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Darren McFadden: If players can hide concussions, they probably do

Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden is no stranger to injuries. The former fourth overall pick is now in his fifth season, and it is going to be the fifth in which he has not been able to play a full 16 games. There are injuries players can battle through and others that they can’t, and McFadden has apparently never had an NFL season without one of the ones you can’t play through.

McFadden’s knees have generally been the issue, but from the sound of it a mild concussion would not keep him out of action. During a recent interview with 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, he touched on the increasingly popular discussion of NFL players playing through head injuries.

“I guess with concussions, most guys look at it, if you can hide it, they probably do,” McFadden said. “But if sometimes it’s those deals where you can’t hide it at all, you have no choice but to tell somebody. I think it’s one of those things that if you can deal with it, a lot of guys will probably do that.”

The more they say it, the more we have no choice but to believe it. While Roger Goodell would like the general public to think the NFL is efficient in dealing with concussions and making sure players are held out if they sustain one, that’s just not the case. Both former players and current NFL stars have admitted that playing through concussions is a part of the game. The NFL is working to change that, but there’s always going to be only so much team doctors can do.

Thanks to Sports Radio Interviews for transcribing the quotes

Willie Parker: ‘If you get a concussion, why would you tell?’

Add former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Willie Parker to the list of players who admit they would hide concussion symptoms if it meant getting back into a game. The NFL has recently made a serious push to improve their methods for identifying players who are concussed during games and holding them out of action for as long as needed. People like Parker remind us of why the league is doing it.

Parker spoke with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently and was asked if he believes players will change their mentality of wanting to play through concussions.

“Not if you have any fight in you,” Parker said. “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?”

The reason, he says, is that players put their teammates ahead of themselves.

“For me, it was the team first,” Parker said. “That’s how I looked at it. You don’t want to let your brother next to you down.”

Steelers running backs Jonathan Dwyer and Chris Rainey basically said the same thing as Parker, noting that if they can stand up they are going to shake it off and try to get back onto the field. Some of the NFL’s biggest superstars have said that playing through concussions are part of the game and Troy Polamalu even admitted he has lied about his symptoms in order to keep playing.

The NFL wants to change the mentality of guys like Parker and Polamalu, but it doesn’t seem like they are having much luck. All they can do is attempt to improve their methods for identifying the symptoms.

Helmet knock to Pro Football Talk

Ed Reed: If you want to stop concussions, stop football in general

The NFL has decided to overturn the one-game suspension it gave Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed earlier this week for his hit on Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. However, the league is still fining Reed $50,000 for the play, and that’s something he is not happy about.

“It really needs to be discussed for a fine to come down like that so harshly for that hit,” Reed said according to ESPN.com. “Over my career and for them to go back to 2010 for me scratching Drew Brees on the head, even the one that happened in Week 2 with Michael Vick, c’mon, man. I’m going for the ball. It’s a contact sport.”

Reed has been called a head-hunter, which is obviously a categorization he takes offense to. Like James Harrison of the Steelers, he is one of the hardest hitters in the game and a player who has been disciplined by the league multiple times. His hit on Sanders was his third violation in three seasons of the rule prohibiting helmet-to-helmet contact on a defenseless receiver.

“It is tackle football,” he continued. “It is a contact sport and a brutal one, a violent one at that, the No. 1 violent sport, sad to say.

“I know concussions has been a big thing. I’ve had concussions before, and I know guys are going to have concussions. If you want to stop it, stop the game. Like people say, it’s starting to be a flag football thing. I have a flag football tournament. We can make this a big thing if we want to, everybody can come get in my league.”

By now every player in the NFL should realize that the league’s stance on vicious hits and helmet-to-helmet shots is not flexible — no matter how many complaints there are. It was recently revealed that the NFL has paid more than $2 million in disability settlements to former players who suffered permanent brain damage as a result of playing. The league will to anything it can to prevent similar situations from arising in the future, even if it means making examples of the game’s biggest stars.

NFL reportedly paid $2 million in disability to former players, despite denying link between football and brain damage

A joint investigation conducted by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and PBS’ “Frontline” show could shed new light onto the issues surrounding the long-term effects of concussions players suffer while playing in the NFL. Despite the fact that the NFL has consistently denied any link between playing in the NFL and long-term brain damage, unpublished documents and medical records revealed that the league paid at least $2 million in disability benefits to players in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

According to the investigation, the disability board determined in 1999 that Hall of Fame center Mike Webster and other players suffered brain damage while playing. Awarding players compensation for head injuries completely contradicts the public stance the NFL has taken regarding concussions.

Bob Fitzsimmons, a lawyer who represented Webster in 1999 and co-director of the Brain Injury Research center, said the settlements could create major issues for the NFL.

[Read more...]

Calvin Johnson on getting hit: ‘You get concussed, you gotta keep on playing’

Calvin Johnson and the NFL have very different views on the issue of concussions. The league has spent a good deal of time, money and effort over the past couple of years trying to make the game of football safer — or at least create the illusion that they are doing so. Team doctors now have the authority to keep players off the field if they fail concussion tests, but none of us are naive enough to think it is that cut and dry.

According to Johnson, who took a helmet-to-helmet shot from Minnesota’s Chad Greenway two weeks ago, getting a concussion and heading back onto the field is all part of the game.

“He rung my bell pretty good, he got me, he caught me around the chin, that was a good hit,” Johnson told The Stoney and Bill Show on 97.1 The Ticket, according to CBS Detroit. “It’s a part of football, you get concussed, you gotta keep on playing. You can’t get afraid to go across the middle any more than you were at the beginning.”

Johnson said the Lions medical staff gave him a basic concussion test that included following their finger and answering questions about what day of the week it was and what game he was playing in. On Thursday, head coach Jim Schwartz said Megatron was thoroughly evaluated before reentering the game.

“Our evaluation was he was not concussed, he was thoroughly checked, we are very strong in our evaluation,” Schwartz explained. “He was cleared to go back in the game … We are very strong in our evaluation. We are, we as an organization, we have some credibility when it comes to concussions, so just leave it at that.”

This past weekend, Robert Griffin III reportedly failed the same type of test Johnson was given and did not return to the game, so obviously the issue is taken seriously. That being said, in an era where players choose law school over football because of the risk of head injuries and others openly admit to lying about concussion symptoms to get back into a game, the NFL doesn’t want to hear Megatron talking about playing while concussed.

Helmet knock to Pro Football Talk

Robert Griffin III reportedly did not know score, quarter of game after concussion

Robert Griffin III was drilled in the head during the third quarter of the Redskins-Falcons on Sunday and suffered a “mild” concussion on the hit. The Redskins rookie quarterback left the game after being concussed, and his mental condition was so bad he reportedly had trouble recalling details about the game.

According to reporters, Washington coach Mike Shanahan said after the game that Griffin did not know the score and quarter of the game after being hit.

Griffin did not return after the hit and was replaced by Kirk Cousins.

Cousins, a fourth-round draft pick, went 5/9 for 111 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. The Redskins lost 24-17.

Griffin will have to pass concussion tests in order to be cleared for the team’s Week 6 game against the Vikings. If he couldn’t recall the score and quarter of the game after that hit, then I’d tend to think the concussion was worse than the “mild” variety Washington described it as.

Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Josh Cribbs’ family wanted him to retire after hard hit from Ravens

Josh Cribbs took a nasty hit while returning a punt in the first quarter of last week’s Browns-Ravens game, and it was so bad it reportedly moved his family to ask him to retire.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Cribbs’ wife and brother both told him he had nothing left to prove and encouraged him to walk away from football to preserve his health.

“Everyone was calling and couldn’t stop crying,” Cribbs told the Plain Dealer. “My brother, who’s the reason why I’m playing football, even he wants me to stop.

“They’re saying, ‘I know you love the game but we don’t want you to play anymore,’” he said of his own family. “They’re like, ‘Family’s more important. You’ve got so many years of your life. You’ve showed enough good football.’

Cribbs returned to practice on Wednesday, six days after suffering a concussion from the hit. His wife reportedly is still concerned about his health.

“She wants me to get a CAT scan, especially with what happened to [former Browns running back Jerome Harrison, who had a brain tumor removed]. I still go over to his house every now and then and talk to him. He’s doing pretty bad. He’s in and out of the hospital with seizures. They just don’t want the same thing to happen to me.”

Cribbs, a two-time Pro Bowl returner, has been playing since 2006. He’s been on the receiving end of hard hits in the past, most notably from former college teammate James Harrison in 2010. He doesn’t seem ready to give it up, but he might want to take his family’s advice and seriously consider it.