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Brian Urlacher Says He Would Hide Concussion from Team Doctors

Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher is an old school player with an attitude. He hits hard, talks crap, and is strict about the way his son is raised. That’s why it’s no surprise to hear him say he would hide a concussion from a team doctor.

“If I have a concussion these days, I’m going to say something happened to my toe or knee just to get my bearings for a few plays,” he told HBO’s Andrea Kremer during an interview for Real Sports. “I’m not going to sit in there and say I got a concussion, I can’t go in there the rest of the game.”

Urlacher also told Kremer he would take the painkiller Toradol despite its health risks which include kidney failure and gastrointestinal bleeding.

“First of all we love football,” Urlacher explained. “We want to be on the field as much as we can be. If we can be out there, it may be stupid, it may be dumb, call me dumb and stupid then because I want to be on the football field.”

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said the same thing earlier this season. Maurice Jones-Drew said he would risk concussions for his family. I understand these guys love football and want to help their teams at almost all costs, but I still don’t think messing with concussions is a good idea. They’ll likely pay a price in the end.

Maurice Jones-Drew Calls Concussions Occupational Hazards, Would Risk them for His Family

The NFL’s thoughts on concussions has evolved. While concussions were largely ignored throughout football history, they have been treated more seriously lately. Congress got the League’s attention by speaking with Roger Goodell. Media pressure, medical studies, and lawsuits from former players has helped convey their severity. Many people realize how awful concussions can be, but Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew still doesn’t seem to see it.

“The only reason they’re making a big deal about concussions right now is because the league is getting sued over it,” Jones-Drew told reporters, according to The Florida Times-Union. “Before this, you never heard about it. A couple of years ago, you didn’t hear anything about it. Let’s not make something out of nothing. Yeah, people are getting messed up. That happens. Most of the time it’s because they’re not wearing mouth pieces and they’re probably doing some other stuff. Obviously, back in the day they were doing some things that weren’t going to help your body out. It’s 2012; there’s ways to fix your body. Sometimes that means you have to pay the price.”

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Rob Gronkowski Says He’d Hide Concussion Symptoms to Play vs. Eagles

Rob Gronkowski had a big game for the Patriots on Monday night, catching four passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-3 win over the Chiefs. The 6’6″ tight end dove for the end zone on his second touchdown and was flipped by Derrick Johnson. He landed on his head and neck, and his cranium ended up perpendicular to his torso (pictured above).

Gronk was clearly dazed after the touchdown, but he managed to do his trademark spike afterwards. The training staff examined him on the sidelines and he continued to play in the game. He even joined ESPN’s Monday Night Football crew for an interview after the victory.

The hosts asked Gronk how he was after the touchdown. Steve Young specifically pointed out that Gronkowski looked groggy after the touchdown, and asked if the tight end remembered the moment or if he went out for a second.

“I remember the moment and everything,” Gronk said. “If I didn’t I still wouldn’t even say I didn’t. I’m trying to play this week hahaha.”

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Peyton Manning Says He’s Tanked His Baseline Concussion Test

As the medical field continues to learn more about the harmful effects of concussions, sports leagues are becoming increasingly concerned about players suffering the injuries. The NFL became more sensitive to concussions last season, holding concussed players out of games who typically would have played in the past. But one issue raised by Alex Marvez last week is that some players could try to fudge their medical exams so they can play. One strategy to beat the test he wrote about was using ritalin to improve focus in concussion tests. Another is by tanking their baseline exam, which is something Peyton Manning admitted to doing.

Pro Football Talk pointed out that in a recent interview Peyton said he purposely does bad on his baseline exam. “They have these new [brain] tests we have to take. Before the season, you have to look at 20 pictures and turn the paper over and then try to draw those 20 pictures. And they do it with words, too. Twenty words, you flip it over, and try to write those 20 words. Then, after a concussion, you take the same test and if you do worse than you did on the first test, you can’t play. So I just try to do badly on the first test.”

Whether Peyton was joking is for you to decide, but this is no laughing matter. Marvez had said players were already trying to cheat concussion tests and Peyton’s comments support that sentiment. I’m not sure how to police that other than by developing a new test, but I’ll say what I’ve said before: if players want to screw up their first test on purpose and end up with scrambled eggs for brains, that’s their issue. You just hope they’d be wise enough and thinking long-term enough not to do that. At least that’s my hope.

NFL Players Could Use Ritalin to Pass Concussion Tests

The NFL as well as many other professional sports have begun to crackdown on concussions now that medical evidence has shown how damaging they can be. MLB has enacted a disabled list specifically for concussions, the NHL is cracking down on head shots, and the NFL is penalizing players for head shots in addition to holding most players out at least a week after sustaining concussions. While many people realize how serious concussions are, there are still some people who question them. There are also players who don’t want to miss any game action because of them and they’ll do anything to ensure they’re on the field.

One strategy players may use to “beat” concussion tests may be trying to fudge their baseline exam. Another strategy players may use is taking Ritalin after concussions to help them pass post-concussion tests.

BeyondChron.org says players taking Ritalin to pass concussion tests has already started happening at the NFL level. According to them, using Ritalin “makes perfect sense. Ritalin is the medication prescribed most notoriously for “hyperactive” kids and sufferers from ADD (attention deficit disorder), with the goal of improving mental focus. Inevitably, professional athletes and their handlers would seize on Ritalin’s ability to mask the fact that they hadn’t entirely “cleared the cobwebs” from recent blows to the brain.”

Great, as if having players and trainers making efforts to beat drug tests isn’t bad enough now we have people scheming to beat concussion tests. You know what? There’s only so much you can do to protect a person. If they want to have scrambled eggs for brains I guess that’s their business.

Rick Pitino on Concussions: I Don’t Buy It

Awareness of concussions in sports has grown enormously in recent years.  As we’ve seen with all the to do surrounding head shots in the NFL, league officials and doctors are working to try to make sports safer — right now and down the road.  Is the raised awareness the result of advanced research in the medical field or just plain paranoia?  From the sound of it, Rick Pitino is going with the latter.

The Big Lead passed along a few comments Pitino made to The Courier-Journal after one of his Louisville Cardinals was diagnosed with a concussion.

It’s the seventeenth concussion we’ve had this year,” Pitino said. “I’ve been coaching now 35 years. I’ve seen maybe 5 concussions in 35 years. The new thing is everybody has a concussion. If you walk out and slightly brush the door, you have a concussion. That’s the way it is today.”

You might wear a white coat, Rick, but you aren’t a doctor.  From a coaching standpoint, I can understand how an increase in concussion diagnoses can be frustrating.  After all, there’s a good chance it means your guy can’t play in the next game.  However, I don’t see how you can argue that it’s a bad thing.  Doctors aren’t looking to screw players out of playing time by claiming they have some sort of injury that doesn’t exist.  Medicine advances and safety improves.  Rick Pitino and James Harrison will just have to learn to deal with it.