The C-Word: Concussions in Today’s NFL


Nov 11, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (54) reacts after making a play against the Houston Texans during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

Since we have been little kids playing in the back yards to the school yards to the ball fields one thing that hasn’t changed when someone collides and gets knocked down is this saying, Get UP you’re not a girl!!  These words like there are no crying in baseball have spoken for years but now it’s 2012 and certain injuries are not what we first thought or may never know over a long period of time.

There have been many dreaded words spoken when an injury diagnosis was given.  In the 1970’s and early 80’s when a pitcher was hurt and the diagnosis was rotator cuff, it was almost like having the death certificate signed for that player.  The biggest name to ever have this injury was rookie of the year and very quirky Mark Fidrych who career was cut down almost after it started with his breakout season.  Technology finally caught up with this injury and now their are different surgeries like Tommy John to heal arm troubles.

In the late 80’s and 90’s the word that you didn’t want to hear from the doctor was ACL.  Even back in the 60’s guys would tear up their knees and not recover, but when guys started getting bigger and faster it seemed like that one ligament was their Achilles heel.  Jamal Anderson was on his way to having a great career after leading the Falcons to the Super Bowl and all it took was one cut and he was done, not to mention the other great athletes that missed significant time until technology caught up with it, and now Adrian Peterson suffered the injury at the end of last season and now leads the NFL in rushing this season.

Back to 2012 and the word of terror around sports is concussion.  Athletes keep getting bigger and faster and on the NFL field the collisions keep getting more violent.  The problem with the concussion is that their isn’t a specific time frame for healing.  Back in the day you would get yelled at just to get up or in the case of old school NFL guys it was their introduction to smelling salts.  The worrisome thing for a lot of people is the long term effects all these collisions have on the brain.  Dave Duerson committed suicide and his brain was tested for disease that could have led to his taking his own life.

Players today in the moment probably don’t see it that way.  Brian Urlacher made the statement that he would lie about having a concussion if possible to stay on the field.  Most old school guys before the NFL had specific head trauma standards did the same thing.  It was almost like gaining your man card status.  Do you think Dick Butkus or Mike Singletary would have come off the field if they were woozy?

The time frame for the injury is the most frightening thing about this injury and that the time takes longer each time you accumulate concussions.  Take the NHL where the biggest star of their game Sidney Crosby almost missed an entire season with a concussion, and Chicago’s own Jonathan Toews missed the last quarter of the season with a concussion even though he played a few lackluster games with one until finally wanting to get better.

In our own NFC North division Javid Best will miss a season and a half if not the rest of his career with a concussion he received in October of 2011.  This has to be the biggest concern going forward at the NFL offices when it comes to keeping their product strong and the long term possibilities of staying the new National past time.  It’s scary for the NFL that 4 starting quarterbacks were injured this past weekend and 3 of them were concussions including the two starting QB’s for Monday night’s prime time game.

Maybe the technology part will not come from the medical end of things but the equipment end. At a press conference this week Urlacher blamed the new helmets for not being safe, and that he used his old helmet.  All football manufacturers should put their research dollars together and find the safest most effective head equipment as soon as possible for not only the pro’s but starting at pop warner on up through high school and college to the pro’s.

Players no matter what the age are not soft if you get your bell rung. It is a huge injury and technology hasn’t caught up with it and doesn’t seem close.  Jay Cutler may be on the sidelines this Monday night because of a concussion, but I would want him totally healthy before getting behind center than going out their at 80 percent with the chance of one hit ending his season or career.

It’s a dirty word but hopefully it will be extinct like rotator cuffs and ACL sooner than later!