The rules are in place to prevent concussions. This time they may have led to one.
Antrel Rolle was bearing down on Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant in Sunday’s game, ready to unleash a heavy hit along the sideline. But when he saw that Bryant wasn’t going to make the catch, Rolle knew he had to avoid him. That led to him diving awkwardly and landing hard on the turf at Cowboys Stadium, banging his head, and being treated for a concussion.
“I was trying to avoid a collision,” Rolle said. “Once I saw the ball was falling I just tried to avoid him and I didn’t want to get any penalties because I was coming. I was coming to do damage. And once I saw that he wasn’t catching the ball I was trying to do my best to avoid him. My foot hit Webby (Corey Webster) as I was going down and it messed up my fall a little bit and had me all out of whack.”
The league has put an emphasis on player safety in recent years, particularly when it comes to defenders launching themselves at unprotected receivers. In this case, though, abiding by the rules put Rolle in perhaps a more dangerous position than he would have been had he hit Bryant.
Rolle said he never lost consciousness and doesn’t know if he actually had a concussion or not. He did go through the league’s protocol for treating concussions and was cleared to return to practice today. He should play on Sunday.
“They get the final call,” Rolle said. “If they asked me, I would have been out there on Monday. But they have to do the final call and this is your head you’re talking about. You have to make sure everything is ok and just go through the right protocol. Once they gave me the ok I’m definitely going to be out there.”
And playing the way Rolle plays, that could mean another concussion-like injury. This wasn’t the first time in his career he was “dinged,” the term he used for his injury. It wasn’t even the first time this season he’s been injured trying to avoid a collision. Against the Panthers, he dove past tight end Greg Olsen at nearly the same place on the field (different stadium) at nearly the same time of the game. In that instance he banged his knee against a camera while dodging the receiver, an injury that lingered for several weeks.
This time, the injury could have been a lot worse.
“I knew I wasn’t going to hit him,” Rolle said. “That’s what I was doing, I was avoiding him. But I was going to make sure the same thing didn’t happen that happened in the first game (when me missed a big hit on Miles Austin that cost the Giants a 34-yard touchdown). I was definitely going to clean him up. Once I saw he didn’t have control of the ball that’s when I turned my back to him.”