Behind-the-scenes look at the NFL game-day concussion protocol – ESPN

11:07 PM ET

In recent years, the term “concussion protocol” has become such a part of the NFL lexicon that everyone refers to it — from players to coaches to those of us who cover the league to all the fans who watch. But how many of us could actually describe the different elements of the protocol? Or identify the roughly 30 medical personnel present at every game?

Even as a medical professional who understands the terminology involved and has followed the evolution of the NFL concussion protocol over the years, it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to see the various elements and personnel in action that I could fully appreciate the working mechanics of the protocol on game day.

During the preseason, I had the opportunity to spend time before, during and after a game with Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, to get a close-up view of the league’s game-day protocol. While there were some components with which I was very familiar, there were also some revelations.

Here are the three things that struck me the most:

(1) Activity in the spotter’s booth

While there are two spotters (both certified athletic trainers) in the booth, there are actually five people with distinct responsibilities who are tasked with looking for injuries throughout the game. All five are NFL-hired, independent of the teams playing.

The two athletic trainers are flanked by two video technicians, who are available to show various angles of video and zoom in on that video to enhance the view of a particular play and/or player(s). The spotters are not sitting down, casually looking through binoculars and watching the game. Rather, they are standing, moving constantly, pivoting and turning, alternating between binocular-enhanced views of the field and technician-enabled cuts of video. There

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