NFL Concussion Diary: Jermichael Finley
Scary. Great Idea. Important.
Scary: The helmet-to-helmet hit that left Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley with a concussion, and symptoms for everyone in the stadium and watching on TV, to see for themselves. After receiving the blow to his head (delivered by Bengals safety George Iloka in the Week 3 match-up in Cincinnati), Finley unsuccessfully attempted to jog to the sideline, only to hobble and wobble around the field before eventually falling back to the ground. Finley’s inability to maintain his balance after the hit was reminiscent of the career-ending concussion suffered by former San Diego Chargers offensive lineman Kris Dielman in the 2011 NFL season. The difference then was that despite Dielman’s obvious concussion symptoms, he continued to play the rest of the game against the New York Jets, before having a seizure on the team flight back to San Diego.
Luckily for Finley, the league’s stance on head injuries has changed in the last two seasons, thus he was pulled from the game immediately following the play in which he was injured.
Great Idea: Finley posted a video on his personal website detailing not only the play in which he suffered the concussion, but also how he felt at that moment physically and emotionally. Seemingly with great honesty, Finley takes us through his concussion journey from before it even began, to present day. Most professional sports teams are so “hush-hush” when it comes to injuries that solely naming body parts have come to pass as actual information. Left arm, right leg, abdomen, etc. Finley gives us the play-by-play, straight from the horse’s mouth, which is brilliant.
The video not only gives fans an up-close look at what a player experiences when the brain is injured, but Finley’s account of the team trainer’s immediate insistence that he be pulled from the game tows the company line, proving the NFL’s dedication to the players’ best interests.
Important: Concussions and brain injuries have come to the forefront of NFL media coverage in the past year, specifically due to the recently-settled lawsuit brought by former players suffering brain injuries against the NFL, and the many stories emerging of former players with clinical depression, Alzheimer’s, dementia, ALS, and those who have taken their own lives.
That said, many current athletes in contact sports at best, admit to pushing such concerns to the back of their minds, and at worst, wear the delusional cloak of invincibility, believing that the worst occupational hazards only happen to other people.
In Finley’s case, he tells his concussion story so matter-of-factly, almost as though it was indeed something that happened to someone else, until he recalls one anecdote in particular. It was when Finley’s 5-year-old son told him, “Daddy, I don’t want you to play football anymore,” that the blur of just another workplace injury focused into a sharp reality.