On Michael Crabtree's temporary vision loss

San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree recently said he lost vision temporarily following a hard hit during the final moments of Super Bowl XLVII.

Significant story? No big deal?

Crabtree, who made the revelations to NFL Network, opened another small window into the life of an NFL player. Crabtree said such things happen "all the time" and that he had not suffered a concussion. A check of records shows Crabtree has never appeared on an NFL injury report for injuries relating to anything other than a knee, foot or illness.

Crabtree made headlines recently for repeating past comments about quarterback Colin Kaepernick trusting him more than former starter Alex Smith trusted him. His comments about losing his vision subsequently turned into a story played prominently on our NFL page. A few thoughts come to mind:

  • Concussion issue: Crabtree said his symptoms were not concussion-like. However, had Crabtree promptly reported his vision loss to medical personnel, doctors presumably would have initiated their concussion protocol, a process that likely would have kept Crabtree on the sidline while the final few plays ran out. The concussion protocol does seek information regarding "visual problems" and "blurred vision" without mentioning temporary vision loss specifically. Again, Crabtree apparently showed no other effects.

  • What Crabtree said: Crabtree described temporary vision loss as commonplace. He also was fairly imprecise in his language, saying he "really couldn't see" and saying, in general, that big hits make it so that "it's going to feel like you can't see" -- comments leaving room for interpretation. What Crabtree says casually during an interview would be insufficient for any sort of diagnosis, obviously. But with player safety topping the NFL's own agenda while former players sue the league in large numbers, the subject is worth our discussion.