NFL Will Now Be Protecting Its Players with Referees Posing as Doctors

Brendan O'HareContributor INovember 4, 2011

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 26:  NFL referee, Ed Hochuli #85 at Cowboys Stadium on September 26, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

I hope everyone enjoys a legion of pseudo-doctors running around the NFL with their light bright lights searching for Anisocoria, because that is what we are going to get with the new "initiative" being paved by the NFL's Injury and Safety Panel (commonly known as the most inept organization since the League of Nations). From the Washington Post:

The NFL plans to educate game officials on concussion-related symptoms so they can help watch for head injuries suffered by players.

Of course, this isn’t necessarily a completely atrocious directive. It makes sense to have some extra eyes on the field in search of staggering players. The problem with this is that it is being instituted in the middle of the season, and doctors go to college for seven years.

The hysterical need for excess doctors come from San Diego lineman Kris Dielman having a seizure on a plane after a concussion he suffered during a game two weeks ago, in which he remained in the game.

That is a breakdown on the San Diego medical staff, who didn’t have enough foresight to realize that every play could end up with a paralyzed player. Allegedly, one referee saw this (no San Diego members saw this, obviously), and couldn’t do anything about it.

This shouldn’t be a call for a widespread edict for zebra shamans. Instead, we should be reprimanding the referee who stood mute while Dielman’s brain was rattling around his skull. We need referees who will speak up if they see a 300-pound man be the recipient of whiplash. That makes more sense than a panic move to turn the referees into a walking embodiment of malpractice.

This new crusade can either be done two different ways. The right way is for referees to alert someone on the sideline that a player’s brain is bleeding. In a perfect world, this would be just fine. The problem is, the way the strategy sounds, it will be turned into endless game stoppages every time a player trips over his feet.

Greg Aiello, the NFL’s vice president of public relations and pharisaic bonhomie says:

"We are taking the step on officials to make them alert to obvious concussion symptoms. We're not trying to train the officials to be doctors, but we're asking them to treat it like other injuries that may make it necessary to stop the game and get them medical attention, either on the field or by getting them off the field."

They are trying to turn the referees into doctors, because something like this should be common sense more than anything. You see a person careening over, you either go help or at least alert someone. The fact that this is being made into such a large deal probably means that the referees will accept their new-found medical responsibility with over-aggression.

Or, as usual with the NFL, this could just be another faux-directive against the thing that made the NFL so popular in the first place. Who wants to watch a sport where players are being checked for signs of life? It’s just more pretense the NFL feeds us as a league that “cares about its players.” They don’t, but if they make referees who have as much medical skill as Patrick Dempsey check out the players, it looks like they do.

That player will be back the next week, to be victimized yet again. But good thing Dr. Ed Hochuli-Riviera was there to stop it the first time.