BEREA - When Colt McCoy began his post-game news conference after the Browns' 14-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, a member of the media relations staff asked for the camera lights to be dimmed.
That was an indication McCoy had suffered a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit with linebacker James Harrison late in the fourth quarter Thursday night at Heinz Field. The first indication should have been made by medical personnel on the sideline in the moments after the vicious hit that appeared to render McCoy unconscious.
According to coach Pat Shurmur, he was never told McCoy shouldn't return to the game. Instead, the second-year quarterback was back on the field just two plays after backup Seneca Wallace was put in. Two plays after that, McCoy's pass for Mohamed Massaquoi into the end zone from the Steelers' 16 was intercepted by William Gay.
The Steelers scored on a 79-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Aaron Brown on their next possession to seal the win.
Shurmur said that McCoy didn't start to develop concussion-like symptoms until after the game. Although the players were given Friday off, McCoy, along with the other injured players, reported to the team facility for further evaluations. He was sent home after reporting that he didn't feel well.
"I was told Colt could go back into the game," Shurmur said. "He came right up next to me and said, 'Ready to roll,' so he went back in."
The decision didn't sit well with McCoy's father, Brad. In a story in "The Plain Dealer," Brad said that Colt was knocked out and didn't remember throwing the pass that Gay intercepted. Brad watched the game on television and didn't see any tests for a concussion being administered to his son. He believes Colt never should have been put back in.
"I can understand a dad's feeling in this matter," Shurmur said. "I'm the father of a son who plays quarterback. I get it. I wouldn't want my son in harm's way if he's showing those symptoms. We were not aware of that at the time.
"The McCoys are terrific people who love their son and want the best for him. I feel very confident that if he wasn't able to play, we would have stopped him."
Brad said Colt was given a ride home from the airport by tight end Evan Moore.
He was able to drive to the facility Friday morning.
Shurmur's son Kyle recently completed his freshman season at Lakewood St. Edward High School. Pat is learning about the father-son relationship in a football realm just as Brad and Colt dealt with it when Brad coached his oldest son in high school.
Pat said he might reach out to talk to Brad in the coming days.
"I get the emotion of all of this, I really do," Pat said. "I can assure everyone that we follow the protocol. At one point during the game I told Colt, 'I'm going to talk to you like I talk to my son.' I have a lot of compassion for our players."
Prior to suffering the concussion, Colt was having another difficult day against one of the NFL's best defensive units. He finished 18 of 35 for 209 yards and two interceptions.
Shurmur didn't want to get into the long-term evaluation of Colt.
"We've seen him do a lot of good things this year," Shurmur said. "I would characterize all of his games that he battled through them. As far as the offseason discussions, we have three games to go starting with Arizona in a week or so."