It will not be surprising if we haven\’t heard the least of the decision made Sunday night by the Pittsburgh Steelers that allowed running back Chris Rainey to return to game against the Indianapolis Colts after he suffered an apparent head injury.
Rainey took a shot to the head early in the game from Colts cornerback Jerraud Powers and had to go to the locker-room to be tested for a possible concussion. Ralph Paul of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports today that Rainey told him that he begged the medical staff to clear him to return after he reportedly passed all of the concussion administered to him.
Rainey, who did return to action in the second quarter, was quoted by Paulk in his article as saying, “I woke up, and I’m still here.”
The above quote can be interpreted several ways, and by that I mean Rainey was trying to say that he woke up on Monday, the day after the game, or that he woke up on the ground following the hit by Powers. Not knowing the context of the quotes right now or what the doctors observed while testing Rainey for a concussion, makes it hard to pass judgment on the ultimate decision to let Rainey return to the game.
Due to the sensitive nature of concussions right now in the NFL, I do think that it would have been a smarter decision to just hold Rainey out for the rest of the game. That way there would have been no room for controversy or second guessing after the fact. After all, it was only a preseason game and it\’s not like Rainey was having to battle for a roster spot. There was nothing to be gained, in my opinion, by letting him return to the game.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked during his post game press conference about the decision to allow Rainey to return to the game. “I didn’t examine (him),” Tomlin said. “I just go with the doctors. They said he was fine to come back, so we played him.”
The Cleveland Browns were criticized heavily by the public and the league for allowing quarterback Colt McCoy to return to the game last year following the hit he received from linebacker James Harrison. That incident, as Paulk points out in his article, led to commissioner Roger Goodell sending a memo to all of teams stating that a player who suffers a concussion should not return to action on the same day if he shows certain symptoms.
Once again I must reiterate that nobody knows except for the doctors what symptoms, if any, that Rainey showed. He very well might have passed all of the league mandated concussion test and he very well might not have been knocked out cold by the hit as the article suggest. His quotes to Paulk very well could be out of context. Regardless, you can bet that the league will be looking into it.
Should the Steelers have erred on the side of caution with Rainey? I think so. How about you?