The Cost of a Win: Luke Kuechly in Concussion Protocol

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Fan favorite Luke Kuechly, the Carolina Panthers’ 25-year-old linebacker, crying uncontrollably during Thursday night’s home game against the New Orleans Saints.

“So often, the guys have helmets on and you think them as gladiators, and Luke Kuechly last night did not look like a gladiator when he rolled off on the cart like that. He looked like a scared young man,” says Scott Fowler. Fowler, a columnist for the Charlotte Observer, is one of Charlotte’s most well-respected sports writers. While some wonder if Kuechly will play again, Fowler wonders something else. “Will Luke Kuechly ever play again? I certainly think he will. But will he play again this season? I think that’s the real question,” Fowler says.

Kuechly’s last concussion sidelined him for three games. There are six games left this season.

Chris Stulginsky is a physical therapist in Charlotte at Ayrsley Town Rehabilitation who treats concussed athletes. He says team doctors could be restricting Kuechly’s screen time or exposure to loud noises. “You could have a situation where he’s in meetings today or they’re reviewing game tape, even the simple idea of taking notes and looking back up at a film screen would not be able to be done because the movement could exacerbate his symptoms,” says Stulginksy.

Fans were relieved to see a picture of a smiling Kuechly that fellow linebacker Thomas Davis posted to social media Friday.

But sports reporter Bill Voth, founder of the popular Black and Blue Review, warns fans to be patient. He says, “One of the most warped parts of football culture is that we take torn ACLs and broken bones so much more seriously than we take brain injuries. And this is what has to change. And unfortunately, the more this happens, the more it will change. But that also puts the game of football in danger because it is so ridiculously serious.”

Kuechly is now under the league’s concussion protocol.