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NFL: Bakhtiari violated concussion protocol

Jan. 10, 2014
 
Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari (69) lies on the ground after sustaining a concussion during Sunday's NFC wild-card playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith stands over him. Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette Media
Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari (69) lies on the ground after sustaining a concussion during Sunday's NFC wild-card playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith stands over him. Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette Media

Green Bay Packers rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari violated NFL concussion protocol when he re-entered Sunday’s NFC wild-card playoff game, a 23-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, despite not being cleared by team doctors.

In a document obtained by the Associated Press and sent by the league’s head, neck and spine committee chairmen to all team doctors and trainers, Dr. Hunt Batjer and Dr. Richard Ellenbogen acknowledged two unidentified players disobeyed protocol during the opening playoff weekend.

Bakhtiari, 22, left the game at the start of the fourth quarter after stumbling and appearing to get hit in the head by the knee of 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis. Marshall Newhouse replaced him on the ensuing play, a 1-yard John Kuhn touchdown run, but Bakhtiari forced his way back into the game on the point-after attempt.

Afterward, Bakhtiari ran to the locker room, where his concussion was confirmed.

The other player was New Orleans Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis, who remained on the sideline but did not get back on the field.

An NFL spokesperson confirmed Bakhtiari wasn't fined the violation. The Packers' medical staff also aren't liable for Bakhtiari going back into the game.

"On two occasions last weekend, and contrary to the advice of the team medical staffs, players who had been diagnosed with a concussion and therefore declared ineligible for play nonetheless refused to leave the sidelines as required by league concussion protocols," the letter said. "In one case, the player went back onto the field for one play before being removed from the game.

"We emphasize that we find no fault in how the team medical staffs conducted themselves last weekend. If a player refuses to follow your advice and leave the sidelines after being diagnosed with a concussion, we recommend that the head athletic trainer seek assistance from the player's position coach (or another member of the coaching staff) or from another team official to remove the player from the sidelines as soon as possible."

Bakhtiari was off-limits to reporters after the game and during the final locker room session on Monday.

The NFL's Madden Rule requires a player diagnosed with a concussion to be taken to the locker room or another quiet location.

Batjer and Ellenbogen noted in the letter that players may resist being kept out of the game, particularly during postseason play.

"But (the rule) is an important element of the league's protocol and intended to safeguard the player's well-being and enhance his ability to recover from his injury," they wrote.

This report includes material from The Associated Press

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