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Holmgren: Browns did not check McCoy on sideline
BEREA, OHIO (AP) - Although James Harrison’s devastating, illegal hit on Colt McCoy was witnessed by millions on television and thousands at Heinz Field, Cleveland’s medical staff did not realize the severity of the blow when it treated the quarterback.
That was the explanation given by Browns President Mike Holmgren on Wednesday, one day after NFL medical officials and representatives of the Players Association met with the Browns to discuss the team’s controversial handling of McCoy’s head injury and possible changes to the league’s policies on concussions.
Holmgren does not expect the league to penalize the Browns, who did not know McCoy had a concussion when they sent him back into Thursday night’s game.
Union chief DeMaurice Smith said the meetings allowed the NFLPA to learn more about McCoy’s treatment.
“We will review the findings with our team and take into consideration the public comments made by the Browns,” Smith said in a statement.
During a nearly one-hour news conference, Holmgren explained that McCoy was not checked for a concussion on the sideline after the hit because he wasn’t showing symptoms. Also, the team’s medical and training staffs were unaware of the impact of Harrison’s helmet-to-face mask hit because they were on the sideline working on other injured players.
Holmgren defended the decision but acknowledged the injury may have been handled differently if the medical staff had seen McCoy get laid out by Harrison, who has been suspended one game by the league for his fifth illegal tackle on a quarterback in three years.
“I want to make something very, very clear here,” said Holmgren, who was at times emotional when discussing the topic and several others. “No coach that I know, certainly not our head coach, would ever overrule a doctor and put a kid in a game where a doctor said you can’t play. I never did it. Pat will never do it. It’s not happening.
“If anybody had that in the back of their mind because it’s a big game, it’s the Steelers, we had a chance to win the game, we’re going to roll the dice a little bit and throw him in, that’s not what happened.
“That will never happen.”
Holmgren said one of the issues raised at the meeting was having the league observer at games _ or someone _ notify the field if there’s a big hit and a player should be evaluated more thoroughly.
Holmgren called the Browns’ medical staff “the absolute best in football” and praised the club’s handling of head injuries. Earlier in Thursday night’s game, tight end Benjamin Watson and fullback Owen Marecic were both ruled out by the staff with concussions. The Browns have had nine concussions this season.
McCoy was sent home before practice on Wednesday with a headache and it’s doubtful he will play this Sunday when the Browns visit Arizona. Holmgren has not yet spoken to the second-year quarterback, who was scrambling from pressure and had flipped the ball to running back Montario Hardesty when Harrison drilled him in the chin.
In giving a detailed breakdown “to set the record as straight as I can,” Holmgren explained that when McCoy was hit, Sheehan and Dr. Mark Schickendantz ran on the field not knowing exactly what had happened.
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