Jamaal Charles may have been seeing light bulbs after his touchdown run against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, but he does not have a concussion.
Here’s what Charles told ESPN Radio earlier today:
"“It definitely hurt,” Charles said. “It’s like, I woke up — I mean, like, a couple plays later I was seeing light bulbs, like, light bulbs around my eyes, and I was trying to catch them. But I was in the game so I was like, ‘Alright, let’s get the ball and run again.’”"
Kansas City’s head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder came out this afternoon and said Jamaal went through all of the concussion tests both during the game and after the game and passed them all. Burkholder says the team will continue to monitor Charles throughout the week, but for now he is cleared to practice and play in Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams.
Charles’ statements plus the clearance from what has been a conservative Chiefs training staff – remember, Charles was pulled from a playoff game due to a concussion by this same staff – brings to light some of the flaws with the NFL’s concussion protocol. Reality is monitoring or diagnosing concussions is a far more complicated thing that just doing a few tests to check a player’s senses and their memory. Even with medical advances we still do not fully understand the workings of the human brain and what does or does not constitute a concussion.
Hopefully Charles is okay not just for the short term, but for the period of his life after football. It is clear from his comments that he suffered some sort of head injury even if the tests didn’t diagnose a concussion. Too many of those kinds of hits and Charles is going to have more problems than just trying to figure out a way to get past St. Louis’ defensive line.