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From the Gridiron to the Ice Rink, Anders Lee Continues to Rack Up Points

The sport court was tucked away in a potholed parking lot, separated from the nearby railroad tracks by chain-link fencing and several banks of trees. It was old, small and relatively unsafe, at least for professional athletes playing touch football.

Several seasons ago, outside their former training facility in Syosset, N.Y., the New York Islanders began holding spirited 5-on-5 or 7-on-7 games before every practice. The tradition lasted just three weeks, perhaps predictably given the slipshod setting, cut short when defenseman Johnny Boychuk chased after a deep pass and wound up scraped and bruised. “I led him perfectly, but it was right into the fence,” the quarterback admits. “After that, we figured we should focus on our day jobs.”

This was probably for the best. Who knows how many other injuries might have occurred hunting down Hail Marys from Anders Lee? A decade before he became the NHL’s third-leading scorer, a net-front monster and deflection master, the 27-year-old left winger was shredding high schoolers in suburban Minneapolis, knocking cowered opponents back into second grade like Spike from Little Giants. Think his 46-goal pace through Wednesday seems gaudy? Try 1,982 passing yards and 1,105 more on the ground as a senior at Edina High School, along with 37 total TDs and Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year honors … in 10 games.

Just ask Kim Nelson. He was Edina’s head coach when Lee transferred there in 2007, prior to his junior season, looking to move closer to home. (The school was literally located across the street.) Back then Nelson ran a “fairly sophisticated” air-raid attack that sampled concepts from Urban Meyer, Mike Leach and Gus Malzahn, largely out of the shotgun with wide splits along the offensive line, and contained multi-tiered pass progressions named things like HOT SHALLOW DIG SHOOT.

?

“That style of offense was a little bit new to the Twin Cities area,” Nelson says. “Anders was just the right guy at the right time. He was an innovator, I guess.”

The thought sounds crazy today, but Lee always felt that football came more natural than hockey. “Getting away from people, seeing down the field, stuff like that,” he says, “I loved it.” As a signal-caller he was fast and physical, equally capable at designed quarterback counters and broken scrambles. Occasionally defensive coordinator Reed Boltmann tried to coax Nelson into letting Lee also line up at safety, the position that he had played before changing schools. “Hey, he’s the franchise,” Nelson replied. “If we lose him, we won’t have much left.”

“I’d probably compare myself to very lame high school Tebow,” says Lee. "I didn’t run a 4.4 or anything. Just tried to make plays and run and get guys open."

Granted, he wasn’t exactly surrounded by scrubs. One of the Hornets' offensive tackles attended Western Carolina. The defense was anchored by Zach Budish, a second-round draft pick by the Nashville Predators who spent several years in the minors. But Lee was the offense’s unquestioned leader, organizing team meals, giving younger teammates rides home, staying late to pick up the dummies after practice. Once, during summer 7-on-7s at a nearby high school, Edina trailed by a score with 30 seconds left. “Don’t worry, I got this,” Lee told Boltmann, and then connected on two straight passes to win the game. “He’s got a quiet confidence about him,” Boltmann says. “He was kind of an assistant coach, the guy everybody looked to.”

Mike Rallis remembers. These days he goes by Riddick Moss, fledging professional wrestler for WWE NXT, but in ‘07 he was Lee’s best wide receiver. One specific play stands out. Unbeaten through seven games, the Hornets were facing Wayzata for the Classic Lake Conference title. The call was 432 Switch, spread formation, two receivers on either side. Flushed from the pocket by two oncoming blitzers, Lee rolled to his left, flipped his hips and chucked a dime to a diving Rallis, who was double-covered on a post route. They both still remember what the television announcer said:

AT THE WAYZATA 37 … PLAY ACTION … LEE ... STANDING … TAKES A HIT AFTER HE THROWS ... AND IT’S CAUGHT BY RALLIS! WHAT A CATCH!

In an alternate universe—one without ice rinks, perhaps—Rallis figures that Lee would’ve become a legitimate dual-threat Division I quarterback. Maybe more.

”When I’m trying to do my armchair scouting of the NFL draft or something like that, I try to determine if I can picture a QB being a franchise guy,” says Rallis, who later played at the University of Minnesota and earned a tryout with the Dolphins. “He’s the kind of guy that you would build a franchise around, 100 percent. Just the way he carries himself, the way he works, the way he commits himself to the team and the game ... When I watch Russell Wilson, I see a lot of similarities in the way [Anders] would scramble and use his athleticism."

Plenty of football programs showed interest anyway. Northern Illinois, Air Force and Wyoming called. The hometown Gophers invited Lee to their junior day, where he recalls watching film with their offensive coordinator. Harvard offered him opportunities to play both football and hockey, which he found “really appealing. But that would’ve just been absurd, and probably not doable. My talents were not going to get me further than college football, and I’m okay with that.”

In his mind, the choice was easy. “My route was always through hockey,” he says. But NHL teams were concerned. On the second day of the the 2008 draft, his first year of eligibility, Lee was watching from a friend’s basement—and wearing a Chicago Blackhawks T-shirt, he recalls—when his phone rang. It was former Islanders assistant GM Ryan Jankowski, calling from their table on the draft floor, wondering whether Lee planned to continue playing football as a senior at Edina. Yes, Lee replied. He was the captain and the quarterback. He couldn’t quit now.

“I think this was a pretty unique case,” Islanders GM Garth Snow says, explaining why his and every other team passed on Lee that June, “and I think that’s what scared most teams away.”

Fortunately, the Islanders had another crack. Ranked 118th among North American skaters by NHL central scouting, 117 spots behind future linemate John Tavares. Lee went in the sixth round and No. 152. (As the pick was announced, he was busy working a job with Cutco, making cold calls to sell knives.) “Powerful, strong, really raw,” Snow says. “The biggest question mark was his skating. We just felt there was enough character and drive to improve.”

Their faith has been rewarded. With 26 goals in 46 games this season, two behind Alex Ovechkin for the league lead, Lee counts among the NHL’s preeminent power forwards; all but three of those strikes have occurred below the faceoff hashmarks, largely on tip-ins, redirections, second-chance efforts and rebound cleanups. He certainly looks the part, 6-foot-3 and 231 pounds with swooped hair and a square jawline, like Johnny Bravo on skates. (One assumes this makes Tavares, as team captain, Johnny Alpha.)

“Takes a lot of energy to play against Anders, I’d imagine,” coach Doug Weight says. “It’s a good thing for his linemates as well. [Opponents] use a lot of fuel up trying to prevent him from getting to the paint or getting in the goalie’s eyes. It’s a distraction. It’s a fatigue factor for the other teams. He knows where his fish is fried. I can use four more cliches if you want. He knows what’s going to make his money.”

Drawing parallels between Lee’s football background and his on-ice presence isn’t difficult. “He hits like a lineman,” Weight says. “He comes in with these big claws and smashes you against the boards.” Watch how he digs into position around the crease, massive legs bent and arms ready, like he’s about to execute 432 Switch from the shotgun again. Or how he out-muscled Devils defenseman John Moore toward a loose puck in the first period Tuesday night, bolting toward paydirt to put the Islanders ahead 1-0. “At that point everyone was behind me,” Lee said after. “I don’t get that many breakaways in hockey.”

He misses football sometimes, but the sport finds ways to hang around. It was an ongoing joke among the Notre Dame men’s hockey team that Lee should’ve grabbed a playbook during his freshman year, because the FIghting Irish were hurting for quarterbacks after starter Dayne Crist suffered a knee injury. One summer, Lee told Nelson that he was coming back home to Edina. “I’ll meet you, we’ll talk some football,” Nelson said. “A little HOT SHALLOW DIG SHOOT sounds good to me,” Lee texted back. As a native Minnesotan, he is obviously rooting for the Vikings throughout their present miracle run.

Rallis still thinks about their “magical” season together too. Last week, the wrestler was driving with Levi Cooper, who performs under the name Tucker Knight, en route to another show on their circuit. Somehow, the conversation landed on high school football. Out spilled the decade-old memories—how Rallis had called Lee that summer, hoping to recruit him to Edina before the latter eventually transferred; how Lee not only dropped one reverse pass from Rallis but batted the ball into the air so it got picked off; how he hurled that perfect pass to help beat Wayzata for the conference title, preserving Edina's undefeated year.

“That’s my quarterback,” Rallis says. “He’ll always be my quarterback.”

From the Gridiron to the Ice Rink, Anders Lee Continues to Rack Up Points

The sport court was tucked away in a potholed parking lot, separated from the nearby railroad tracks by chain-link fencing and several banks of trees. It was old, small and relatively unsafe, at least for professional athletes playing touch football.

Several seasons ago, outside their former training facility in Syosset, N.Y., the New York Islanders began holding spirited 5-on-5 or 7-on-7 games before every practice. The tradition lasted just three weeks, predictable given the slipshod setting, cut short when defenseman Johnny Boychuk chased after a deep pass and wound up scraped and bruised. “I led him perfectly, but it was right into the fence,” the quarterback admits. “After that, we figured we should focus on our day jobs.”

This was probably for the best. Who knows how many other injuries might have occurred hunting down Hail Marys from Anders Lee? A decade before he became the NHL’s third-leading scorer, a net-front monster and deflection master, the 27-year-old left winger was shredding high schoolers in suburban Minneapolis, knocking cowered opponents back into second grade like Spike from Little Giants. Think his 46-goal pace through Wednesday seems gaudy? Try 1,982 passing yards and 1,105 more on the ground as a senior at Edina High School, along with 37 total TDs and Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year honors … in 10 games.

Just ask Kim Nelson. He was Edina’s head coach when Lee transferred there in 2007, prior to his junior season, looking to move closer to home. (The school was literally located across the street.) Back then Nelson ran a “fairly sophisticated” air-raid attack that sampled concepts from Urban Meyer, Mike Leach and Gus Malzahn, largely out of the shotgun with wide splits along the offensive line, and contained multi-tiered pass progressions named things like HOT SHALLOW DIG SHOOT.

“That style of offense was a little bit new to the Twin Cities area,” Nelson says. “Anders was just the right guy at the right time. He was an innovator, I guess.”

The thought sounds crazy today, but Lee always felt that football came more natural than hockey. “Getting away from people, seeing down the field, stuff like that,” he says, “I loved it.” As a signal-caller he was fast and physical, equally capable at designed quarterback counters and broken scrambles. Occasionally defensive coordinator Reed Boltmann tried to coax Nelson into letting Lee also line up at safety, the position that he had played before changing schools. “Hey, he’s the franchise,” Nelson replied. “If we lose him, we won’t have much left.”

“I’d probably compare myself to very lame high school Tebow,” says Lee. "I didn’t run a 4.4 or anything. Just tried to make plays and run and get guys open."

Granted, he wasn’t exactly surrounded by scrubs. One of the Hornets' offensive tackles attended Western Carolina. The defense was anchored by Zach Budish, a second-round draft pick by the Nashville Predators who spent several years in the minors. But Lee was the offense’s unquestioned leader, organizing team meals, giving younger teammates rides home, staying late to pick up the dummies after practice. Once, during summer 7-on-7s at a nearby high school, Edina trailed by a score with 30 seconds left. “Don’t worry, I got this,” Lee told Boltmann, and then connected on two straight passes to win the game. “He’s got a quiet confidence about him,” Boltmann says. “He was kind of an assistant coach, the guy everybody looked to.”

?

Mike Rallis remembers. These days he goes by Riddick Moss, fledging professional wrestler for WWE NXT, but in ‘07 he was Lee’s best wide receiver. One specific play stands out. Unbeaten through seven games, the Hornets were facing Wayzata for the Classic Lake Conference title. The call was 432 Switch, spread formation, two receivers on either side. Flushed from the pocket by two oncoming blitzers, Lee rolled to his left, flipped his hips and chucked a dime to a diving Rallis, who was double-covered on a post route. They both still remember what the television announcer said:

AT THE WAYZATA 37 … PLAY ACTION … LEE ... STANDING … TAKES A HIT AFTER HE THROWS ... AND IT’S CAUGHT BY RALLIS! WHAT A CATCH!

In an alternate universe—one without ice rinks, perhaps—Rallis figures that Lee would’ve become a legitimate dual-threat Division I quarterback. Maybe more.

”When I’m trying to do my armchair scouting of the NFL draft or something like that, I try to determine if I can picture a QB being a franchise guy,” says Rallis, who later played at the University of Minnesota and earned a tryout with the Dolphins. “He’s the kind of guy that you would build a franchise around, 100 percent. Just the way he carries himself, the way he works, the way he commits himself to the team and the game ... When I watch Russell Wilson, I see a lot of similarities in the way [Anders] would scramble and use his athleticism."

Plenty of football programs showed interest anyway. Northern Illinois, Air Force and Wyoming called. The hometown Gophers invited Lee to their junior day, where he recalls watching film with their offensive coordinator. Harvard offered him opportunities to play both football and hockey, which he found “really appealing. But that would’ve just been absurd, and probably not doable. My talents were not going to get me further than college football, and I’m okay with that.”

In his mind, the choice was easy. “My route was always through hockey,” he says. But NHL teams were concerned. On the second day of the the 2008 draft, his first year of eligibility, Lee was watching from a friend’s basement—and wearing a Chicago Blackhawks T-shirt, he recalls—when his phone rang. It was former Islanders assistant GM Ryan Jankowski, calling from their table on the draft floor, wondering whether Lee planned to continue playing football as a senior at Edina. Yes, Lee replied. He was the captain and the quarterback. He couldn’t quit now.

“I think this was a pretty unique case,” Islanders GM Garth Snow says, explaining why his and every other team passed on Lee that June, “and I think that’s what scared most teams away.”

Fortunately, the Islanders had another crack. Ranked 118th among North American skaters by NHL central scouting, 117 spots behind future linemate John Tavares. Lee went in the sixth round and No. 152. (As the pick was announced, he was busy working a job with Cutco, making cold calls to sell knives.) “Powerful, strong, really raw,” Snow says. “The biggest question mark was his skating. We just felt there was enough character and drive to improve.”

Their faith has been rewarded. With 26 goals in 46 games this season, two behind Alex Ovechkin for the league lead, Lee counts among the NHL’s preeminent power forwards; all but three of those strikes have occurred below the faceoff hashmarks, largely on tip-ins, redirections, second-chance efforts and rebound cleanups. He certainly looks the part, 6-foot-3 and 231 pounds with swooped hair and a square jawline, like Johnny Bravo on skates. (One assumes this makes Tavares, as team captain, Johnny Alpha.)

“Takes a lot of energy to play against Anders, I’d imagine,” coach Doug Weight says. “It’s a good thing for his linemates as well. [Opponents] use a lot of fuel up trying to prevent him from getting to the paint or getting in the goalie’s eyes. It’s a distraction. It’s a fatigue factor for the other teams. He knows where his fish is fried. I can use four more cliches if you want. He knows what’s going to make his money.”

Drawing parallels between Lee’s football background and his on-ice presence isn’t difficult. “He hits like a lineman,” Weight says. “He comes in with these big claws and smashes you against the boards.” Watch how he digs into position around the crease, massive legs bent and arms ready, like he’s about to execute 432 Switch from the shotgun again. Or how he out-muscled Devils defenseman John Moore toward a loose puck in the first period Tuesday night, bolting toward paydirt to put the Islanders ahead 1-0. “At that point everyone was behind me,” Lee said after. “I don’t get that many breakaways in hockey.”

He misses football sometimes, but the sport finds ways to hang around. As a native Minnesotan, he is obviously rooting for the Vikings throughout their present miracle run. It was an ongoing joke among the Notre Dame men’s hockey team that Lee should’ve grabbed a playbook during his freshman year, because the Fighting Irish were hurting for quarterbacks after starter Dayne Crist suffered a knee injury. One summer, Lee told Nelson that he was coming back home to Edina. “I’ll meet you, we’ll talk some football,” Nelson said. “A little HOT SHALLOW DIG SHOOT sounds good to me,” Lee texted back. As a native Minnesotan, he is obviously rooting for the Vikings throughout their present miracle run.

Rallis still thinks about their “magical” season together too. Last week, the wrestler was driving with Levi Cooper, who performs under the name Tucker Knight, en route to another show on their circuit. Somehow, the conversation landed on high school football. Out spilled the decade-old memories—how Rallis had called Lee that summer, hoping to recruit him to Edina before the latter eventually transferred; how Lee once showed a brief shred of gridiron mortality by dropping a reverse pass from Rallis that got intercepted; how he later clinched the conference title against Wayzata by swatting down a deep ball at safety to preserve Edina's undefeated year.

“That’s my quarterback,” Rallis says. “He’ll always be my quarterback.”

London Irish director wants scrapping of Premiership promotion and relegation

London Irish director of rugby Nick Kennedy says Premiership ring-fencing will be to England’s benefit.

How Tom Savage's Concussion Should Have Been Handled

How was Tom Savage allowed to return to the field so soon after suffering a concussion Sunday against the 49ers? The NFL announced Monday it had launched an investigation to answer that question, and to see if the established procedure for evaluating players during a game could be strengthened. Which raises an additional question: What exactly is that process again?

When a player receives impact to the head, he, a teammate, coach, NFL official, trainer, spotter, or independent neurological expert can remove him from play to conduct a sideline exam. From there, the player is either returned to play, sent to the locker room for further testing, or immediately placed in the concussion protocol, depending on the assessment by the head team trainer (who is assisted by an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant). It's up to them—not any coaches—to determine whether a player is fit to play. They can use just about any evidence in making their ruling, including a player's speech pattern, his gait, his eye movement, his response to a set series of questions and—notably in this case—video review of the hit in question.

Video of Savage squirming after hitting the ground (diagnosed as a seizure by uneducated armchair neurologists, but more likely an instance of fencing response, an instinctual reaction to head trauma) was the main fuel for outrage on Sunday. Why didn't it prevent medical personnel from allowing Savage to re-enter the game and play three more downs? Two trained spotters in the booth have access to the TV feed, as does the sideline medical staff (though replays can't be viewed by coaches, for competitive strategy purposes). However, Texans coach Bill O'Brien intimated that head Houston trainer Geoff Kaplan had not seen the hit and Savage's reaction before making his diagnosis; O'Brien said Monday, "With benefit of seeing video . . . I would have never let that player back in the game and I don't believe that Geoff Kaplan would have allowed that player back in the game." So maybe that's where the process broke down in this case. Hopefully the league investigation provides answers.

The way to avoid that type of mistake could be to flip the testing paradigm around. Rather than having players re-enter the game unless they show obvious signs of concussion, doctors could keep them out until they are sure the player is healthy (maybe for a minimum of a quarter), allowing time for further evaluation of the player as well as the play that forced the testing. But teams and players will have to decide whether they can live with key players potentially staying on the sideline before it is revealed that they were not, in fact, concussed.

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Conor Orr stacks up the NFC playoff race post-Wentz ... Andy Benoit studies the Steelers without Ryan Shazier ... Peter King hands out awards ... and more.

LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Our new Power Rankings poll ... Greg Bishop shows how painful an NFL Sunday is ... Jenny Vrentas recaps a week with the Eagles ... and more. Stay tuned.

PRESS COVERAGE

1. Dolphins 27, Patriots 20. With Rob Gronkowski suspended, the Dolphins held the visiting Patriots from converting a single third down (0-for-11). At 6-7, Miami is still in the wild-card hunt, while New England now heads to Pittsburgh, trailing the Steelers in the race for the conference's top seed.

2. Carson Wentz had a message for fans after having his season ended by a torn ACL. “I promise,” he said on Twitter. “This will not stop me and I will come back stronger than ever.” Stacey Burling explains what's in store for Wentz now.

3. During his first media availability since suffering a severe leg injury against the Saints, Bears tight end Zach Miller said he's undergone eight surgeries on that leg now. He bent it for the first time last Friday . . . painfully. He's not sure if he'll ever play football again; for now he's killing time playing Madden.

4. The Seahawks may have avoided suspensions for their actions at the end of Sunday's game, but that doesn't mean Pete Carroll is happy about them. “Everybody is remorseful,’’ Carroll said Monday. “We don’t want to play like that. We don’t want to look like that, ever.’’

5. With Wentz out of the picture, the Vikings suddenly have a clearer path to the Super Bowl. But will offensive line instability, which doomed them after a 5-0 start a year ago, cost them again?

6. The Lions are in a weird spot. At 7-6 with the Bears and Bengals next on the schedule, they're still alive in the playoff hunt. At the same time, Jim Caldwell seems to be coaching for his job. Despite that, he deflected credit for Detroit's resiliency of late.

7. In Esquire, Richard Sherman gave a wide-ranging interview. On the topic of head injuries, he said, "the league hasn’t done much outside of appeasing public opinion." And that was just the second question.

8. Ben McAdoo may be gone, but the chaos continues in East Rutherford. The latest scandal is Eli Apple tweeting (including retweeting a Cowboys highlight) during Sunday's loss. Want the Giants' 2017 in a sentence? "Spagnuolo said he was not aware of the content of the tweets."

9. Big news for non-Verizon customers: you could be able to watch local and national NFL games on your phone as soon as January.

10. Meet the Austin Yellow Jackets, Texas's Only Female Football Team Coached Solely by Women.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.

THE KICKER

A week after Eli Manning was benched, another historic streak came to an end.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

How Tom Savage's Concussion Should Have Been Handled

How was Tom Savage allowed to return to the field so soon after suffering a concussion Sunday against the 49ers? The NFL announced Monday it had launched an investigation to answer that question, and to see if the established procedure for evaluating players during a game could be strengthened. Which raises an additional question: What exactly is that process again?

When a player receives impact to the head, he, a teammate, coach, NFL official, trainer, spotter, or independent neurological expert can remove him from play to conduct a sideline exam. From there, the player is either returned to play, sent to the locker room for further testing, or immediately placed in the concussion protocol, depending on the assessment by the head team trainer (who is assisted by an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant). It's up to them—not any coaches—to determine whether a player is fit to play. They can use just about any evidence in making their ruling, including a player's speech pattern, his gait, his eye movement, his response to a set series of questions and—notably in this case—video review of the hit in question.

Video of Savage squirming after hitting the ground (diagnosed as a seizure by uneducated armchair neurologists, but more likely an instance of fencing response, an instinctual reaction to head trauma) was the main fuel for outrage on Sunday. Why didn't it prevent medical personnel from allowing Savage to re-enter the game and play three more downs? Two trained spotters in the booth have access to the TV feed, as does the sideline medical staff (though replays can't be viewed by coaches, for competitive strategy purposes). However, Texans coach Bill O'Brien intimated that head Houston trainer Geoff Kaplan had not seen the hit and Savage's reaction before making his diagnosis; O'Brien said Monday, "With benefit of seeing video . . . I would have never let that player back in the game and I don't believe that Geoff Kaplan would have allowed that player back in the game." So maybe that's where the process broke down in this case. Hopefully the league investigation provides answers.

The way to avoid that type of mistake could be to flip the testing paradigm around. Rather than having players re-enter the game unless they show obvious signs of concussion, doctors could keep them out until they are sure the player is healthy (maybe for a minimum of a quarter), allowing time for further evaluation of the player as well as the play that forced the testing. But teams and players will have to decide whether they can live with key players potentially staying on the sideline before it is revealed that they were not, in fact, concussed.

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Conor Orr stacks up the NFC playoff race post-Wentz ... Andy Benoit studies the Steelers without Ryan Shazier ... Peter King hands out awards ... and more.

LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Our new Power Rankings poll ... Greg Bishop shows how painful an NFL Sunday is ... Jenny Vrentas recaps a week with the Eagles ... and more. Stay tuned.

PRESS COVERAGE

1. Dolphins 27, Patriots 20. With Rob Gronkowski suspended, the Dolphins held the visiting Patriots from converting a single third down (0-for-11). At 6-7, Miami is still in the wild-card hunt, while New England now heads to Pittsburgh, trailing the Steelers in the race for the conference's top seed.

2. Carson Wentz had a message for fans after having his season ended by a torn ACL. “I promise,” he said on Twitter. “This will not stop me and I will come back stronger than ever.” Stacey Burling explains what's in store for Wentz now.

3. During his first media availability since suffering a severe leg injury against the Saints, Bears tight end Zach Miller said he's undergone eight surgeries on that leg now. He bent it for the first time last Friday . . . painfully. He's not sure if he'll ever play football again; for now he's killing time playing Madden.

4. The Seahawks may have avoided suspensions for their actions at the end of Sunday's game, but that doesn't mean Pete Carroll is happy about them. “Everybody is remorseful,’’ Carroll said Monday. “We don’t want to play like that. We don’t want to look like that, ever.’’

5. With Wentz out of the picture, the Vikings suddenly have a clearer path to the Super Bowl. But will offensive line instability, which doomed them after a 5-0 start a year ago, cost them again?

6. The Lions are in a weird spot. At 7-6 with the Bears and Bengals next on the schedule, they're still alive in the playoff hunt. At the same time, Jim Caldwell seems to be coaching for his job. Despite that, he deflected credit for Detroit's resiliency of late.

7. In Esquire, Richard Sherman gave a wide-ranging interview. On the topic of head injuries, he said, "the league hasn’t done much outside of appeasing public opinion." And that was just the second question.

8. Ben McAdoo may be gone, but the chaos continues in East Rutherford. The latest scandal is Eli Apple tweeting (including retweeting a Cowboys highlight) during Sunday's loss. Want the Giants' 2017 in a sentence? "Spagnuolo said he was not aware of the content of the tweets."

9. Big news for non-Verizon customers: you could be able to watch local and national NFL games on your phone as soon as January.

10. Meet the Austin Yellow Jackets, Texas's Only Female Football Team Coached Solely by Women.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.

THE KICKER

A week after Eli Manning was benched, another historic streak came to an end.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

How Tom Savage's Concussion Should Have Been Handled

How was Tom Savage allowed to return to the field so soon after suffering a concussion Sunday against the 49ers? The NFL announced Monday it had launched an investigation to answer that question, and to see if the established procedure for evaluating players during a game could be strengthened. Which raises an additional question: What exactly is that process again?

When a player receives impact to the head, he, a teammate, coach, NFL official, trainer, spotter, or independent neurological expert can remove him from play to conduct a sideline exam. From there, the player is either returned to play, sent to the locker room for further testing, or immediately placed in the concussion protocol, depending on the assessment by the head team trainer (who is assisted by an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant). It's up to them—not any coaches—to determine whether a player is fit to play. They can use just about any evidence in making their ruling, including a player's speech pattern, his gait, his eye movement, his response to a set series of questions and—notably in this case—video review of the hit in question.

Video of Savage squirming after hitting the ground (diagnosed as a seizure by uneducated armchair neurologists, but more likely an instance of fencing response, an instinctual reaction to head trauma) was the main fuel for outrage on Sunday. Why didn't it prevent medical personnel from allowing Savage to re-enter the game and play three more downs? Two trained spotters in the booth have access to the TV feed, as does the sideline medical staff (though replays can't be viewed by coaches, for competitive strategy purposes). However, Texans coach Bill O'Brien intimated that head Houston trainer Geoff Kaplan had not seen the hit and Savage's reaction before making his diagnosis; O'Brien said Monday, "With benefit of seeing video . . . I would have never let that player back in the game and I don't believe that Geoff Kaplan would have allowed that player back in the game." So maybe that's where the process broke down in this case. Hopefully the league investigation provides answers.

The way to avoid that type of mistake could be to flip the testing paradigm around. Rather than having players re-enter the game unless they show obvious signs of concussion, doctors could keep them out until they are sure the player is healthy (maybe for a minimum of a quarter), allowing time for further evaluation of the player as well as the play that forced the testing. But teams and players will have to decide whether they can live with key players potentially staying on the sideline before it is revealed that they were not, in fact, concussed.

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Conor Orr stacks up the NFC playoff race post-Wentz ... Andy Benoit studies the Steelers without Ryan Shazier ... Peter King hands out awards ... and more.

LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Our new Power Rankings poll ... Greg Bishop shows how painful an NFL Sunday is ... Jenny Vrentas recaps a week with the Eagles ... and more. Stay tuned.

PRESS COVERAGE

1. Dolphins 27, Patriots 20. With Rob Gronkowski suspended, the Dolphins held the visiting Patriots from converting a single third down (0-for-11). At 6-7, Miami is still in the wild-card hunt, while New England now heads to Pittsburgh, trailing the Steelers in the race for the conference's top seed.

2. Carson Wentz had a message for fans after having his season ended by a torn ACL. “I promise,” he said on Twitter. “This will not stop me and I will come back stronger than ever.” Stacey Burling explains what's in store for Wentz now.

3. During his first media availability since suffering a severe leg injury against the Saints, Bears tight end Zach Miller said he's undergone eight surgeries on that leg now. He bent it for the first time last Friday . . . painfully. He's not sure if he'll ever play football again; for now he's killing time playing Madden.

4. The Seahawks may have avoided suspensions for their actions at the end of Sunday's game, but that doesn't mean Pete Carroll is happy about them. “Everybody is remorseful,’’ Carroll said Monday. “We don’t want to play like that. We don’t want to look like that, ever.’’

5. With Wentz out of the picture, the Vikings suddenly have a clearer path to the Super Bowl. But will offensive line instability, which doomed them after a 5-0 start a year ago, cost them again?

6. The Lions are in a weird spot. At 7-6 with the Bears and Bengals next on the schedule, they're still alive in the playoff hunt. At the same time, Jim Caldwell seems to be coaching for his job. Despite that, he deflected credit for Detroit's resiliency of late.

7. In Esquire, Richard Sherman gave a wide-ranging interview. On the topic of head injuries, he said, "the league hasn’t done much outside of appeasing public opinion." And that was just the second question.

8. Ben McAdoo may be gone, but the chaos continues in East Rutherford. The latest scandal is Eli Apple tweeting (including retweeting a Cowboys highlight) during Sunday's loss. Want the Giants' 2017 in a sentence? "Spagnuolo said he was not aware of the content of the tweets."

9. Big news for non-Verizon customers: you could be able to watch local and national NFL games on your phone as soon as January.

10. Meet the Austin Yellow Jackets, Texas's Only Female Football Team Coached Solely by Women.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.

THE KICKER

A week after Eli Manning was benched, another historic streak came to an end.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

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Scherma, Fencing Grand Prix Torino 2017 Trofeo Inalpi

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