NFL doctor calls Wentz 'heroic' for reporting concussion

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Philadelphia Eagles' Carson Wentz (11) is hit by Seattle Seahawks' Jadeveon Clowney (90) during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

PHILADELPHIA, PA – The NFL's chief medical officer called Carson Wentz “heroic” for reporting his concussion during Philadelphia's playoff loss and disputed the notion the league's system failed the Eagles quarterback.

“I think what Carson Wentz did is heroic and should be highlighted as an example of how an unbelievably skilled and competitive athlete understands the seriousness of concussion injury and is willing to honestly report it and receive the care that he needs independent of his desire and drive to continue to participate in the game,” Dr. Allen Sills told The Associated Press on Thursday. “Having a concussion and playing through it is not about toughness. That's demonstrating a lack of understanding of the severity of the injury. So I applaud Carson Wentz for understanding how serious this injury is and for getting appropriate care that he needs.”

Wentz was injured when Seattle's Jadeveon Clowney hit him helmet-to-helmet from behind in the first quarter of a 17-9 loss in an NFC wild-card game Sunday.

Wentz stayed in and threw a couple passes before reporting symptoms on the sideline. He was examined in the medical tent and went to the locker room for further evaluation after failing the concussion protocol. He was not allowed to return to the game.

“It's a great example to players at all ages and levels that you only have one brain and you shouldn't take chances with a brain injury,” said Sills, a neurosurgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “Brain injuries are different than other injuries. Anytime someone has a sprained ankle, you can see their ankle swell up or they dislocate a finger and you can see the finger pointing in the wrong direction. You can't see a brain injury from the outside, but that does not make it any less severe or any less dangerous to the recipient than any of those other injuries.”

Because the independent spotters and the neurotrauma consultants monitoring the game did not see Wentz exhibit behavior or symptoms suggestive of a concussion and he had to tell the team's medical staff, some media and fans have argued the league's system for concussion detection is broken.

“I would vigorously disagree,” Sills said. “Video identification of (symptoms) is one part of a concussion identification. You're not going to see things like amnesia or confusion on video, and that's why all the other elements of detection are really important.”

Those elements include players being open and honest about their symptoms. Also, the team's trainers and medical staff are relied upon to notice and report symptoms. So are coaches, teammates and game officials.