GREEN BAY – David Bakhtiari violated the violated NFL’s concussion protocol by reentering Sunday’s NFC wild-card playoff game, but the Green Bay Packers rookie left tackle will not be fined or punished, a league spokesman said Friday.
Bakhtiari absorbed a blow to the head on the play before fullback John Kuhn’s 1-yard touchdown run during the fourth quarter of the Packers’ 23-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He left the game and was replaced by backup Marshall Newhouse, and was being examined by the Packers’ medical staff when Kuhn scored. When Bakhtiari went down, he could be seen pushing away the arm of a trainer who was checking on him after the play.
Bakhtiari then ran onto the field and participated in the extra point without having been cleared by the medical staff. It was the only play Bakhtiari participated in after that, as he ran to the locker room and was diagnosed with a concussion, meaning he could not return to the game. He remained in the locker room thereafter, per league concussion rules.
In a document obtained by the Associated Press and sent by the league’s head, neck and spine committee chairmen to all team doctors and trainers, Dr. Hunt Batjer and Dr. Richard Ellenbogen acknowledged two unidentified players disobeyed protocol during the opening playoff weekend.
The other player was New Orleans Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis, who remained on the Saints’ sideline but did not return to the game after his head injury. The NBC Sports broadcast of the Saints’ victory over the Eagles showed Lewis repeatedly lobbying to return to the game.
"On two occasions last weekend, and contrary to the advice of the team medical staffs, players who had been diagnosed with a concussion and therefore declared ineligible for play nonetheless refused to leave the sidelines as required by league concussion protocols," the letter said. "In one case, the player went back onto the field for one play before being removed from the game.
"We emphasize that we find no fault in how the team medical staffs conducted themselves last weekend. If a player refuses to follow your advice and leave the sidelines after being diagnosed with a concussion, we recommend that the head athletic trainer seek assistance from the player's position coach (or another member of the coaching staff) or from another team official to remove the player from the sidelines as soon as possible."
The Packers medical staff was not reprimanded for not preventing Bakhtiari from running back onto the field, and Bakhtiari also will not be fined.
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