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In the wake of recent incidents where a potentially concussed Arian Foster was allowed to retake the field without clearing the concussion protocol and running back Bernard Pierce was observed trying to set a block when he was actually supposed to be tackling the runner, the NFL elected to revise the concussion protocol yet again to reduce confusion about player eligibilty.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were a horrible joke, but [team] Doc[tor Kevin] Kaplan didn’t laugh until Bortles came to him one week later and pleaded again, without any real expectation of success, to be benched. Doc Kaplan smirked once and was soon immersed in problems of his own, which included Justin Blackmon, who had been challenging him all that morning to a drinking contest, and T.J. Yeldon, who decided right then and there to go crazy.
Bortles looked at him soberly and tried another approach. “Is Bernard Pierce concussed?”
“He sure looks like it,” Doc Kaplan said.
“Can you bench him?”
“I sure can. But first he has to ask me to put him through the concussion protocol. That’s part of the rule.”
“Then why doesn’t he ask you to?”
“Because he’s concussed,” Doc Kaplan said. “He has to be concussed to forget whether his team is kicking or receiving after having his bell rung like that. Sure, I can bench Pierce. But first he has to ask me to.”
“That’s all he has to do to be benched?”
“That’s all. Let him ask me.”
“And then you can bench him?” Bortles asked.
“No. Then I can’t bench him.”
“You mean there’s a catch?”
“Sure there’s a catch,” Doc Kaplan replied. “Catch-22. Anyone who has the presence of mind to think that he might be concussed isn’t concussed.”
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the face of dangers that were real and accumulated over the course of a player’s career was the process of a rational mind. Pierce had suffered brain damage and should be benched. All he had to do was ask to be put through the concussion protocol; and as soon as he did, it would be evident that his brain was functioning properly and he would have to play more downs. Pierce had to be insensible to want to subject himself to more hits and completely rational if he didn’t, but if he was lucid enough to ask to come out he had to get his malingering ass back out onto the field. If he played he was concussed and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was healthy and had to. Bortles was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.
“It’s the best there is,” Doc Kaplan agreed.