KANSAS CITY, MO. — Chiefs quarterback Ricky Stanzi once suffered a concussion while playing in college at Iowa, but he didn’t tell anyone or come out of the game. His symptoms were different and less severe than those of his Chiefs teammate, Brady Quinn, who suffered a concussion during a game last month.
But Stanzi said he felt the same pressure as Quinn to remain in the lineup.
“I just kept my mouth shut about it,” Stanzi said. “I didn’t want to come out of the game. It’s a tough situation. You can debate about it all day.”
Quinn also kept to himself about his concussion during the Chiefs’ Oct. 28 game against Oakland at Arrowhead Stadium despite having symptoms that affected his vision. Quinn took three snaps after the injury, taking a big hit on two of them.
Quinn said this week he didn’t inform Chiefs coaches or medical personnel at least in part because it was only his second start in the last three seasons. Coach Romeo Crennel said the Chiefs weren’t aware that Quinn was injured until the time they pulled him from the game.
“Sometimes what happens in the course of a game if a guy gets dinged up and he’s not acting the way he should act,” Crennel said, “other players around notice it, and then when they come to the side, they’ll say, ‘Look at this guy. He’s not quite right.’ Then we’ll take a look at him.
“In the Quinn situation, that’s what occurred. The players noticed he wasn’t right, and they informed us he wasn’t right. Then we looked at him and talked to him and found out he had an issue, and then he was taken out of the game.”
Quinn was injured in the first quarter against the Raiders when he was hit by linebacker Philip Wheeler on a scramble up the middle. Quinn was hit after throwing a pass on the next play, a third down, and the Chiefs then punted.
He came back into the game for a couple of plays after the Chiefs got the ball back. As he returned to the field at that point, Quinn had to retreat to the sideline because he grabbed the wrong helmet.
Crennel said that as a practical matter, he is informed by trainer Dave Price when a player is injured and should be removed from the game. That’s what happened, Crennel said, in Quinn’s situation.
He said he was disappointed Quinn didn’t inform Price sooner of his impaired vision.
“I would expect they would come and say something about that rather than go back into the game knowing they could possibly injure themselves,” Crennel said. “The performance of the team might be affected as well. But the main focus is the safety of the player. We have to educate the players about that fact that the league has taken a strong stance on it and we are concerned about their safety.
“We don’t expect them to be macho guys in that respect. If you’re injured, come tell us, and then we’ll put somebody else in the game rather than risk your injury. There’s a thin line that we have to walk, that the players have to walk. But they have to understand there’s a phrase, an old phrase as it relates to football, about knowing the difference between pain and injury.”
Crennel can talk about it all he wants, but will they listen? Obviously, Quinn didn’t.
Stanzi didn’t when he was concussed during a game at Arizona during his senior season at Iowa.
“It was a light one,” said Stanzi, who also was able to play in Iowa’s game the following week. “It wasn’t like I forgot everything or didn’t know what I was doing. I just wasn’t myself. I was just a little off.
“They’re scary, depending on how intense they are. There are so many things that have gone wrong when you have a concussion.”
The NFL put precautions in place for players showing concussion symptoms. Players won’t be allowed back into a game without passing tests.
“That’s what’s good about what the NFL is doing,” Stanzi said. “They’re progressing using the resources we have. We have doctors on hand and people watching, seeing these hits. So when you come to the sideline, you can feel more comfortable about it. The awareness is different now. There’s not that, ‘Hey, get back in the game (because) we don’t care.’ People are trying to make sure guys can live their life after football.
“I think that changes how you look at it as a player. No player wants to leave a game once you’re in it, but there are injuries and they’re part of the game.”
But in the heat of the battle, that goes out the window. At least it did for Quinn against Oakland and Stanzi when he was at Iowa.
“You don’t feel you need to (come out of the game),” Stanzi said. “You don’t feel you’re hurting your team (by staying in the game). That’s kind of how you (judge) it.”