CALGARY - At the tail end of Drew Tate’s emotional post-game interview, a notably persistent Pat Clayton waited for the media to disperse before attempting to summon the quarterback to his training room.
It’s evident now the highly respected director of team medical services was anxious to once again run a concussion test on the Calgary Stampeders quarterback.
“One more (interview) — just one more,” said Tate as he walked down a locker-room hallway, prompting Clayton to exhale in apparent frustration.
The exchange may perfectly sum up how things went down Sunday night at McMahon Stadium with regard to the possibility of Tate having a concussion.
While Clayton obviously took the possibility seriously, Tate didn’t.
And that, said Stamps GM/head coach John Hufnagel, is perhaps why Tate told TSN at the half he had no recollection of the first two quarters after having his “bell rung” during the Red & White’s 36-30 CFL West Division semifinal victory.
“I think he answered a serious question not serious enough,” said Hufnagel of his quarterback.
Tate confirmed just that in a statement Monday afternoon aimed at burying the obvious controversy that stems from the possibility a concussed player was allowed to continue playing.
“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,” Tate said. “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. 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. By the time I got to the sideline and talked to everyone, I felt fine.”
Hufnagel confirmed the team followed proper concussion protocol at the half, after the game and Monday morning by administering a series in tests including a Scat 2 test. He also took part in an impact test Monday by strapping on a helmet, hitting the sled and seeing if there were any symptoms. All clear, says the team.
The impact of the helmet-to-helmet hit from Tearrius George that left the Stamps starter stunned on the turf while grasping his helmet in apparent pain for several seconds was significant.
But to suggest he literally lost all memory of what he did before and right after that hit was, quite frankly, non-sensical. After all, had he been completely clueless, he wouldn’t have been able to author the second-half heroics that led to a last-minute win over the Roughriders in the West semifinal.
Tate was unquestionably an emotional wreck after the game — something he all but admitted through tears as he struggled to answer questions about the dramatic last-minute victory and the recent death of his beloved Gran.
“After the game, I told media guys that I was having a hard time concentrating when they were asking questions,” said Tate, who reiterated post-game he was serious about the memory loss but denied being concussed.
“There was just so much adrenaline from winning, from everything that happened during the week with my family, with being named the starter. I answered questions about the hit too casually because it wasn’t a big deal to me. 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.”
The league looked into the situation, too, as the proper handling of concussions is one of the biggest issues in sports today.
Simply put, as one player put it, “Tate is one different dude.” A quick chat with the 28-year-old reveals the uber-confident Texan marches to the beat of a different drum.
Yes, George should be disciplined. And, yes, Tate will continue to be watched closely by Clayton.
But no, given the fact proper concussion protocol was, indeed, followed, it’s evident Tate’s halftime comment was simply a mistake — a head game of sorts.
On Twitter: @ericfrancis