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Jack Sisson's TBI Blog
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Sunday, November 25, 2012
Head trauma awareness up, but many NFL players are tuning it out
When the NFL and the NFL Players Association completed their 10-year labor deal last year, they agreed to commit more than $100 million over its duration to medical research, primarily that of brain injuries.
Since NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was questioned at congressional hearings in 2009 about the league’s approach to concussions and whether head injuries in football can be linked to brain disease, the league has toughened its standards and improved its methods for diagnosing and treating concussed players.
There are campaigns by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin about awareness, and even Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott is a spokesman for the league’s cause.
Concussion awareness has never been greater in the eyes of the NFL. But the win-at-any-cost culture of among most players seemingly still exists. Despite the potential long-term effects of repeated blows to the head, players are loathe to take themselves out of a game for medical precautions.
• Steelers safety Ryan Clark suffered two concussions in a 15-day span — and didn’t miss a game.
• Teammate Troy Polamalu has been diagnosed with “eight or nine” concussions over his career but told “The Dan Patrick Show” during the offseason that he lied about having concussions in the past. “Yes, I have, for sure,” Polamalu said, noting that he has chosen to play injured despite the team’s medical staff advising him otherwise.
• Steelers linebacker James Harrison has estimated he had a dozen unreported concussions during his career.
• San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith stayed in the game for several plays after he suffered a concussion against St. Louis two weeks ago.
• The next night, Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler played seven snaps after his concussion.
• Steelers running back Isaac Redman was diagnosed with a concussion during last week’s game against Baltimore and said he was “woozy” as late as Tuesday. He passed a concussion test and was on the practice field the next day. He was cleared a day later and will be on field Sunday against the Browns.
• Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher said recently he would cover up a concussion if it meant staying on the field.“There’s a lot of risk, but there’s a lot of reward in (football),” Clark said. “You can provide a great life for your family. You get great relationships. We get paid well. But you know there’s going to be some risk to it, especially if you play the way that I play it.”
‘Why Would You Tell?’
One hundred and 58 players are on the season-ending injured reserve list but only five because of concussions, with the biggest name being Detroit running back Jahvid Best.Yet there are 14 players on this weekend’s injury report with concussions. Five are listed as probable, and two of those are expected to play Sunday and have not missed a game.
Last week, Sporting News released the results of a survey of 103 players from 27 teams that asked whether they would hide concussion symptoms to stay on the field. Fifty-six percent said yes.
Former Steelers running back Willie Parker said it’s a similar mentality today as he played from 2004-09.“For me, it was the team first,” said Parker, who signed with the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent and fought to beat out a future Hall of Famer (Jerome Bettis) and a notable free agent signee (Duce Staley). “That’s how I looked at it. You don’t want to let your brother next to you down.
"Will that mentality change?"
“Not if you have any fight in you,” said Parker, who broke a leg toward the end of the 2007 season and never was the same. “You have to have fight in you, hunger in you and that dog in you. If you get a concussion, why would you tell? Why would you say something?”
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