TCU Coach Berated Dr. For Protecting KO’d Player

Kevin O’Reilly of the American Medical Association had an extremely troubling report out of Ft. Worth this week from TCU football team physician Dr. Samuel Haraldson.

Gary Patterson Dr. Samuel Haraldson

(Dr. on Patterson’s staff? The truth shall get you fired.)

Haraldson reported to the AMA that after TCU football player Ed Wesley was literally knocked unconscious and later suffered memory loss during a Sept. 24 game against SMU, the doctor was “insanely” berated by TCU head coach Gary Patterson when Haraldson refused to allow Patterson to put Wesley back in the game.

Haraldson in the AMA report:

“Then five or six plays later, I literally was verbally accosted by the coach, screaming at me insanely at the top of his lungs that he doesn’t think [Wesley] has a concussion and what right do I have to hold him out.”

More from the AMA’s O’Reilly:

“Then five or six plays later, I literally was verbally accosted by the coach, screaming at me insanely at the top of his lungs that he doesn’t think [Wesley] has a concussion and what right do I have to hold him out,” Dr. Haraldson said.

Once TCU took control of the game, going on to win 41-24, TCU Coach Gary Patterson returned and “cast a pseudo-apology” for the outburst, Dr. Haraldson said.

Asked days after the game by ESPN Dallas about Wesley’s condition, Patterson said the sophomore running back was fine. “As far as I’m concerned,” the coach added, “he was fine 10 minutes after he got hurt.”

With TCU football staff member Dr. Haraldson exposing Patterson’s appalling actions, which are infinitely worse than what supposedly got Mike Leach fired at Texas Tech, it was a given that Haraldson would soon be forced to release a subsequent statement painting Patterson in a favorable light.

At least if the doctor wanted to keep his job.

Haraldson didn’t disappoint.

“TCU takes tremendous pride in the care it provides its student-athletes. Coach Patterson wasn’t aware of the full details of the incident, and I take responsibility for that. We sat down and talked it over, and it’s all been worked out. I apologized to Coach Patterson, and he apologized to me.”

Haraldson apologized to Patterson for keeping a player out of the game who had been previously knocked unconscious and was displaying acute concussion symptons?

Opposite day!

After he was exposed for his behavior, Patterson also spun the situation on ESPN Radio and was inexplicably supported by the TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte:

“Both Dr. Haraldson and Coach Patterson have apologized to each other and we’ve moved forward. We consider the matter closed.”

No investigation of Patterson’s conduct.

I’ve seen some media defending Patterson by noting that Wesley was never put back in the game. While that’s notable, the bigger issue is how intimidation of a team doctor by a head coach could affect diagnosis of future player brain injuries during games.

After standing up for what he thought was right, and relating his story to the AMA, Haraldson later completely changed his version of events. What’s that tell you about his relationship with Patterson?

If Patterson was a losing coach and this incident happened during the Leach vs Craig James and Lew Perkins vs. Mark Mangino fiascos, think Patterson would’ve been treated differently?

What players should know by now is that whether or not you end up with a permanent brain injury depends on, in order:

1) Your coach’s record.

2) The honesty and ego of the school’s athletic director and president.

3) If there are current stories in the sports media involving concussions.

4) Your doctor’s opinion.

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