BOCA RATON, Fla. - In the end, Bengals running back Giovani Bernard thought it was hilarious that the NFL on Monday handed down "The Giovani Interpretation," in his old stomping grounds.
"Boca is where I was a young buck in elementary school and middle school," Bernard said Tuesday night from his nearby Fort Lauderdale home after reading up on the rule. "I didn't really know about it until today. My Twitter account blew up and I had to do some research."
What he discovered is that thanks to his concussion in January's Wild Card Game, the NFL has re-interpreted its crown-of-the-helmet hits. If Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier gave that shot to Bernard in the flat today after he caught a pass and "took a nap on the field," there would have been no fumble at the Steelers 25 on third-and-nine late in the third quarter and there would have been a 15-yard penalty that the Bengals would have been close to a first-and-goal while trailing, 15-0.
"I'm glad they're making the game safe for everyone," Bernard said. "That's number one. Letting everybody play longer and add years to their careers, it was a good thing. The fact I am part of that play isn't the greatest thing. You never want to be the guy that gets knocked out, but if it's furthering the safety of the game, I'm glad to be a part of it."
Bernard has no problem with Shazier, who lowered his helmet and buried it in Bernard's cheek.
"He was playing football. He's a good player," Bernard said. "He's doing his thing. Just a young guy trying to make a name for himself."
After he was out cold for what looked to be a good five minutes on the field, Bernard remembered his name. He remembers watching the heart-breaking fourth quarter in the locker room with the injured, safety Reggie Nelson, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, and wide receiver James Wright.
"I took a nap on the field," Bernard said. "But I was ready to come back and play the next week. I remember the doctors saying when a person gets completely knocked out, he usually recovers faster than someone who just gets woozy."
Bernard could care less the call would not stand today.
"It doesn't matter now. It's over," he said. "It's time to get to the next season and be happy about it."
And Bernard, as he heads into his fourth year, is all about the next season.
"Dude, I just want to play another game and I want this next season to come so quickly," Bernard said. "The last couple of years we lost, but things just didn't work out. This past year the way it ended for everyone, it leaves that much more of a bitter taste in my mouth. I want to get back on the field so badly and I'm sure every guy in that locker room wants to get back on the field more than ever."