Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith said in an interview with USA Today on Thursday that the NFL needs more consistency in the use of its concussion protocol.
"Really sticking to the process and adhering to the process, no matter what the situation is -- that has to be consistent," Smith said. "You cannot have a guy like Cam (Newton) that lays down on the ground and say, 'OK, if he lays down on the ground, the protocol is this.' Then all the sudden, he's back in the game. You cannot have those kinds of things happening."
In the playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers quarterback Newton appeared to take a shot to the head, and he went down to one knee before getting to the sidelines. He returned to the game soon thereafter.
The NFL later said the Panthers followed the concussion protocol, noting that Newton's injury was an eye abrasion.
"You cannot have those kind of situations occurring where you have a guy dinged, and you see he's clearly dinged, and a week later, he's back on the field," Smith said, according to the USA Today report. "It can't be halfway in or halfway out, and the lines have to be clear and it has to be consistent, in order for something to actually work.
"This is a risky business. Decisions have to be made. But I think consistency is the one thing that I look for in any decision that's made."