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Broncos’ Russell Wilson will not play against Cardinals after suffering concussion last week

Wilson wanted to play, but was overruled
Colts Broncos Football
Posted at 2:03 PM, Dec 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-16 19:51:34-05

ENGLEWOOD – In a decision reflective of how much the climate has changed regarding head injuries, the Broncos chose to sit Russell Wilson this Sunday despite the quarterback clearing concussion protocol.

Wilson wanted to play, and thought he would start after passing the five phases of tests. However, ownership, general manager George Paton, coach Nathaniel Hackett and the medical staff discussed the issue over three days and determined Wilson would be inactive against the Cardinals.

"As an organization, we've decided to give him another week to get ready so he's ready to go for the Los Angeles Rams," Hackett said Friday.

"Russ is one of our ultimate competitors in this game. He's unbelievable. We informed him of the decision. He's not happy with it; he wants to be out there and play. He's very, very competitive, as we all know, and wants to compete for this team and be out there. We as an organization, after discussing and talking throughout this entire week, have decided it's best for our organization, it's best for Russell. We talked about this from the top all the way to the bottom. We looked at every single thing and just want to give him another week to get ready."

Wilson has never missed a game for a concussion in his 11-year career. It is believed that Wilson was knocked unconscious against the Chiefs. He eschewed his typical slide for a dive for the goal line — "I thought I was going to knock my way in for a touchdown," he explained — and slammed his head to the turf then had it pushed down by a defender. Slow motion replays showed a disturbing, empty glaze in his eyes. He tried to stay in the game, but his helmet was taken away as he walked to the locker room with a knot on the right side of his head.

"I always had it in my mindset that I was going to be ready this week. I felt the training staff and everybody did a great job going through all the protocol stuff. They wanted to give me another week to recover," Wilson said. "Obviously for me, I want to be out there on the field no matter what the circumstances are. At the same time, it was a collective decision by the organization."

This represents a fascinating decision when juxtaposed to the Miami Dolphin's handling of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's concussion issue earlier this season. He appeared to suffer brain trauma and showed signs of instability when he whiplashed his head against the Bills, but it was diagnosed as a back injury. He played the following Thursday and was concussed. It sounded an alarm from critics and concussion experts, who demanded the league take more measures to protect against potentially life-threatening head injuries.

The concussion protocol was amended in early October, prohibiting a player from returning to play if he shows ataxia, a term describing impaired balance or coordination caused by damage to the brain or nerves. In Wilson's case, he appeared to wobble when he walked off the field against the Chiefs.

I asked Wilson if he felt what happened with Tagovailoa impacted his situation.

"It's football, it's a physical sport. You sign up to compete. I wish I could have stayed in there (in the Chiefs game). I do think they want to make sure everything is safe," Wilson said. "It's fortunate. I am blessed. I know so many people go through concussions all around the world. Not just in football, but in other sports, and everyday life. It's a real thing that we can't take for granted with our brain and our safety. But as a competitor, no matter what our record is I want to be out there and help us win. How can I do that this week? By making sure all the young guys are ready to rock and roll."

Brett Rypien, who relieved Wilson early in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's loss against Kansas City, will start against the Cardinals Sunday.

“We’re very confident in Ryp, very excited about Ryp in this opportunity to go against the Arizona Cardinals," Hackett said.

Added Rypien, "Every opportunity you get is a blessing."

Wilson played one of his best games as a Bronco last Sunday before exiting with the concussion. He threw for 247 yards and three touchdowns, and added 57 rushing yards on four carries. Hackett said Wilson will return to play against the Rams on Christmas.

Jarrett Guarantano, signed to the practice squad when Josh Johnson was plucked away by the 49ers two weeks ago, will serve as Rypien's backup.