Steelers RB Chris Rainey was knocked unconscious from a hit from Colts S Jerraud Powers in the first quarter of the Steelers' eventual 26-24 win over Indianapolis Sunday, prompting concerns over whether proper protocol was followed by the Steelers' medical staff.
Rainey admitted to losing consciousness in an interview with the Tribune-Review, saying he "woke up," but later begging trainers to let him back in the game.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin wisely separated himself from the decision to have him return, stating it's the doctors call, not his, whether a player is ok to return to a game.
The rules themselves are ambiguous and leave a lot of speculation as to whether a player actually loses consciousness. Whether the player is responsive to external stimuli and whether he actually loses consciousness are different things, but both symptoms could indicate a concussion has occurred.
The Tribune-Review said the league has not commented whether they are investigating how the situation was handled, but the Steelers have had issues with this in the past.
The team has taken fire mostly around how they are defining what a concussion is. Tomlin has used the phrase "concussion-like symptoms" as a way of avoiding the responsibility of what comes with the concussion itself - in other words, because a player had the symptoms doesn't mean he has a concussion.
And that's fair of Tomlin to say. He's not a doctor, and concussions cannot necessarily be diagnosed immediately. The rule suggests a player suspected of having a concussion must undergo testing, and like Rainey was Sunday, the player must pass those tests to return.
Expect this story to gain steam this week and this season, given SS Troy Polamalu's recent admittance of having suffered several concussions he hid from Steelers' trainers in the past. While Tomlin and the organization will likely be the scapegoats (if you listen toward West Virginia, you should be able to hear Mike Florio's keyboard clacking away right now), the fact is the league cannot define immediate concussions in an acceptable manner. The "I know it when I see it" test will not work on players who do not want to leave a game because their future earning potential depends on it.