player from reentering a game if the player showed gross motor instability (a current loophole that exists is if the player and team say the instability was caused by another injury; in Tagovailoa’s case, it was his back). In the meantime, team trainers and independent neurologists were encouraged to err on the side of caution this week.

“It’s always important for players to speak up,” Bowles said. “It’s important for us to see it as well. Obviously, we see a hard hit, somebody upside the head, you want to take a look at it. Some things you don’t see as it’s anywhere around this area right here (points to the collarbone area) that may have delayed reaction with a knee-jerk thing. So player safety’s important for us in this league. We’re not trying to play anybody that’s hurt.”