Anyone who has been paying even the slightest attention to the NFL these past few years knows that the NFL and NFLPA have started to pay closer attention to the diagnosis and after-effects of concussions. In Saturday night's preseason loss to the Browns, Ryan Grant suffered a head injury that caused him to wobble as he attempted to make his way to the sideline.
After the training staff spent a few minutes talking to him and looking him over, Grant finally made his way to the sideline, where he spent the rest of the evening. After the game, when asked if he would have returned had it been a regular season game, Grant replied:
I would’ve tried to. I don’t know how that goes now with the whole (concussion) situation. I promise you I would’ve at least tried.
Now, as fans, we are supposed to applaud this attitude. We want our guys to want to get back in the game. Brett Favre added to his legendary career back in 2004 when he got back in a game against the Giants after he had suffered what was later diagnosed as a concussion. He did this against his coach's (and trainer's) wishes. But after throwing a 4th down touchdown pass, all anyone talked about was how "awesome" it was that Favre would go back in, concussion be damned.
That was then. This is now.
It would be a slap in the face to all the people who have worked so hard to bring this issue to the forefront if fans did anything but urge Grant to sit out for at least one game. He should not partake in any contact this week in practice.This is the second time Grant has suffered a hit like this, the last one being the Bears game in Lambeau in 2008 when Mike Brown and Grant collided on a play that kept Grant out for a number of plays...and then, there he was. Back in the game.
You think I'm being over-dramatic? That this concern is overblown?
I want you to read this feature from Malcolm Gladwell that appeared in the New Yorker last October.
It's a fine line we walk as football fans. We cheer the big, bone-crunching hits. We bray for pain to be delivered to the opposing quarterback in the form of a helmet to the sternum or a tomahawk chop to the throwing arm. We applaud wildly when a running back and a safety collide, each one dipping his head down, each one trying to get low and deliver (or absorb) a blow...with their head.
These guys play an unbelievably dangerous game. Yes, for the most part they are very well compensated. But only for a short time. And we, as the spectators, as the driving force behind the game, should never again allow a player to enter into a game the way Favre did and not be appalled. And not take him to task.
I know there is a group of the NFL fanbase that would say: "Hey, it's his decision. It's his life. If he wants to play, let him play."
And while I understand that viewpoint, I can never again, in good conscience, number myself among them.
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