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.
Bravo David Clowney.
Wow, never thought you’d see that sentence in print, did ya? Ya, me either, especially not after Clowney landed in hot water for tweeting “kill yourself dude” to an online heckler.
But we are a nation of forgiveness and second (okay, third, fourth and maybe fifth) chances, right? Right!
I think the Buffalo Bills wide receiver deserves a gold star or two for tweeting a photo of his test results.
Nope, not a driving test, or an old Wunderlic test, but an HIV test.
The wideout blasted the following tweet to his +9,000 followers on Tuesday, showing the lab results of test for multiple sexual transmitted diseases, including the most feared of them all, HIV:
Responses on twitter were all across the board as Clowney received support, congratulations and well wishes, from some, while others took the sarcastic, rude and judgmental route. Various blogs teased Clowney, one of which wrote, “Ladies, I’m sure you probably didn’t know who he was before the tweet, so no need to jump on the David Clowney groupie wagon now.”
I won’t dignify the negative stuff with a response.
Instead, I applaud the Florida native and Virginia Tech standout for not only doing something that most would never think to do, but for using the opportunity (and negative feedback) to speak about the importance of getting tested:
As an athlete who likely has plenty of opportunity in the “romance” department, I think it’s great that Clowney chooses the road of responsibility for himself as well as consideration of potential partners. Often times athletes, or others with high-profile occupations can develop a sense of invincibility that comes along with the spotlight and the “yes-men.” Clearly, Clowney is no fool.
I bet Clowney knows the numbers, which prove that he, as an African-American male, is a prime target for HIV. The following is from the Center For Disease Control website:
• Blacks continue to experience the most severe burden of HIV, compared to other races and ethnicities. Blacks represent approximately 14% of the U.S. population, but accounted for an estimated 44% of new HIV infections in 2009. Blacks accounted for 46% of people living with HIV infection in 2008.
• Since the epidemic began, more than 250,000 blacks with AIDS have died , including 8,782 in 2009.
• At some point in their life, approximately 1 in 16 black men will be diagnosed with HIV infection, as will 1 in 32 black women.
• In 2009, the estimated rate of new HIV infections among black men was six and a half times as high as that of white men, and more than two and a half times as high as that of Hispanic/Latino men and of black women. In the same year, the estimated rate of new HIV infections among black women was 15 times that of white women and over three times that of Hispanic/ Latina women.
While HIV is a problem for EVERYONE, regardless of race or ethnicity, the disease is striking the African Americans community at levels completely disproportionate to the population.
Whether we like it or not, people in the public eye are role models by default and they can impact the opinions and decisions of total strangers. It’s nice that Clowney is setting a good example by getting tested and preaching awareness.
Despite his sometimes-questionable twitter judgement and lack of eloquence, Clowney must be a fairly bright guy. The 26-year-old earned a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the College of Saint Elizabeth (NJ) back in 2011 after majoring in Real Estate/Residential Property Management as an undergraduate at VaTech.
How many active professional athletes have a Master’s Degrees?
There’s much more to life than being book smart, but based on Tuesday’s tweet, I would say David Clowney is pretty street smart too.
If for the sake of the Discount Double Check commercials, I hope the Packers beat the Giants on Sunday. It’s too awkward watching the New York Jets Pepsi commercials since they aren’t even in the playoffs so I feel like it would be such a shame to be subjected to awesome commercials staring Aaron Rodgers, BJ Raji and Clay Matthews while being simultaneously reminded that they aren’t even playing anymore. Man those commercials are good! The look on BJ Raji’s face while he does that dance, wow! Priceless.
If the Giants beat the reigning Super Bowl champion Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday, I’d shake my head, wipe my eyes, and do a full-on double take. On the other hand, I think this game is perhaps the most likely upset of the divisional round.
The Packers are a well-oiled machine led by Aaron Rodgers, who with 45 touchdown passes and only six interceptions, as been superb this season. The Packers lost only one game as the Chiefs got ‘em in week 15 with a 19-14 win in Kansas City. I think the Pack needed that loss to get the “undefeated” monkey off their backs, especially after seeing the Patriots suffer a Super Bowl loss to the Giants following a remarkable undefeated regular season.
Coincidently, this matchup with the Packers reminds me a bit of New York’s run to Super Bowl XLII in 2007. In week 17, head coach Tom Coughlin played his starters as the Giants hosted the undefeated Patriots at the Meadowlands. New York had already clinched the 5th seed as the wild card, but the Giants gave it their best shot and fell just short in one hell of a game, losing to the Pats 38-35. Whatever happened that night got the G-Men hot and bothered as they ripped through the playoffs, beating the Bucs in the wild card game and downing the cowboys in Dallas before landing at Lambeau Field to take on Brett Favre and the Packers in the NFC Championship game. If you recall, Coughlin’s face was a blistery red and it looked like the guy had hypothermia, but alas, he survived, as did the Giants in overtime. Brett Favre’s interception in the extra period would be the last pass he ever threw in a Packers uniform. The Giants went on to beat the Pats in one of the greatest Super Bowl finishes of all time.
I gave you the history lesson because I was reminded of 2007 after glancing at the Giants 2011 schedule. This season, the Packers beat the Giants in Jersey in Week 13. The final score? Cue the eerie music…. Packers 38 Giants 35. Recognize that??? Yep, same score as the Week 17 loss to New England in the 2007 Super Bowl season. Now the Giants are facing the Packers in the payoffs, just like they did the Patriots. Could you imagine if the Giants knock off the Packers and end up facing the Patriots in the Super Bowl this season, just like in ‘07? How insane would that be?
We’ll cross that bridge when we get there, well, if we get there, but first, the Giants have their work cut out for them Sunday. Rodgers, who hasn’t played in three weeks is well-rested (but could be rusty, we’ll see) and the entire team presumably has a leg up on the Giants because of the bye week. The Packers offense, much like the Saints, is fully loaded with guys like Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings (back on the field Sunday after missing three games with a sprained knee), James Jones and Jermichael Finley. Rodgers is so mobile and finds ways to hang on to the ball just long enough to pick his spots.
Here’s the thing though. The Giants not only have a piping hot offense with Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, but their defense has played well as of late, carrying them through the back end of the regular season.
Jason Pierre-Paul has blown up as an elite player while Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora are playing at a high level, as they should since they have led that defense for several years now. The Giants secondary is on the weak side, so the big boys in the middle will be charged with picking up the pass rush and finding a way to get to the often-elusive Rodgers (see week 16 vs. the Bears when he split Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher causing the teammates to collide with each other, injuring Urlacher).
Despite leading the league in interceptions (and lets be honest, Eli knows how to throw a pick, which could really help the Packers), the Green Bay defense was ranked last in the NFL this year, setting a trend among teams with the top offenses simultaneously having horrid defenses (the Saints and Patriots were also among the NFL’s worst defensive teams).
I feel like the Packers have this game won on paper, and no, I wouldn’t bet against them, but my spidey sense tells me the Giants might have some left over magic from ‘07 headed their way. I’m taking the boys from Green Bay, but wouldn’t be flabbergasted if the Giants pulled the upset.
UPDATE 8:45pm EST The Associated Press is reporting that divers did recover a body from the Fox River late Monday afternoon. Authorities had not released the identity of the body, a male between 20-25 years of age until the family was notified first. At a scheduled news conference, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy confirmed that Philbin was away with the team in Oshkosh.
Packers offensive lineman T.J. Lang, whose father died last week, tweeted the following Monday evening:
@TJLang70: As children we all have to someday say goodbye to our parents, but a parent should never have to say goodbye to their child.
@TJLang70: Prayers for the Philbin family.
The police said no foul play was involved and hopefully further details will be made available to help give the Philbin family closure, if possible. Clearly, this is a sad day for the Packers organization and the Philbin family.
ORIGINAL POST: The last few days have not been kind to NFL assistant coaches.
First, Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson sustained burns over 30 to 50 percent of his body as the result of a fire that started in his kitchen last Friday morning. The 50-year-old was reportedly placed in a medically induced coma, and remained hospitalized in Pennsylvania while the Steelers lost to the Broncos on Sunday in Denver.
Preparing to face the New York Giants in this coming weekend’s divisional round playoff game, the Green Bay Packers coaching staff is now bracing itself for tragedy as Michael Philbin, son of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, has gone missing.
Multiple news outlets are reporting the 21-year-old was last heard from around 2 a.m. Sunday, as Philbin was visiting friends around the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh campus.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson released the following statement Monday afternoon:
"The Packers organization is aware of the missing person report regarding Michael Philbin, son of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Philbin family during this difficult time. We ask anyone with information about Michael to contact the Oshkosh Police Department.”
Multiple media outlets are reporting that another search is under way, according to Deadspin.com, “A rescue team in Oshkosh, Wis., is searching the icy waters of the Fox River for a person reported to have fallen in, while police are looking for a missing man they have identified as Michael T. Philbin… An employee at an auto parts manufacturer on High Street, located just along the river, had called for an emergency crew at 2:30 a.m. Sunday after thinking he heard someone call for help from the river.”
I’m not sure if Deadspin has any actual evidence that the two cases are connected, but the website is implying Philbin is the man suspected to have fallen into the icy river. Joe Nichols, a crime prevention officer from the local police department said the two cases are being treated as two separate incidents, according to thenorthwest.com.
Philbin has faced rough times in the past few years as he was sentenced to six months in jail after being convicted of sexually assaulting two young girls and two counts of battery in 2009.
Hopefully this story will have a happy ending, but if it doesn’t, the Packers coach will have quite a tough task ahead of him. While we have seen countless players take the field under a cloud of personal tragedy (Brett Favre’s fabulous performance the day after his father’s death in 2003 comes to mind), rarely has that dark cloud resulted from the loss of a child, which is thought to be the worst loss of all.
Lets hope Michael Philbin is found alive and well.
Several Pepper On Sports readers wrote me after my original article about a car accident in Portland, OR. involving suspended Lions defensive tackle Ndomukong Suh early Saturday morning ( http://pepperonsports.tumblr.com/post/13694240878/ridin-dirty-suspended-lions-dt-suh-crashes-car-in ). These readers expressed that something didn’t seem right about the story, and that at best, Suh had to be driving at fairly high speeds to lose control of his car while simply trying to drive around a stopped vehicle on a city street.
As it turns out, the readers were on to something. According to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Suh’s two female passenger had left the accident scene by the time police arrived and once they were interviewed by police Sunday, both women claimed Suh was driving recklessly, there was no taxi cab impeding Suh’s progress and that both women said they were injured in the accident.
Here are a few of the PPB’s findings, reported by KOIN-TV:
“‘He was driving too fast and reckless all the time. There was never a taxi. He was just going too fast and he could have killed someone at Dante’s,’ one of the women stated in the police report. Dante’s is a night club located at 350 West Burnside near the location of the crash. The same woman told police she suffered a laceration to her forehead that required five stitches, a black eye, a ‘busted lip’ and a torn shoulder muscle. The women allege they left the scene before police arrived to avoid the large crowd of people who had gathered outside Dante’s to take photos of Suh. They told police they called for a ride in order to get medical treatment.”
Additionally, KGW-TV reports that there were three passengers in the car, not two, as was originally reported, and that one passenger told Suh she needed medical attention after the crash but he refused to help, and she instead called her husband who picked her up. A passenger told KGW, “When the light turned green, he floored it. I just remember going so fast and it was violent, and just getting thrown around like rag dolls.”
It seems as though Suh will be let off the hook, regardless of this new information. Why? Well, the PPB says the criteria for investigating a car accident has not changed in light of the witness’ accounts. The police won’t investigate a crash unless it involves “intoxicated drivers, traumatic injuries, or vulnerable road users.”
Hopefully somebody will investigate the situation. Why was Suh driving so fast on a city street? What was he thinking? Was this a case of stupidity and carelessness, or is it a symptom of something more serious, like a mental health issue? I would think someone (cue the reporters and beat writers hovering around Suh’s locker on his first day back at work) will ask him these questions in attempts to hold him accountable and see where his head is at these days.
If the PPB doesn’t reconsider looking into the matter any further, Suh should thank his lucky stars. Although with this information becoming public, Roger Goodell will no doubt keep the incident in his back pocket, adding it to the growing list of Suh’s misdeeds.
Suh will sit out Sunday’s home game against the Vikings as he wraps up a two-game suspension for stomping the Packers’ Evan Dietrich-Smith in the Lions Thanksgiving game.
I’m still hoping head coach Jim Schwartz and the Lions organization will suspend Suh for an additional game to send a message on behalf of the team (not the league) that his reckless and illegal on-field behavior won’t be tolerated. I won’t hold my breath though.
As a football fan, it would be hard not to appreciate the talent and tenacity of Ndamukong Suh. While the the Detroit Lions defensive tackle plays the game with skill and heart, his apparent disregard of the game’s rules has called his intentions and character into question. New York Jets guard Matt Slauson has seen enough of his former college teammate to form an educated opinion, and sadly, the portrait he paints of Suh isn’t pretty.
I have defended Suh, wanting so desperately to love him as a player, but his sad Thanksgiving day display was the last straw for me. Suh, in his second NFL season was ejected from the game in the third quarter after slamming Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith’s head into the ground before stomping him with his right foot.
I tweeted that Suh has become out of control, thus indefensible and that he might want to consider therapy to get his emotions and anger in check. I took some criticism from the twitter world for that one, but I explained to the doubters that while yes, football is a physical sport, the violence falls within the structure of the game. It is not a free-for-all, nor a boxing ring or octagon.
Apparently Slauson agrees with me, telling the New York Post that he wonders if Suh needs medical help. “Somebody needs to get him under control, because he’s trying to hurt people,” Slauson told the Post. “It’s one thing to be an incredibly physical player and a tenacious player, but it’s another thing to set out to end that guy’s career.”
Not including the Thanksgiving game incident, Suh has already been fined more than $42k for his unsportsmanlike play in his young NFL career and also met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his style of play.
According to the Post’s exclusive interview, Slauson said, “I have no idea what the league can do, because apparently what they’re doing now isn’t working. I don’t know what’s going on with him, but something isn’t right. I mean, they’ve fined him out the butt, but he still doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong. I don’t know what they’re going to have to do, but something has to be done.”
Something must be done. I expect the NFL to fine and suspend Suh, but clearly he hasn’t shown much respect for the league’s rules and penalties. I think the only way he’ll get the message is if the Lions organization and head coach Jim Schwartz hand Suh an additional suspension. The problem is, the team hasn’t exactly condemned Suh’s behavior, at least not publicly, so I’m not sure they truly want him to change his behavior.
Slauson told the Post that while Suh was respected by his college teammates at Nebraska for his play on the field, he was not well-liked on a personal level.
Hopefully this latest incident will serve as the last straw for the Lions’ before Suh really hurts someone. Sadly, I won’t hold my breath.
For more of Slauson’s comments, which there are plenty of, I highly recommend reading the Post’s article here: http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/jets/jets_slauson_suh_is_out_of_control_hZS50vtS1Ti4VvUGhd44pN#ixzz1elWAY8fX
A former teammate of Kurt Warner’s once told me that the quarterback was not only one of the best teammates he ever had, but one of the best human beings he had ever known. I responded by saying that I had heard great things about Warner, but I didn’t know it was like that! He told me, “Jackie, he is the real deal.”
After such a rave review, I couldn’t resist asking him about Warner’s wife, who I had heard described as the boss, suffocating, crazy, the Yoko Ono of sports, etc. Warner’s former teammate told me that the two were indeed attached at the hip, with Brenda Warner wearing the pants.
Today I listened to Brenda and Kurt discuss her new book, “One Call Away: Listening To Life’s Challenges With Unshakable Faith,” on The Rich Eisen Podcast. First of all, Eisen’s podcast is a must-listen for any sports fan. Second, this was one of the most interesting interviews I’ve heard on the podcast, which is saying a lot.
If you are a football fan, you are probably familiar with Kurt Warner’s rags to riches story of going from an undrafted, grocery-bagging, Arena Football player to a 27-year-old NFL rookie to Super Bowl champion. After he’s voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I’m sure Disney will make a super corny movie about Warner’s life that will make me cry at least three times. But if you think he had a rough journey, take a look at a few facts about his wife Brenda that she shared on the podcast and in her book which is available now.
- Brenda was a United States Marine, serving in Okinawa, Japan, New Orleans, and Virginia Beach before leaving with Corps with a hardship discharge after her young son was injured.
- Brenda’s son suffered brain damage and blindness after her first husband accidentally dropped him as a baby. Zachary has been disabled ever since (he is now 22 years old and doing well).
- Brenda and her first husband divorced after he told her he was in love with another woman. Brenda was eight months pregnant with their second child at the time.
- Brenda met Kurt while country line dancing at a bar in Cedar Falls, Iowa in 1992. “He tried to kiss me at two o’clock in the morning when the bar closed, and I told him, ‘I’m divorced with two kids…so if I never see you again, that’s fine with me.’ “
- The next day, Kurt showed up at Brenda’s parents’ house (where she was living at the time) and he told her he wanted to meet her children. At the time, he was a 21-year-old backup quarterback on his college football team.
- While they were dating, Brenda’s parents were killed in a tornado; the experience prompted Warner to become an Evangelical Christian, like Brenda.
- A spider bite on the elbow of Warner’s throwing arm during their honeymoon forced Kurt to miss a tryout with the Bears in 1997.
- Brenda suffered two miscarriages within nine months while Kurt played for the Giants.
- Ken Whisenhunt made a promise to Brenda that the Cardinals’ starting QB job would be decided by effort and hard work, not politics.
While the book has a major religious component, which isn’t my cup of tea, I will definitely read it anyway. This woman has an incredibly unique story.
If I were watching a movie where a guy shows up at a single mom’s door the day after meeting her at a bar and he says, “I want to meet your kids,” I’d probably shake my head, think, “ya freakin right,” and get up and walk out of the theater. But the reality is that the Warners’ truth is stranger than fiction.
After hearing Brenda and Kurt discuss the book, I felt like I understood why she is the way she is. Brenda Warner is the perfect example of “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” It’s no wonder she is one tough cookie.