NFL notebook: Seahawks CB Sherman rips concussion protocol

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman lashed out at the NFL concussion protocol, calling the process “an absolute joke.”

While answering questions in a column for the Players’ Tribune, Sherman said players continue to be exposed to some of the same risks and judgment lapses that existed prior to the league putting procedures in place to monitor for head injuries during games. Sherman pointed to Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage, who sustained a concussion during a hit in the team’s Week 14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Replay footage showed Savage twitching as he lay on the ground. He was helped to the sideline and examined before being allowed to resume playing. The NFL and NFLPA investigated and determined the Texans’ medical staff followed proper concussion protocol though their joint statement conceded improvements in the process were necessary.

“The Tom Savage play where he was looked at by the independent neurologist and they approved him to go back into the game, and now the team is being ridiculed. How about the league gets ridiculed for letting him go back in the game?” Sherman wrote. “Because they approved it. The independent neurologist, which is hired by the league, approved for him to go back in the game.”

–On the heels of the bombshell ESPN report that painted an internal power struggle between the New England Patriots’ “Big 3” of quarterback Tom Brady, head coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft, Brady is dealing with a new distraction ahead of the club’s Saturday playoff game against the Tennessee Titans.

On Thursday in his weekly meeting with reporters, Brady declined to get into the specifics of a new documentary on the five-time Super Bowl champion quarterback’s life called “Tom vs. Time.” The movie is set to be released in late January.

Some criticism arose of the timing of Brady’s documentary with the Patriots set to host the AFC divisional playoffs Saturday night in Foxborough, Mass. A trailer promoting the movie came out earlier this week.

“That’s a good question,” Brady said when asked about why he commissioned the documentary and what he hopes viewers will get from it. “This is about Tennessee. We’re two days from the biggest game of the year.”

–Former NFL head coach and veteran assistant Norv Turner has agreed in principle to join the Carolina Panthers as offensive coordinator, according to reports by Sports Illustrated and

Turner, 65, never achieved prominent success in his three stints spanning three decades as head coach in the NFL (114-122-1 career record with Washington, Oakland and San Diego). But he has remained a respected offensive coordinator since helping the Dallas Cowboys to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 1992-93. The Panthers are the seventh team to tab Turner as head of the offense, the last being the Minnesota Vikings from 2014-16.

In Carolina, Turner joins head coach Ron Rivera, Turner’s defensive coordinator for three seasons with the Chargers in 2008-10. The Panthers hope to revitalize their three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Newton, a one-time league MVP whose play has dipped since reaching the Super Bowl three seasons ago. Newton has thrown 30 interceptions over the past two seasons.

–The Oakland Raiders reportedly are facing NFL investigation into whether they violated the Rooney Rule when they hired Jon Gruden as coach.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which promotes diversity and equal opportunity in hires for coaching, the front office and scouting staffs of NFL teams, called Wednesday for the league to look into the chronology of Gruden’s hiring.

Fritz Pollard Alliance counsels Cyrus Mehri and N. Jeremi Duru expressed concern that Raiders owner Mark Davis may have struck a deal with Gruden before the team interviewed any minority candidates as required by the league. The Raiders had no immediate comment.

–Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell isn’t interested in being hit with the franchise tag for a second straight season.

In fact, the 25-year-old Bell hints that retirement is an option should the Steelers apply the tag again. Bell, who is making $12.1 million this season, said he would have no trouble sitting out the 2018 campaign.

“I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I would definitely consider it,” Bell told ESPN before Thursday’s practice in preparation for Sunday’s AFC Divisional playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

–First-time head coach Matt Nagy is set to name former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears.

Nagy will continue to call his own plays in an offense led by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. ESPN reported Helfrich will receive a four-year deal, which puts him on the same schedule as Nagy, while the Bears also named Harry Hiestand as offensive line coach for his second stint with the team (2005-09 being the first).

Helfrich became head coach at Oregon in 2013 when Chip Kelly left to run the Philadelphia Eagles. Helfrich went 37-16 over four seasons, leading Oregon to the first College Football Playoff championship game after the 2014 season.

–The Cincinnati Bengals introduced Teryl Austin as their new defensive coordinator.

Austin spent the past four seasons as Detroit’s defensive coordinator, but the Lions fired head coach Jim Caldwell last week. Austin replaces Paul Guenther, who joined the Oakland Raiders staff this week after 13 seasons in Cincinnati.

Austin inherits a Cincinnati unit that was 18th in the NFL in total defense but produced just 14 takeaways in 2017. The Lions finished ninth in total defense with 32 takeaways.

–Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is the front-runner to replace the retired Bruce Arians as the Arizona Cardinals’ head coach, according to a report from ABC-15 TV in Phoenix.

The report adds that the Cardinals covet Shurmur’s potential ability to recruit Vikings quarterback Case Keenum when his contract expires this spring. ESPN reported earlier this week that Shurmur and Keenum could be a package deal of sorts this offseason after the 29-year-old quarterback thrived in Shurmur’s system, posting career-best numbers during the regular season.

Shurmur, 52, has also drawn interest from the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears and New York Giants. Shurmur’s career record as a head coach is 10-23 — he went 9-23 as coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2011-12 and won a game as interim coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015.

–Gruden and the Oakland Raiders are scheduled to play the Seattle Seahawks at Tottenham Hotspur as part of a three-game NFL slate in the United Kingdom in October 2018.

Raiders-Seahawks is the opener on Oct. 14 with two games to follow Oct. 21 and Oct. 28: the Philadelphia Eagles will play the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Los Angeles Chargers will play the Tennessee Titans on those two weekends at Wembley Stadium in London. The order of those two games will be determined at a later date.

–Field Level Media