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December 20, 2015: NFL referee Ed Hochuli during the NFL game between the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)
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NFL can’t win with inconsistent concussion protocol

Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire
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Turns out it was NFL referee Ed Hochuli and not the ATC spotter who ordered Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor to the sidelines in the third quarter of Thursday night’s game between the Bills and the New York Jets to be checked for a possible concussion.

And if  Twitter is any indication, the politically correct embraced the typically unpopular referee for his decision after it appeared Taylor went limp for a moment after being crunched by a host of Jets’ defenders.

“Hey, our quarterback took a shot and then it’s like, OK, we get it,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said after the game. “He comes out and then EJ (Manuel) went in. And, hey, I certainly understand that and I’m all for that.”

Evan a coach as typically outspoken as Ryan knows to toe the line there, and the reaction from all is understandable because of what happened one week ago when Cam Newton was battered time and time again by the Denver Broncos and suffered at least two helmet-to-helmet hits, yet no one believed checking out the reigning MVP for a concussion was a good idea.

So, now the consistency of Dean Blandino’s officiating staff is again in question because Hochuli erred on the side of caution while Gene Steratore relied on the ATC spotter to do his particular job.

In the current format, which is incredibly flawed obviously, Steratore actually did the right thing, by allowing the “expert” to make the decision or indecision, as the case may be in the Newton example.

That’s tough for people to understand but what did removing Taylor really accomplish after he returned in only two plays?

Take a look at this one particular exchange as evidence of the problem:

It’s a perfect example of how the NFL simply can’t win with some in this environment, be it from a public-relations standpoint or safety perspective, save for removing any player who takes what is regarded as a hard hit and not allowing them to return, a notion that opens yet another Pandora’s Box when it comes to a competitive environment and how people see things.

To prove that thesis, ask any detective about segments of people watching the exact same set of circumstances and coming to different conclusions time and time again.

Under the current doctrine, Hochuli is the one that overreached and took a starting quarterback off the field in a competitive game, but that’s still not good enough for some because Taylor was back too quickly.

There is one path forward, however, and that’s copping to a Surgeon General-like warning by acknowledging the obvious in that playing professional football is not good for you and it could cause significant health problems down the road.

And not just the effects stemming from repetitive head trauma.

By embracing that fact and then hammering on the obvious, adults have the right to weigh the cost-benefit analysis and play this particular sport if they chose, then this fight reverts to where it should be played out in the first place, youth football.

Admittedly, that’s still not a winner for the NFL because that could affect the sport at the chokepoint if enough parents steer their children away from football.

But, it’s also the best-case scenario for an industry on its heels.

-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.

NFL can’t win with inconsistent concussion protocol

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