Bizarre verbiage, a weird situation, and a scary description of symptoms. That’s what we’ve left with in the wake of Zach Wilson’s head injury which occurred on Sunday in the Jets’ loss to the Dolphins.
Wilson took a big hit shortly before halftime on Sunday and was slow to get up. He left the field, and it’s here where things got weird. Despite being checked for a concussion, Wilson was reportedly cleared by medical staff — and reports on his status were extremely bizarre.
Initially Wilson was reported to be suffering from “dehydration,” then that diagnosis was changed to an unspecified “head injury.”
The Jets ruled out Wilson for the remainder of the game, which led to rampant speculation on Twitter as to whether Wilson was faking a head injury to get out of the game. This was fueled by reports earlier in the week which made the quarterback’s status questionable to begin with — so the belief from some was that Wilson was getting hit, and simply wanted out.
This took a pretty horrific turn on Monday when Lisa Wilson, mother of Zach, posted about the incident on Instagram — and the description, while common, is pretty alarming.
“Zach took some really, really big hits and he fought through it, and really tried to stay out on the field. He didn’t want to go off. He didn’t want to stop playing. So he didn’t really tell the sideline coaches, the trainers how he was really feeling — and he tried to fight through it. […] After one more blow to the head he really started having problems with blurred vision and his depth perception.”
This raises all sorts of questions about Wilson’s status in the game, and why his head injury wasn’t caught sooner. The entire purpose of the NFL concussion protocol is to protect players who insist on staying in the game, even when they have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
The NFL concussion protocol takes decision making out of the hands of the team or player and puts it in the hands of independent doctors. If a player is observed to have suffered any hit to the head, or a hit large enough that could result in concussion they are to be evaluated using:
- Cervical spine exam
- Evaluation of speech
- Observation of gait
- Eye exam
The purpose of these tests is inherently because a player can’t fake their way through it. So, we’re led to believe that in the hits leading up to the one that took Wilson out of the game no test was administered — then when he finally decided his symptoms were too bad he was tested and PASSED the independent exam.
This is absolutely unacceptable. The primary issue with concussions isn’t necessarily the hit itself, but subsequent hits after a player has sustained a head injury. By Lisa Wilson’s account her son was already feeling the effects of a head injury before deciding it was too bad to continue.
There needs to be answers about what happened with Wilson on Sunday. Both as to why he was able to hide his initial injury from doctors, as well as why early reports of the injury indicated that he passed a sideline exam. The team is now referring to the injury as a concussion, but it’s clear that the ball was dropped in a major way on Sunday.
The future health of the NFL is predicated on taking traumatic brain injuries seriously. Zach Wilson suffered one on Sunday, but it was played off like nothing happened. This warrants further question.