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December 10, 2011

Colt McCoy's Dad Rips Browns for Playing Him After Hit: Brad McCoy, the dad and former high school coach of Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, said he should never have been allowed back in the game Thursday night after the vicious head shot by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison. "He was basically out (cold) after the hit," Brad McCoy said. "There were a lot of easy symptoms that should've told them he had a concussion. He was nauseated and he didn't know who he was. From what I could see, they didn't test him for a concussion on the sidelines." Browns coach Pat Shurmur said Colt McCoy showed no signs of a concussion after the hit, though he's since been diagnosed with one.

posted by rcade to football at 03:05 PM - 21 comments

Brad McCoy's probably right, but can anyone recall an NFL coach being called out in public by a player's dad? That seems like something that could get a player's man card revoked in the locker room.

posted by rcade at 03:10 PM on December 10

This seems like a bigger issue than the hit itself in many ways, in that it gets to the most important systemic problem - repetitive hits to the head causing permanent brain damage. A concussed but functional player on the field is a sitting duck - and he threw a completely lame interception right after -- I mean, that is itself a sign of concussion, no? It's not just the guys who get carried off the field unconscious I worry about, as much as it's the guys getting whacked and then going back in, or those whose entire game is a series of 50 sub-concussion head butts along the line.

But the culture of football states that getting your bell rung is part of the game - and yet if there was proper sidelines procedures then if nothing else, the coaches running out of players would change the head-centric nature of the game (and yeah, I'm talking about lineman play here with routine smacking of heads, as well as open field tackles).

rcade - yeah, he will lose his "man card" and that too is another symptom of the problem.

But you know, his dad is not "probably right", he is absolutely 100% right and it's a breakthrough that he is speaking up.

If a culture of disgust and ostracization could arise among players, coaches, parents, and others for chronic offenders that might also help. Matt Cooke, for example, is a bit of a pariah in the NHL, even his own teammates barely tolerate him as a necessary evil (true in Vancouver well before the Savard hit, all the rumours were he was held in contempt, and yet play on he does.....). In the NHL, the recent poll of players was strongly in favour of fighting across the board, while equally strongly in favour of eliminating head shots. Seems kind of contradictory, but I guess there is a sense the former follow from the latter, or at least prevent the latter, and the notion that maybe ?50% of the players will never have a fight in their whole career but any one of them could get Cooked.

My solution - put accelerometers into helmets and have that as part of the diagnostic criteria - above a certain G, then sit out of the game, or a mandatory check up in the doctors office, off field, away from coaches.

posted by rumple at 03:32 PM on December 10

yeah, he will lose his "man card" and that too is another symptom of the problem.

The man card violation has nothing to do with concussions. It's being seen letting your dad fight your battles.

posted by rcade at 03:56 PM on December 10

It is connected, in that if your loved ones are not allowed to speak up to protect your health, especially when you might have your noggin knocked into not the best of shape, and when you are enmeshed in an extremely macho subculture, then insularity of influence is part of the problem leading to concussions.

In short, McCoy's dazed response was to say he was fine and go back in. The coach's response was to let him. Those are not rational decisions.

Yes, in a general sense a dad shouldn't fight a man's battles, but dammit, someone has to advocate for his brain and huge respect to his dad for crossing that line.

posted by rumple at 04:11 PM on December 10

Agree, Colt was in no condition to stand up for his best interests.

For better or worse, there is some prior history with Brad McCoy's involvement. He's been through the injury thing with his son before.

posted by beaverboard at 04:31 PM on December 10

Brad McCoy didn't have to voice his concerns publicly, though. He could've gone to Shurmur or the Browns management directly. I don't think he's helping his son in the long term by being a stage mother in the press.

posted by rcade at 04:41 PM on December 10

Brad McKoy is a very highly respected football coach in the State of Texas. Yes, he's a father -- but he's not "just a father" fighting his son's battles. This man knows what he is talking about. Though not a doctor that specializes in head trauma, he's got the credibility to speak up.

His decision to voice his concern publicly, certainly given the heightened concern in the NFL and NHL regarding head trauma/brain injuries, etc., is probably another good wake up call to commissioners of leagues and conferences, presidents and principals of schools, as well as officials and others in decision making capacity that this is a critical topic that needs further action and careful control before more young people are sacrificed, handicapped or killed in the name of toughness, money, guts and glory.

I'm all for being tough, but being tough at the risk of losing your livelihood or life, in my opinion, isn't worth the price.

And rcade, I usually agree with and appreciate your comments and insight on most topics, but Brad McKoy is a long ways from being a "stage mother", and Colt McKoy surely doesn't need his father fighting his battles -- he can do quite well on his own.

posted by naturalpro at 06:50 PM on December 10

The man card violation has nothing to do with concussions. It's being seen letting your dad fight your battles.

And if nobody else was fighting them, what then? You'd just dummy up if it was your kid?

I think you're being silly.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:10 PM on December 10

The phrase "man card" alone is beyond silly, to put it mildly.

posted by Ufez Jones at 08:51 PM on December 10

The man card violation has nothing to do with concussions. It's being seen letting your dad fight your battles.


Players know the hazards of concussions and have seen and read repeatedly over the years what they can do.

The father here is a respected coach who knows something about concussions and players. I don't think Colt's teammates would get on him because his father stepped up about this.

The players can see the difference between:

1.) A coach and front office that wants to win--player concussions be damned.

and

2.) Somebody who sticks up for a player -- even if it's a father who's been around the block on this. The players see that somebody is in their corner on this. Especially when they see the coach downplay the whole incident and just send the kid back in.

You just don't fart around with neurological trauma. NFL history bears this out.

posted by roberts at 09:13 PM on December 10

Yes, in a general sense a dad shouldn't fight a man's battles, but dammit, someone has to advocate for his brain and huge respect to his dad for crossing that line.

Exactly. It's a no-win situation for players.

If a player speaks out and says "I don't think the team did the right thing.", then he'll be ostracised and/or punished.
(Example: Eric Lindros, concussions, and his captaincy with the Philadelphia Flyers)

If a close family member speaks out (mother/father/spouse), then the player will be ridiculed.
(Example: Eric Lindros, concussions, and his tenure with the Philadelphia Flyers)

In both cases, it casts a shadow over what really is a form of whistle-blowing.

posted by grum@work at 11:02 PM on December 10

The phrase "man card" alone is beyond silly, to put it mildly.

Whether you want to call it a man card, machismo, bravado or something else, players in the NFL -- particularly quarterbacks -- are held to a high standard of toughness and leadership in the locker room.

I don't disagree with the content of Brad McCoy's complaint. He's probably right that the Browns missed signs of a concussion after the hit -- "probably" instead of "definitely" because it's possible for concussion symptoms to manifest themselves over time.

But I question whether a second-year NFL quarterback's effort to establish himself is helped at all by his dad taking on his coach in public. Brad McCoy wasn't on the sideline. He's not part of the team. He's not in the locker room. He's not in a position to be a whistleblower. He's just passing along what Colt told him, which Colt could tell his coach himself.

Keep in mind McCoy's not exactly on solid ground as the Browns quarterback. He's fighting to prove he deserves the job next season and the numbers aren't pretty. If I was him, I'd tell dad not to air dirty laundry to the press.

And if nobody else was fighting them, what then? You'd just dummy up if it was your kid?

I'd defer judgment to my 24-year-old adult son. It's his job, his health and his career. I'd give him my advice on what I think he should do, but ultimately the decision on how to respond should be his.

Regardless of the job, would you criticize your spouse or adult child's current employer in the press? I'd stay as far away from that as possible for fearing of fucking things up for them.

posted by rcade at 11:57 PM on December 10

Regardless of the job, would you criticize your spouse or adult child's current employer in the press? I'd stay as far away from that as possible for fearing of fucking things up for them.

I've neither a wife nor a son, but if it had serious health implications and was something preventable (and I think we're all in agreement that concussions are a pretty serious long-term health issue) then yes, absolutely, I would. How else are you supposed to elicit change?

Keep in mind McCoy's not exactly on solid ground as the Browns quarterback. He's fighting to prove he deserves the job next season and the numbers aren't pretty.

To be fair to Colt (and I'm no fan of his), I'm not sure Elway or Marino or Johnny Fucking Unitas could help the Browns right now.

posted by Ufez Jones at 12:32 AM on December 11

Regardless of the job, would you criticize your spouse or adult child's current employer in the press? I'd stay as far away from that as possible for fearing of fucking things up for them.

You are looking at it from the dad's perspective here. My thought is what grown children can tell their parents when to speak and when not to speak. I'd bet a lot more people in the locker room have parents that aren't easily controlled in that way, so McCoy will get a break for both it being an important concern for all of them and that parents are like that.

posted by bperk at 09:01 AM on December 11

Protective football dad says something controversial in the media, potentially causing problems for his star quarterback son?

In the NFL?

It happens more often than you think.

posted by grum@work at 11:35 AM on December 11

I'd defer judgment to my 24-year-old adult son.

Your 24-year-old adult son just got his bells rung. His judgment is compromised. This is perhaps the single most important factor in whether somebody else, mom or dad or dear old Father Flanagan, should step up and say something. I'm surprised that you're overlooking this.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:45 PM on December 11

Your 24-year-old adult son just got his bells rung. His judgment is compromised.

Brad McCoy made his comment the next day, more than a week before the Browns play again. There's no urgent situation he's handling by criticizing Shurmur in the press.

If Colt McCoy's concussion test was not handled properly on the sideline, is there a good reason why Colt couldn't make this complaint himself before the next game -- either to the press or to the team?

posted by rcade at 05:03 PM on December 11

If Colt McCoy's concussion test was not handled properly on the sideline, is there a good reason why Colt couldn't make this complaint himself before the next game -- either to the press or to the team?

If you've got a crystal ball and you somehow know that his brain is going to be good to make the judgment within the next six days, then no, there's no reason at all. But if you've got such a crystal ball, then you would also know that his brain would be good to play, so there's no reason to even have this discussion. Of course, in real life, you don't know any of those things, so why pretend that you do?

And, you know...the whole "man card" thing...really, really unfortunate selection of metaphor to frame this discussion (but perhaps indicative of why it's hard to address the problems of head trauma in the NFL, as several people have pointed out).

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:40 PM on December 11

If you've got a crystal ball and you somehow know that his brain is going to be good to make the judgment within the next six days, then no, there's no reason at all.

That's not a good reason. If your premise is that Colt McCoy might be so addle-brained until the next game Dec. 18 that he's incapable of speaking for himself about his concussion test, some days would have to pass to see if this is true or not. His father spoke to the press the day after the game.

Generally, we worry about athletes deciding for themselves whether to go back into a game after a head injury. We don't worry about them conducting their lives in the days and weeks following a concussion.

Colt McCoy's an adult. In the 10 days between games, he is capable of tackling the issue of whether his head injury was properly tested on the sidelines by Browns personnel.

I don't think Brad McCoy spoke to the press in the belief Colt couldn't handle the matter himself. I think he just loves talking to reporters. Look at all the quotes in this story about Colt's younger brother Case, now a quarterback at Texas. Brad McCoy has cowritten a book with his son: Growing Up Colt: A Father, a Son, a Life in Football. This is a hands-on athlete parent.

And, you know...the whole "man card" thing...really, really unfortunate selection of metaphor to frame this discussion (but perhaps indicative of why it's hard to address the problems of head trauma in the NFL, as several people have pointed out).

As I've said, the man card violation has nothing to do with concussions. It was about how a player conducts himself when there's any kind of problem on the team.

posted by rcade at 06:24 PM on December 11

That's not a good reason. If your premise is that Colt McCoy might be so addle-brained until the next game Dec. 18 that he's incapable of speaking for himself about his concussion test, some days would have to pass to see if this is true or not. His father spoke to the press the day after the game.

rcade, what point are you trying to make? You said that you'd leave it up to the judgment of your "24-year-old adult son"; I pointed out that people with concussions don't have reliable judgment. Do you really believe that all concussion symptoms resolve themselves within an arbitrary 10-day limit? I've seen people having trouble with cognitive tasks months after a slip-and-fall concussion.

As I've said, the man card violation has nothing to do with concussions. It was about how a player conducts himself when there's any kind of problem on the team.

It sounds like just another sandbox tactic to keep people from speaking up when it's clearly called for.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:06 PM on December 11

Disclaimer: I didn't see the play, I don't follow the Browns, and I don't follow McCoy. But if what you're saying is true, that McCoy's on shaky footing (no pun intended) with regards to his status as the starting QB for the team, you're damn right he's not going to speak up about his concussion concerns.

But fuck, somebody's got to. Especially if even a shred of what Brad McCoy said is true about Colt's overall mental status thereafter.

And yes, it's a little embarrassing that it's his dad, but if the kid himself doesn't feel he can speak up because he doesn't want to be seen as a 'problem QB' or not a team player (which likely also played into him going back into the game -- "I'm alright, guys" even though he's dazed and confused on the sidelines) then I say it's good that someone spoke up on his behalf.

People should be talking about not only why the coach and medical staff screwed up and let him go out and continue to play after that hit, but why Colt perhaps didn't feel he could be forthcoming with coaches and staff about how badly he was injured. Earlier commenters pointed out the whistleblowing aspect of it all, and it's a great metaphor; how often do you hear about shit happening at a loved one's workplace that they themselves are powerless to address (look to the economy for reasons why)... how frustrated does that leave you, how much do you wish you could stand up for that loved one's shitty situation?

posted by evixir at 10:32 PM on December 11

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