The NFL was rocked with a terrifying moment when Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph took a hard hit to the helmet during a rush, and collapsed to the turf unconscious.
Rudolph was hit almost simultaneously from behind by Brandon Carr and from the front by Earl Thomas. Replays showed Rudolph’s eyes rolling back as he lost consciousness, and his limbs flopped as he hit the Heinz Field turf.
Several Steelers appeared to be trying to shake Rudolph awake, and JuJu Smith-Schuster was spotted sobbing on the field.
JuJu’s reaction to Mason Rudolph’s limp, motionless body is absolutely devastating. pic.twitter.com/yjIcs2ZSpb— Josh Hill (@jdavhill) October 6, 2019
Shortly afterward, Rudolph was on his feet, talking to paramedics and his teammates with his facemask removed. He appeared to say “I’m good, I’m good,” as he was escorted off the field.
In a grim coda, the Steelers’ cart broke down on the field, meaning Rudolph had to walk off the field on his own. It was an absurd scene given the NFL’s resources and professed commitment to player safety.
According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the cart failed due to operator error. The NFL has already launched an investigation.
Rudolph was ruled out of the game shortly afterwards with a concussion.
Before the end of the game, Rudolph was taken to a nearby hospital for further evaluation. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, he has since been released from the hospital and is now resting at home.
“I didn’t think much of it,” Thomas said of the hit after the game, via the Post-Gazette. “I was just getting to the ball, trying to make a play for my team. I hit the strike zone like we talked about, I didn’t go high. I didn’t try to intentionally hurt him. I’m worried about him. I heard he’s at the hospital. My prayers go out to him and his family.”