Johnson: Tate statement clears the air
Stamps quarterback claims he’s just fine after passing concussion tests
The Tate pate, the man himself assures you, feels great.
“I got dinged in the second quarter and there was some fuzziness on that drive, but I obviously knew what I was doing and had no problems,” insisted the Calgary Stampeders quarterback, who Semifinal Sunday afternoon received a first-quarter, eyebrow-level, lowered-helmet Glaswegian kiss from 260-pound Rider D-lineman Tearrius George, in a statement released by the club Monday afternoon.
“By the time I got to the sideline and talked to everyone, I felt fine.”
Questions about Drew Tate’s health, as well as the wisdom of his continued presence in Sunday’s semifinal against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, were understandable after he himself told TSN during an on-field halftime interview that he couldn’t remember a blessed thing about the opening 30 minutes.
Combine that admission with the area of the hit he’d absorbed, and that set alarm bells started jangling.
Then Tate, for anyone in southern Alberta who’d missed it before, repeated the remark later in the Stamps’ dressing room, admitting “I just got my bell rung.”
Off Monday’s statement, the only thing muddled, apparently, was an interpretation of his comments, not his thinking.
His head, he insists, isn’t reverberating like a Chinese gong or vibrating like a struck tuning fork.
Ready to go.
“The reason I said I didn’t remember anything from the first half was because we didn’t play great and I just wanted to move on,” he continued in his statement. “Looking back, I answered that question way too casually, but it was because I just wanted to go start warming up for the second half. For me, I meant it like forgetting about a play and moving on to the next play during a game.
“After the game, I told media guys that I was having a hard time concentrating when they were asking questions. There was just so much adrenalin from winning the game, from everything that happened during the week with my family, with being named the starter. Again, I answered questions about the hit too casually because it wasn’t a big deal to me. I just said whatever because the moment was very overwhelming.
“As far as talk about a concussion, I didn’t get what the fuss was because I felt fine and just wanted to play. I told the doctors that when they were testing me on the sideline and in the locker-room at halftime. They said they were being precautionary and that was good, but I knew I was fine and just wanted to go.”
On Monday, the first of two days off for the victorious Stamps, coach John Hufnagel patiently went through the protocol Tate was subjected to after being levelled: An initial examination by team doctors on the sideline, then Scat2 tests at halftime, post-game and Monday morning, as well as a full neurological exam and Impact Test, all of which he “passed with flying colours.”
“He never complained about a memory loss,” said Hufnagel. “I’m not so sure Drew answered a serious question seriously enough. There might have been other reasons for him saying that besides the hit in the head.”
The Scat2 test, Hufnagel explained, is essentially a memory exercise, with those under concern asked to repeat a series of words, then a series of numbers backwards.
“He probably,” noted Hufnagel wryly, “scored better than I would.”
When asked if he felt comfortable if he expected his No. 1 quarterback to be locked and loaded for this weekend’s West final at BC Place, the boss didn’t hesitate a reply:
The hit, however, was enough to stir emotional embers inside the Stampeder locker-room post-game. Slotback Nik Lewis, for one, called out George, his friend and former comrade-in-arms. George vehemently denied charges of deliberately trying to hurt Tate.
“I looked at it,” said Hufnagel on Monday. “(George) lowered his head. You would like players not to do that. I don’t think he did it intentionally. I know Tea, obviously. And I just don’t think he’s that type of player. But obviously when you do have that type of contact it’s going to be remarked about.”
“That’s not my position. If the league feels it needs to be dealt with, they’ll deal with it.”
Offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson’s career was cut short due to concussion issues. He showed great feet in the pocket on Monday, too, though, also dancing away from pressure.
“I’m leaving that to people more knowledgeable than me. I’m not going to comment on the hit. Everybody saw what happened. My indication was that Drew was himself and playing well.
“I think our league has taken a lot of positive steps this year, handling the (headshot) situation. I will leave it with them. Yeah, they should look at it. Just because they (Saskatchewan) don’t have another game doesn’t mean that actions don’t need looking at. I expect the league will do their job.
“I think they’ve done a good job of letting the players know what’s acceptable and what’s not, so I expect Tom (Director of Officiating, Higgins) and the rest of the guys to look at it.”
On Sunday, Tate shook off the cobwebs of a lengthy injury absence to engineer a late, dramatic victory.
“He played good,” adjudged Dickenson. “There’s lot of things we can improve on. He did what we needed him to do. Things he can do that our other guys can’t. Extend plays, doesn’t look pretty but we get touchdowns out of it. He runs around, kind of pulls things out of his hat.
“Basically, though, he needs to be tighter on his reads. But knowing the pressure he was under and also because the last playoff game didn’t go his way, it was a great performance. And I think he’ll get better, too. That’s why the decision was made to play him.”
Monday, the Stampeders moved to defuse any potential concussion issue and assure everyone it’ll be business as usual in B.C. — with the only testing Tate is set to undergo this weekend coming courtesy a ravenous Lions defence.
George Johnson is the Herald’s sports columnist. E-mail him at email@example.com
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