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The Seattle Seahawks will pay for failing to properly apply the NFL concussion protocol to quarterback Russell Wilson this season.
The team has been "fined $100,000 and the coaching and medical staffs will be required to attend remedial training regarding the protocol" after Wilson missed just one play despite taking a direct shot to the jaw from Arizona Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby on Nov. 9, according to a joint statement Thursday from the NFL and the players union.
Wilson was ushered to the sideline by referee Walt Anderson but was in Seattle's medical tent for just seconds before strapping on his helmet and returning to the game. He was examined more thoroughly only after the Seahawks defense took the field.
The NFL and NFL Players Association jointly reviewed the matter before making the determination. They also mandate "an immediate update will be made to the protocol instructing officials, teammates and coaching staff to take players directly to a member of the medical team for a concussion assessment. The NFL and the NFLPA will continue to look at potential modifications to the protocols in an effort to keep players safe."
A statement from the Seahawks said, "We accept the findings of the NFL and NFLPA joint investigation. We did not knowingly disregard the Concussion Protocol. Any misstep was unintentional and the result of confusion on the sideline."
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said Thursday: "In this case, we found that through a series of communication breakdowns, the protocol wasn't followed. ... The player was allowed to return to the game without going through the protocol, and that is a clear violation."
The NFL has opted to use outside counsel to run the misconduct probe of outgoing Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson rather than investigating the matter on its own, Lockhart said Thursday.
"This is a broad issue that we think that expertise of an outside firm can bring with many different potential issues we face here," Lockhart said. "We just made the judgment that an outside firm is most appropriate."
The Panthers announced late last week that Richardson was the subject of multiple complaints of alleged workplace misconduct and that an outside firm would handle the investigation. However, on Sunday the league assumed control of the matter. The allegations against Richardson involve sexual harassment of multiple female team employees and racially insensitive remarks toward a former Panthers scout, who is African American.
"Any time you have allegations of these sorts, it's something the league takes very seriously," Lockhart said. "We wanted to make sure that we look into allegations made against the owner and the personnel involved with the team.
"We are always trying to make sure our clubs understand the seriousness of this and are educating on best practices. And part of being serious on that issue when an allegation is raised is we investigate and get to an answer of what happened."
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