Steelers And The NFL Completely Insensitive To TJ Watt's Overall Health And Well-Being - Sport News

Steelers And The NFL Completely Insensitive To TJ Watt’s Overall Health And Well-Being

The Pittsburgh Steelers have an extensive history of players who have been forced to deal with the aftermath of sustained concussions. Some, like Merril Hoge, have been successful in dealing with the lingering effects of multiple head injuries. Still, others like the late Mike Webster fought and eventually lost their battles with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

Steelers And The NFL Completely Insensitive To TJ Watt's Overall Health And Well-Being

Pittsburgh has been at the cutting edge of identifying and dealing with the effects of CTE. The UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program is the leading clinical concussion research program in the world. Unfortunately, UPMC’s proximity to Acrisure Stadium could not guarantee a positive result for the Steelers or the NFL on Thursday night. TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith entered the concussion protocol after losing to the New England Patriots.

On Wednesday, Mike Florio, the founder of Pro Football Talk, appeared on The PM Team w/Poni & Mueller. Florio, who was extremely critical of the incident last year involving Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa, thinks that the NFL could be staring through another black eye because of the incident involving Watt on Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football.  Andrew Fillipponi asked Florio if he thought the team might face disciplinary action from the NFL.

“It’s a combination of the Steelers and the unaffiliated neuro-trauma consultant,” Florio remarked. “People think that person is independent, but that person isn’t independent. They just are not affiliated with the team. I think sometimes there is kind of a spot they want players to be able to play.”

The Steelers were playing the Patriots in prime time, and what most of the country saw as a lackluster matchup would not have been improved with Watt leaving the game on the first series. However, in a league that calls roughing the passer if you run by the quarterback too fast, it is, at the very least, curious. The NFL inconsistently applies the enforcement of most of the rules on the field. Is it really farfetched to think that the concussion protocol might be corrupted?

“I don’t understand how there wasn’t a greater sensitivity to TJ Watt’s overall health and well-being,” Florio continued. “This happened last year with Tua Tagovailoa, and the union said we don’t want these UNCs to be just checking boxes. We want them to treat the players like patients. It felt like they were looking for reasons to let TJ Watt continue to play.”

Are The Steelers Cutting Corners?

It is an explosive allegation that, if true, could shake the foundations of professional football. The Steelers cutting corners with their best player is not remotely tolerable, but even the most ardent proponent of player safety would have to admit that, on some level, it is understandable. Pittsburgh is abysmal without Watt in the lineup.

The NFL is supposed to employ neutral observers to save teams from making a bad decision. If Florio is correct, that is simply not happening, and the league is ignoring player safety when it suits them. The inevitable flag that flies after every clean hit is all a ruse. It is merely another form of virtue signaling at best, and at worst, it suggests that the league is exerting undue influence in a sport that has gotten in bed with legalized sports gambling.

“Anything short of TJ Watt saying, ‘I think I have a concussion,’ they seemed to be inclined to let him play,” Florio concluded. “When you’ve got the tinted visor that gets attached to his helmet, what in the world is your reasoning for that? The NFL is frustrating me because there has been no transparency. I’ve asked them multiple times to explain what he was checked for, when was he checked, and why the tinted visor? They never responded. They must know the response they give me would not be acceptable, so it’s better to say nothing at all.”

Florio, who was a practicing attorney before he started Pro Football Talk, is well-suited to issues like this. He provides valuable insight and is usually able to identify the pain points that can be exploited to hold an often unwilling league accountable. Florio does work for NBC Sports, so he is not totally unfettered to explore the NFL’s hypocrisy.

More often than not, he is an honest broker who at least points out the issues with a player safety policy. A policy that ignores the damage that artificial turf presents to player safety. The league could easily mandate a change to the playing surface and eliminate substantial risk to its players in one offseason. The NFL could also mandate the most advanced protective equipment available for helmets.

Football is a collision sport, but the current collective bargaining agreement has virtually outlawed teaching proper techniques for tackling and installing the next game plan. Guess which one fell by the wayside?

Roger Goodell has forgotten that by getting into bed with legalized gambling, he has opened the door for Chad and Karen to demand explanations for why they lost the mortgage payment on a ridiculously bad call. Then again, maybe he hasn’t and that is possibly why Watt strapped on a visor on Thursday night instead of a jacket.

No matter what the truth, Art Rooney II should be transparent, even if the league refuses. Dan Rooney would likely have stopped the league from getting into legalized gambling in the first place. He definitely would not stand for so-called independent observers putting the health of his best player at risk. His son should expose the hypocrisy of the league and, if necessary, his own coaching staff in ignoring pretend player safety initiatives.

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