Rudolph Recounts Thomas Hit, Recovery

Watch as Steelers QB speaks for first time since being knocked out vs Ravens

Josh Rowntree
October 21, 2019 - 2:18 pm

Mason Rudolph is unable to remember the hit that knocked him out cold, and out of the Steelers’ 26-23 loss to Baltimore on October 6. 

Rudolph was hit in the jaw by the helmet of Ravens safety Earl Thomas, immediately causing Rudolph to go unconscious and crash to the ground.

“I did not remember the play, at all," Rudolph said after Monday's practice. "But (I did remember) everything before the play and after the play. It was weird. I had to kind of go back and ask the coach, ‘what was the play call,’ because, for some reason, just that play was kind of blank.”

A hit that had many fearing the worst turned out to be one that looked to be more damaging than it actually was. 

“By the next morning I felt fine,” Rudolph said. “I had a minor headache that night, but the next morning I started to come back. I slept really great and never had any other symptoms like sensitivity to light. I’ve only had one concussion prior, too, in high school.”

Rudolph participated in a limited capacity during practice last week, eventually sitting out of Sunday night’s win over the Chargers.

“I feel great,” he said. “I checked all the boxes with the (concussion) protocol situation. It was frustrating to have to sit out when I felt pretty close to normal, pretty fine, clear in the head. It was the best thing for my long-term health. We’ve got a lot of specialists here, so I complied with their thoughts. 

“I’m a competitor and I like to feel like I know my body. But the thought process from the specialist was, ‘if you take a lesser hit, you could be out for longer.’ I was just more vulnerable at that point, so I really didn’t have a choice. I’ll look back on this, ten years down the road, and I’ll be glad that I did sit out for a week. But I wasn’t happy in the moment.”

As Rudolph recalled the moments following the hit, some of the details seemed a bit hazy for him.

“Once I got up in the locker room I started to (have his memory come back),” he said. “I had a little short-term memory (loss). It all started to come back not long after I started to refresh myself.”

Bizarrely, Rudolph walked off the field with the assistance of teammates. It took many people by surprise, as Rudolph was never placed on a backboard or the medical cart, which broke down on the field and had to be pushed off by paramedics and medical staffers. But Rudolph confirmed the Steelers’ statement after the game, that the cqrt was not needed.

“I didn’t wave them off,” he said. “When I was on the ground, they made me move my arms and legs and made sure I didn’t have any type of spinal cord injury. 

“There was plenty of memes about the cart not working, but I wouldn’t have needed to be in the cart because I passed all the tests on the ground. I would have walked off regardless of if the cart was operational or not.”

Thomas, the following week, told reporters in Baltimore that he had reached out to Rudolph to check on him and apologize for the hit, which drew a 15-yard penalty, but that Rudolph had not responded.

“I don’t know if there was a miscommunication, but I responded to him,” Rudolph said. “Justice Hill, a running back from Oklahoma State (and former teammate of Rudolph’s), I made sure Justice knew that I did respond to him and that I appreciate him reaching out and doing the class thing.”