Head injuries are nothing to take lightly. The issue of concussions in the NFL has been on the front lines for many years now, and the NFL doesn’t take it as seriously as they should.
About a week ago* I suffered a pretty bad concussion when I was kicked in the face by a horse. Now I’m not comparing my injury to getting hit by a 250lb linebacker, but I was run over by a two ton animal and clocked in the face on his way out of the gate.
Luckily, I kept my teeth, and besides some bruising, there were no superficial wounds. But I was diagnosed with my second concussion. My first was about six years ago after getting bucked off of a horse, but I wasn't ready for the severity of this one.
For a week, I was nauseous all hours of the day. And it was crippling nausea. I couldn’t even walk downstairs without either throwing up or lying back down because I couldn’t take it. I also had a headache, no matter what pain medication I took. I couldn’t look at a computer screen, my phone, or even the TV for very long. I was also extremely irritable. (A lot more than usual, at least.)
Several people told me, "Now you know how NFL players feel." This got me thinking. If I was having trouble sitting at my desk, how do these players do it? How do they suit up, practice, get hit, do the hitting, and then wake up and do it the next day?
Yes, they make the big bucks for doing what they do. And yes, I am a little girl, and not a big tough NFL player. But we shared the same symptoms. When my head was hurting so bad I could only sleep it off, so was theirs. But the difference? They can’t sleep it off.
Pbs.org did a really interesting study on concussions in 2014. They have it broken down, by team, who suffered concussions, and how many games they missed.
There were 5 Titans who reported concussions in 2014. Safety Daimion Stafford missed one game after suffering a concussion in week 14 against the Giants. Tight end Delanie Walker missed one game after getting carted off the field against Baltimore in week 10. Poor Blidi Wreh-Wilson, who never could stay healthy, missed one game after a concussion in week 4. Running back Dexter McCluster suffered a concussion week 12, but did not miss a game following his injury.
Offensive tackle Terren Jones was a different case. Jones was briefly hospitalized during training camp because of a head injury, and then in week 14, he suffered his second concussion in four months, but this wasn’t on the league injury report until week 16.
I’m not going to call myself an expert on concussions, or preach that NFL players don’t need to ever play again after sustaining one. What scares me is how fast these guys return to the field. I know they have a will to play, and want to do everything they can to do their part, especially with guys like Walker, who had a big impact on the offense this season. Many players feel like they have no other choice, and it’s admirable that they put their team above their own health
But is it really worth it?
We hear so many horror stories of former players with traumatic brain diseases, and any of these players now could be just like that in 20, 30, years. The NFL is all about the here and now, but I truly think more needs to be done to help them in the long run. The NFL can’t continue to dismiss this issue and "deal with it later." Act now, and keep these guys off the field. I guarantee that if they did, the players will be thankful one day.
*- Take a moment to throw your hat, a la Bobby Shmurda