NEW YORK – The NFL is changing how it handles concussion examinations after Browns quarterback Colt McCoy went back into a Dec. 8 game without being tested for one.
A certified athletic trainer, paid by the league, will be at each game to monitor play and provide medical staffs with "any relevant information that may assist them in determining the most appropriate evaluation and treatment," the NFL said in a statement Wednesday. The trainers will not diagnose nor prescribe treatment and can't order that players be removed from a game.
Their presence is intended to assist team medical staffs in addressing a variety of injuries.
The trainer's "role will be to provide information to team medical staffs that might have been missed due to a lack of a clear view of the play or because they were attending to other players or duties," the statement said.
The trainer will be in a booth upstairs with access to video replay and direct communication to the medical staffs of both teams.
"In most cases, the athletic trainer will be affiliated with a major college program in the area or will have previously been affiliated with an NFL club," the league said.
The league and each team are in the process of selecting the trainers.
Also, team medical staffs will be permitted to use cell phones during games to gather information relating to the care of an injured player. This is not limited to concussions.
McCoy was hurt on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Steelers linebacker James Harrison late in Pittsburgh's win. He returned to the game after missing just two plays without being examined for a concussion.
The quarterback wasn't tested until after the game, when he was diagnosed with a concussion. McCoy is still experiencing symptoms and hasn't played since.
The Browns said McCoy wasn't showing symptoms of a concussion during the game, so they didn't test him. Team doctors were treating other players and didn't see the impact from Harrison's vicious hit. Harrison later was suspended for one game for being a repeat offender and returned to practice Wednesday after missing a loss at San Francisco.
The NFL said the Browns would not be disciplined for their handling of the situation.
"Clubs also were reminded of the importance of team coaching and medical staffs continuing to work together to ensure that full information is available at all times to medical staffs," the NFL's statement said, "that players do not take steps to avoid evaluations, and that concussions continue to be managed in a conservative and medically appropriate way."