Tony Dungy decries “broken system” after Cameron Brate returns to play following apparent head injury

At a time of supposedly unprecedented sensitivity to ensuring that players who may have suffered head injuries are removed from play, common sense suggests that everyone connected to the process will be more careful than ever about flagging potentially concussed players and properly checking them out. Alas, common sense ain’t.

Late in the first half of last night’s game between the Chiefs and Buccaneers, Tampa Bay tight end Cameron Brate caught a pass and accidentally slammed his head into receiver Chris Godwin. As NBC’s Mike Tirico said during the broadcast, Brate was “shaken up and slow to get up.”

Brate ran off the field, failing to make it to the sideline before the next snap.

Presumably, Brate came to the sideline to be properly checked for a concussion. However, he did not enter the blue medical tent. A few plays later, Brate actually re-entered the game.

After halftime, Brate was placed in the concussion protocol and ruled out.

Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, who was on the sideline last night for NBC’s Football Night in America, said that it was “obvious” to him that Brate had suffered a head injury. Dungy questioned the failure of the spotter to alert the referee and/or the sideline that Brate needed to be fully evaluated. Dungy dubbed it a “broken system.”

We’ve asked the Buccaneers whether Brate was checked for a head injury during the handful of plays he missed. The team’s P.R. staff is currently looking into the matter.

Although it’s encouraging that Brate was properly checked at halftime, it underscores the importance of having someone intervene to ensure he’s checked before he can get back into the game. If he had suffered a second head injury immediately after suffering the first head injury (he went tumbling to the ground in the end zone on a play that drew a pass interference penalty), that could have resulted in a very bad outcome.