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Steelers WR Antonio Brown has cleared NFL concussion protocol

Despite the Steelers 2015 season being over, team president Art Rooney II told reporters today Antonio Brown has cleared the NFL's concussion protocol.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The term "concussion" has a very loose definition in the eyes of the regular fan. A bruised brain doesn't sound very difficult to overcome, and most feel an athlete should be able to bounce back rather quickly and "clear the cobwebs". Earlier in 2015, following the Pittsburgh Steelers loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Shazier both entered the NFL's concussion protocol. Both were back at practice by Thursday and played in the game the following week.

The same story could be said about William Gay later in the season. Gay didn't miss any game time due to the injury. For all of these reasons, and more, when Vontaze Burfict hit Antonio Brown in the waning minutes of the AFC Wild Card game earlier this month, the thought was Brown would be back for the divisional round against the Denver Broncos.

Obviously, that never happened. Brown didn't clear the hurdles of the protocol to allow him to even travel with the team to Denver. Nonetheless, as team president Art Rooney II met with reporters Thursday, Brown has officially cleared the protocol and has been cleared for any type of exercise and training regimen this offseason.

This is good news for the team, but also for Brown. Athletes in every sport have had long-term issues with concussions, and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins is as close to home for Brown and the Steelers than any other case. Crosby dealt with a concussion and neck injury which kept him out of the lineup for nearly a calendar year. In the NFL, Austin Collie, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, was forced to quit the game due to concussions.

The movie "Concussion" has brought a negative light on the NFL and their handling of head injuries, and rightfully so, but Brown's case is the perfect example of the league moving in the right direction with such situations. It isn't perfect, but it is improving. Now, Brown has to work to get back and become better than ever for the 2016 season.