Cleveland Browns fans have been busy lately raging for James Harrison to receive lethal injection for interpreting, albeit wrongly, that Browns quarterback Colt McCoy was a "runner" after he tucked the ball and advanced to the line of scrimmage. Earlier McCoy had done the exact same thing and scored a touchdown, though it was adjusted to the one-foot line. After the play, few were paying attention to the sidelines. Browns fans, like Steelers fans not in attendance, were relegated to watching what television decided to show you. I sat in Heinz Field 10 rows from the field with my left eye on McCoy and my right eye on the field. Incredibly, the only thing I saw was the Cleveland medical staff attending to McCoy's left hand, and they didn't spend very much time at that. McCoy was rushed back into the game after sitting out two plays.
McCoy finished the game, getting knocked down again and then sacked on the last play of the game. After the game, members of Cleveland's PR staff asked that lights in the press room be turned off during McCoy's interview so that the Cleveland quarterback, healthy enough to go back into an NFL football game, would not have to deal with bright lights, a classic symptom of a concussion. McCoy squinted often and clutched his face as one does with a splitting headache.
The next morning, after not being able to drive himself home, McCoy told his father, Brad, that he didn't remember the play or plays afterward. Brad McCoy was rightly livid that his son was treated so unprofessionally and allowed to return to action with, determined later of course, indeed a concussion. Mr. McCoy, a long-time coach himself, declared that his high school trainer would have taken more time to assess Colt's condition. It was a classic case of fiddling while Rome burns. Medical experts were more concerned about McCoy's left hand than his brain.
Later examined properly as a concussion, only Head Coach Pat Shurmur has spoken publicly and that has been a total cop-out. Claiming that medical staff was busy with other injuries is also a cop-out. Who were the two men who kept working on McCoy's hand, team bus drivers? Shurmur has refused to answer questions directly, repeating only that the Browns handled the situation properly, which they did not. The SCAT2 concussion test, proper procedure for head trauma, was not administered at all during the critical analysis of McCoy's left hand. Thank God McCoy did not hit his head again in the game.
Steelers fans can recall numerous cases where players have been held out of action when there is any doubt. The Steelers always err on the side of caution, as we've heard Mike Tomlin over and over again. The Browns apparently err on the side of making sure their players have their left hand in tact. Harrison's misinterpretation was like stealing a pack of bubble gum compared to what the Browns did to their own player. Let's be clear here. Harrison's interpretation was wrong and ignorance is no excuse from the law. He'll pay his price. The NFL is trying to eliminate what Harrison did to McCoy and I get that.
Time will tell what will unfold as both the NFL and the Players Association are investigating the situation. Don't be surprised if the Browns receive one of the stiffest penalties in NFL history. Maybe then their fans will stop planning James Harrison's final meal before execution and start worrying about their own house.