Dallas Cowboys Medical Staff Under Fire After Dak Prescott Appears to Use Smelling Salts

Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys in the second quarter against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on October 21 in Landover, Maryland. Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys medical staff have come under intense criticism after a video emerged showing Dak Prescott allegedly using smelling salts after taking a serious hit.

The footage shows the Cowboys quarterback standing on the sideline and taking a whiff of what appears to be smelling salts.

Chris Nowinski, co-founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, described the incident as a "new low for medical abuse of players," suggesting the NFL's response would probably be limited to banning smelling salts.

I cannot believe a Dallas Cowboys staffer just gave Dak Prescott SMELLING SALTS minutes after a #concussion evaluation!!!!!!!! What is wrong with the @NFL????

This is a new low for medical abuse of players. pic.twitter.com/ThZamGsGO4

— Chris Nowinski, Ph.D. (@ChrisNowinski1) October 21, 2018

My predictions on fallout from Dak Prescott #AmmoniaGate:

1. #NFL #concussion committee holds an emergency meeting this week, bans smelling salts for players that have been evaluated for #concussion.

2. @CBS gets yelled at by #NFL for putting it on camera twice. pic.twitter.com/rcBwl0QH8H

— Chris Nowinski, Ph.D. (@ChrisNowinski1) October 21, 2018

Prescott suffered a shoulder-to-helmet hit as he was rushing to get to the first down marker during Dallas's 20-17 defeat in Washington on Sunday. The 25-year-old, however, was stopped in his tracks by Redskins cornerback Greg Storman and was slow to get up, before being looked at in the medical tent on the sideline.

Commentating for CBS, former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo immediately recognized the severity of the impact.

"That's a concussion," he said.

"He's going to be done. He doesn't know where he is."

Tony Romo immediately concerned for Dak Prescott after this huge shot #CowboysNation #DALvsWAS pic.twitter.com/MDjo43hWJN

— Joey Hayden (@_joeyhayden) October 21, 2018

However, the Cowboys radio broadcast appeared to have a different opinion of the incident, suggesting Prescott was getting his hand checked instead.

Dak Prescott caught on camera using smelling salts after he was checked for a concussion. Cowboys radio broadcast said he was getting his "hand" checked. Never seen someone use smelling salts to help their hurt hand. https://t.co/fFciHdNJ2S

— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) October 21, 2018

Dak Prescott says he was checked for a concussion, but was cleared. He said his use of smelling salts is common, and not an unusual thing. Also had his hand checked. Played through it all, to throw for 273 yards and a TD (also ran for a score). But the fumble is what looms.

— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) October 22, 2018

He eventually returned to action in the Cowboys' next possession and did not miss a play, even throwing a 49-yard touchdown pass later in the game to Michael Gallup. The incident, however, has thrusted the issue of concussion and the NFL's stance over it firmly back in the spotlight.

One of the most common injuries in fast, high-contact sports such as NFL and rugby, concussion can lead to severe issues, ranging from memory loss to depression, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and dementia.

A study published last year in the medical journal JAMA showed a staggering 99 percent of the brains of deceased NFL players that were donated to scientific research showed signs of CTE.

Over the last seven years, a number of players—including former 49ers star Dan Marino—have filed class action lawsuits against the league over concussion-related injuries, and in 2016 the NFL implemented a new policy to enforce concussion protocol. In the same year, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the 32 club owners pledged to donate $100 million in support of medical research, on top of a similar sum they had previously committed to neuroscience research.

In July, Seattle Seahawks linebacker Joshua Perry was forced to retire at 24 due to concussion issues, only a week after former University of Michigan linebacker Mike McCray walked out of the game citing similar issues.

McCray, who was added to the Miami Dolphins roster as a priority undrafted free agent in the off-season, explained he felt he needed to leave football because he had sacrificed his wellbeing for too long.