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.
Are the Saints serious? Slapping the franchise tag on Drew Brees is more of a slap in the face than if they were to just cut him loose and let him make the big bucks elsewhere.
Despite my displeasure with New Orleans franchising Brees, the quarterback who led the franchise to its first ever Super Bowl victory, I see what drove them to do it as both sides put each other in this situation.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Brees is asking for a contract that pays him an average of $23 million per year while the Saints aren’t willing to top the $18 million per year mark. Colts QB Peyton Manning is averaging $23 million per year over the first three years of his new contract (I know, let’s not even go there with P.Manning) while Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback is earning about $18 million annually over the lifetime of his contract, should he fulfill it, as is.
On one hand, $23 million is a LOT of money. It’s not like Brees can’t get by on $18 million per year. But if we look beyond what seems like common sense to us average-earning Joes, it makes sense that Brees should earn a paycheck equivalent to that of Peyton Manning, a fellow top-tier quarterback (again, we will ignore Peyton’s neck issues for the purposes of this blog, and my sanity). Heck, Brees beat Manning en route to Super Bowl 44 proving just how special of a quarterback he is. Plus, it’s not like the Saints can’t afford to pay Brees that kind of money. They can.
I understand that because the two sides could not come to an agreement, the Saints feel it necessary to franchise Brees so he can’t go elsewhere which buys them not only Brees’ services for around $16 million (which will cost the Saints $14.4 million against the salary cap ), but gives them another year to try to get a deal done.
Best case scenario for Brees is that this is a purely strategic move by the Saints and both sides can see it as a means to a happy end. The franchise tag keeps him tethered to New Orleans during the off-season, thus buying time for Brees and Saints management to come to a long-term agreement before July 16. At that point, franchised players can only sign 1-year contracts.
The worst case scenario paints an ugly picture of Saints management. Putting Brees - a future Hall of Fame player who restored glory and respect to your franchise even before winning the Super Bowl - in a position to potentially suffer a career-ending injury with zero financial stability is shameful. It’s an irresponsible decision that lacks even a hint of loyalty or morality.
If the Saints somehow think that the last six seasons of success have been a fluke, or that the 33-year-old is on the decline (despite throwing 46 touchdown passes and a record-breaking 5476 yards passing in this last season), then they need to do some serious soul searching, quit any substances they may be abusing, and get a reality check.
I can appreciate the hesitation in doling out a multi-year deal worth this kind of money for ANYBODY. I get it. So if that is the issue, why not sign Brees to a two-year deal (with a third-year option) worth somewhere between $21-$23 million a year? I would think both sides would agree to that. In fact, it’s still a much better deal for the Saints than for Brees, but perhaps, with his sense of loyalty and love for that community, he might just take it?
Maybe not. Either way, I feel like this has to be the worst possible outcome for Brees. Sure, it’s great for the Saints but I’m shocked that they would pull this with a man that has truly meant so much to the city and its people.
After turning down the Chargers’ contract offer heading into the 2006 season, Brees only drew interest from a few teams on the open market as he was coming off of a gruesome shoulder injury that required surgery. Brees went with the Saints and grateful for the opportunity, he took control of the team and the city the moment he set foot in the Big Easy, bringing happiness and spirit back to the region ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Brees and his teammates never looked back, chugging away until they won the Super Bowl in the 2009 season.
Brees was a fixture of the players union during the lockout and it’s ironic that he could very well get screwed by this policy.
You’d better believe we’re going to see a chippier Drew Brees in 2012. I would play angry if my team did me like that, and while Brees certainly has nothing to prove, he does have millions of potential dollars on the line.
On a day when the San Diego Chargers dominated sports media, the real lead got buried between the news of head coach Norv Turner keeping his job and owner Dean Spanos saying he could not say with certainty that the team would still be in San Diego next season.
The most important news out of Chargers camp today was comments made by left guard Kris Dielman who spoke publicly for the first time since suffering a season-ending concussion against the New York Jets in week seven.
If you recall (watch the video here: http://tinyurl.com/7zyz3hg ), a disoriented Dielman stumbled around the field after sustaining a concussion in the third quarter, yet continued to play for the duration of the game before the concussion was diagnosed after the 27-21 loss at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Dielman subsequently suffered a grand mal seizure on the team plane as the Chargers were flying from the east coast back home to San Diego after the game.
Despite being hospitalized and placed on the Injured Reserve list, the married father of two young sons said he would be willing to risk his health to win a Super Bowl.
“‘Yeah [would risk health issues to play for a Super Bowl], I think so ,’ Dielman said Monday in his first comments about his injury, which caused the NFL to announce it would give game officials “concussion awareness training” so they could keep an eye out for players. ‘I’ve got some other people who probably wouldn’t agree,’ said Dielman, who added that ultimately it will be his decision whether he returns or retires.”
Dielman made a few contradictory statements. The 320-pound, four-time Pro Bowl selection said that while he and head coach Norv Turner made a joint decision to place him on IR because he felt ill, that he would still knowingly play with a head injury, even in light of his recent experiences. Here’s more from CBSSports.com:
"Asked if he’d be more cognizant about a possible concussion and would pull himself out of a game, Dielman said: ‘Apparently, I won’t do that. That’s the scary part, too. I’ll play through just about anything and I’ve played through this one and it got me. I’ve made my whole career doing dumb [stuff] like that.’ Dielman said he doesn’t remember the hit that hurt him. ‘It looks like I’m drunk,’ he said. ‘Deal with it. That’s how I got here, doing stupid [stuff] on the football field. It got me 10 years in, so I’m all right with that.’"
This is why the decision has to be taken out of the players’ hands, and legally, it is according to rules implemented by the NFL, NHL, etc, stating that only medical professionals can determine whether or not an injured player is healthy enough to play, not a coach or the player himself. The problem is that while the rules are in place, they are not being enforced. Read what NFL players have said about that here: http://tinyurl.com/blgc6pl
As far as his future is concerned, Dielman said he will take the offseason to speak with his family and doctors before deciding whether or not to retire or continue playing. I found the following quotations quite interesting:
“‘If I didn’t have kids and a family, the decision would be much easier. I probably would have been playing again this year,’ he said. ‘It’s not just me. I have two little boys and a wife. I have to make sure everything’s all right with me and I have to see some doctors still and make a decision from there. Whenever I choose, I’m not going to do anything to hurt the organization.’”
He won’t do anything to hurt the organization? What about his children? I’m sure Dielman cares deeply for his family (at lease one would hope), so his priorities seem misguided.
“‘No ring. I’ve only got a wedding ring,’ he said. ‘I’ve done the Pro Bowls, I’ve done the contract. I want a Super Bowl. I’m no different than anybody else in San Diego that’s (complaining) and moaning about not being in the Super Bowl. Trust me; we want to be in the Super Bowl, too. It’s not an easy league.’”
Being a fierce competitor is usually what makes a great athlete, but sometimes, it can break him just the same. The hunger for competition can be dangerous to those who want something so badly and perhaps feel an air of invincibility. I hope that Dielman uses his head and health to guide him instead of his heart and pride moving forward.
On a larger scale, hopefully the NFL will take note of Dielman’s interview and use it as further evidence proving the need for medical professionals to make medical decisions for players who perhaps lack the strength to do the right thing for themselves and their families.
To read the CBSSports.com piece on Kris Dielman in its entirety, which I highly recommend, click here: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/16697114/chargers-guard-dielman-willing-to-risk-health-in-pursuit-of-super-bowl-ring
For some professional athletes, playing to win is not nearly as important as the paycheck and lifestyle that comes along with the job. For others, like Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, logging that W is a major source of pride and accomplishment, making any loss unacceptable.
Suggs and the Ravens (10-4) were humiliated by the San Diego
not so super until three weeks ago Chargers (7-7) on Sunday night, the 34-14 defeat not sitting well with the four-time pro bowl selection. Check out a tweet posted by a sizzling hot T-Sizzle a few hours after the game ended:
@untouchablejay4: That was Phuckin Bullsh!t Bmore. I apologize from the bottom of my heart. WE WILL WIN OUT!!!!!!! #byanymeansnecessary
Please pardon his phrench, as clearly, Suggs is frustrated. When this tweet popped up on my timeline, my first thought was, “uh-oh. Guaranteeing wins never ends well.”
Suggs had several reasons to be upset. For starters, the Ravens went into Sunday’s game leading their division, but because of the loss, should the Steelers beat the 49ers on Monday, Pittsburgh would take sole possession of the AFC North and drop Baltimore down to the fifth seed.
"It’s back to the drawing board," Suggs told the media in the locker room after the game. "Everybody said we’d fall to fifth so what… Like I said, we in hell now, so, but, we got a vacation home in hell. This is normal for us…"
Umm, okay. I won’t pretend to understand exactly what Suggs is getting at there but losing the game to the Chargers stung on several levels and wasn’t cool, even by Hades-dwelling standards.
The long-heralded Ravens defense only laid two nasty hits on Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers in the entire game, and the only sack the Ravens notched went bye-bye with a personal foul called on Suggs.
The Ravens came into Sunday’s game not only riding a four game winning streak, but also enthused for the return of their captain/emotional leader/amazing pre-game dancing linebacker Ray Lewis (from injury) for the first time in as many games.
Despite leading the defense with ten tackles, Lewis’ return wasn’t nearly enough for the Ravens as quarterback Joe Flacco was hammered by the Chargers, being sacked five times and throwing two interceptions.
As for Suggs’ promise of winning out, that isn’t out of the question by any means as the Ravens host the Cleveland Browns (4-10) next week, followed by the Bengals (8-6) in Cincinnati to close out the regular season.
Ravens fans should wait to see what goes down with their arch-rival Steelers on Monday night before going into freak out mode just yet, although ESPN’s Trey Wingo tweeted Sunday that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he was optimistic that the injured Ben Roethlisberger will be under center against the 49ers. I wonder if Suggs and the Ravens will watch that game with the rest of us?
Everyone can agree that that the Cleveland Browns handled the Colt McCoy concussion situation poorly. Well, everyone but the Browns themselves.
Quick recap: After the Browns quarterback received a crushing helmet-to-helmet hit last Thursday night care of the Steelers’ James Harrison, McCoy’s hand was checked out by the team’s medical staff, not his head, after the play. McCoy played the rest of the game, missing only two plays after the hit and was not even tested for a concussion until after the game when his complaints compelled the medical staff to do so. As an indication of how serious that hit was, McCoy’s father said his son has no memory of the play ( http://tinyurl.com/bvbly8t ). According to the Washington Post, McCoy did not undergo the mandatory Sports Concussion Assessment Tool review until the following morning. The results of the test were abnormal and the doctors sent McCoy home.
Browns president Mike Holmgren confirmed the fact that McCoy did not undergo concussion-related testing on the sideline during the game, yet defended the reaction of the coaches and medical staff in a press conference on Wednesday, saying that nobody on the sidelines saw the helmet-to-helmet hit.
"I’ve had guys in my career come out and go, ‘hey, you better check Steve Young, somebody better check him because he’s not coming out right. None of that happened," Holmgren said. "Ok, no one alerted anybody to this. It seems inconceivable that nobody did, so, how do we do this, now so they get the information they need, the doctors? This is still to be talked about, but to have somebody say something at a proper time."
My first thought was why didn’t the assistant coaches up in the booth call down to the sideline and inquire about the hit once they realized McCoy was going back in the game after sitting out for less than four minutes? The coaches have a television feed in the booth and even if the TV was muted, they would’ve seen NFL Network replay the hit over and over again. Interestingly enough, that was the situation Holmgren himself was in.
"I saw the hit on replay, and I go, ‘okay, that’s not good’ but I’ve also seen hits that… it looks bad, but you know, and off ya go," Holmgren said. "You really do have to just let the medical people go through their procedures and make the judgement they’re getting paid to make. I’m telling you, we’ve got good guys. It didn’t start to show until the locker room, and a good, good time in the locker room, that’s when they really got alerted to it I suppose."
Accidental or not, I thought the NFL should fine the Browns, which would hopefully compel teams to do their due diligence when recognizing and diagnosing head injuries, regardless of how it could affect the outcome of a game.
Just when I thought fining the Brows was the answer, I read this from an article written by Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com:
"The NFL has a new policy this season where a league observer in the press box can alert a team’s medical staff on the sideline about a concussion (or other injury) the team may have missed. Some players say that isn’t good enough. They want an independent observer with a medical background to look for concussions that were missed or are being hidden by players or ignored by the medical staff."
Holmgren confirmed that the appointed NFL official at the game last Thursday did not speak up or contact the Browns in any way regarding the hit. Given that information, how could the NFL possibly condemn the team’s inaction when the league’s own representative failed to see the severity of the hit noticed by the NFL Network broadcast crew and subsequently, every viewer?
Even more disturbing is an attitude expressed by Holmgren in Wednesday’s press conference. Holmgren said that even if the coaches and medical staff had seen or been alerted to the severity of the hit, because McCoy was on the bench after and not displaying any signs of a concussion at that point, nothing would’ve been done differently. Well ya see Mike, that is the problem. That’s why guidelines are set mandating the medical staff to test a player for concussion after a play like whether the player shows “symptoms” of trauma or not.
Freeman’s article addresses that issue as well:
"Said one player, who is also a player representative: ‘The concussion rules are the best they can be. The league and the union have done a good job protecting players, but the truth remains, players are still hiding concussions, because they want to protect their careers. In some cases, teams know a player is concussed and let it go. Yes, that still happens.’ The NFL and players union might soon respond to holes in the policy by placing independent doctors on the sidelines during games, taking the decision out of the hands of the interested parties: the teams and players. But until then, some players will continue to put themselves at risk by doing whatever they can to stay on the field."
Remember what happened to San Diego’s Chris Dielman in October? The Chargers guard took a hard hit in a game against the New York Jets, stumbling around the field after the play. The referee even approached Dielman as he couldn’t find his balance, yet the Chargers didn’t take him out of the game. Dielman did in fact suffer a concussion on the play and ended up having a grand mal seizure on the plane ride back to San Diego ( http://tinyurl.com/7zyz3hg ).
Research has proven that hits taken before the symptoms of a concussion have subsided can be extremely damaging and sometimes fatal. Second-Impact Syndrome (SIS) has killed several high school football players, as the brain is fragile and still forming in the teenage years. SIS is a huge reason why the NFL and other athletic governing bodies have created guidelines to test for a concussion immediately following a play. The goal is to save an injured player from sustaining further damage by letting the athlete continue to play.
Colt McCoy finished the game after being knocked out. Chris Dielman finished the game after suffering a concussion. NHL star Sidney Crosby not only finished one game after receiving a concussion, but was knocked out of the following game four days later before the Pittsburgh Penguins realized the severity of his injury.
Crosby was forced to sit out for 10 months before returning to the ice this season. After only eight games, it was recently announced that Crosby will be out indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms.
While many players are starting to come around in terms of realizing the importance of healing from head injuries ( http://tinyurl.com/7nalxh2 ), many still choose to ignore the evidence pointing to a tragic future that possibly awaits them. If the story of the NHL’s Derek Boogaard won’t scare someone into taking care of themselves ( http://nyti.ms/vvLrZM ), perhaps nothing will.
That is exactly the point. It is the league’s job to save players and coaches from themselves and their perhaps misguided self interests. While the NBA, NHL and NFL have all taken steps in the right direction by adopting policies to keep players safe, it clearly isn’t enough just yet.
Click here to read Mike Freeman’s eye-opening story about the NFL’s efforts to curb concussions while many players still try to avoid the polices designed to help them: http://tinyurl.com/7nalxh2
Chargers G Kris Dielman Out After Suffering Seizure On Team Plane Following Jets Game In Which He Sustained A Concussion And Continued Playing
The San Diego Chargers, in the words of Ricky Ricardo, “have some explaining to do!”
Remember when the Bolts’ left guard Kris Dielman stumbled around the field, struggling to find his balance after a first down play against the Jets at the Meadowlands last Sunday? Did you find yourself surprised when the Chargers left their four-time Pro Bowl player in the game, despite the fact that he never appeared to fully regain his composure?
If you, like me, found yourself worried for Dielman, turns out we both had good reason to be.
The 30-year-old, in his ninth NFL season will miss the Chargers’ next two games (at least) after suffering a “violent” and “scary” Grand mal seizure on the airplane near the end of the Charger’s flight home after their loss to the Jets, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
Apparently, Dielman did, in fact suffer a concussion on a first down blocking play where Mike Tolbert lost a yard at the 12:33 mark of the fourth quarter. As you can see in the video above, the guard staggers around the field, clearly disoriented, prompting a referee to tend to Dielman.
Here’s where the situation gets shady. The Chargers took a timeout at that point, yet resumed the game with Dielman still on the field, not only for the rest of that particular Chargers possession, but for the rest of the game. I can’t remember if Dielman was checked out on the sideline or on the field before or during the time out, or if the TV broadcast even showed it. It happened quickly and I can’t find that portion of the video currently.
While Dielman did not confirm having the seizure, he did have this to say to the Union Tribune: “I just banged my head a little bit. Now I gotta deal with it.”
According to the article, “while it would seem unfathomably coincidental, two sources said doctors were not certain the concussion and seizure were related.”
This is what I know for sure. After that Chargers time out, I was shocked to see Dielman back in the game. I kept my eyes on him for the following two plays, the latter of which was Darrell Revis’ 64-yard interception. In both plays, Dielman could not keep his head upright in his stance. He was the only player on the line with his head completely down. It looked like he attempted to keep his head upright and look forward a few times right after lining up, but he couldn’t hold on, subsequently dropping his head down.
Speaking with the Union Tribune, Dielman’s agent Mike McCartney expressed frustration with the Chargers (he also sounded off on Twitter) over their treatment, or lack thereof, of his client.
“If Kris, indeed, suffered a concussion and continued to play, I’m extremely disappointed,” McCartney said.”
"McCartney said he did not know when Dielman’s concussion was diagnosed. A player suspected of having suffered a concussion is required by NFL policy to be evaluated using the NFL “sidelines concussion exam.”
According to the Mayo Clinic website, while Grand mal seizures are commonly associated with Epilepsy, it lists “traumatic head injuries” as a cause.
"Grand mal seizures occur when the electrical activity over the whole surface of the brain becomes abnormally synchronized," according to the website. In other words, it’s some serious s***.
If the referees, players and viewers at home all witnessed Dielman wobbling like a drunk college kid outside of a bar, how did the Chargers coaching and medical staff not notice? Surely, they did notice, but chose the wrong course of action.
The Union Tribune article says that San Diego was out of options, inferring that is what kept Dielman on the field, despite the injury. “At the time Dielman was hurt, the Chargers ostensibly had no one to replace him. Scott Mruczkowski had suffered a neck injury, Brandyn Dombrowski was already playing left tackle after the departure of Marcus McNeill due to injury and Green was inactive.”
Until a doctor who has personally checked out Dielman says that the concussion and seizure are unrelated, the Chargers medical staff should be ashamed of themselves, owing Dielman an apology and a promise to the NFL to never pull a stunt like that again.
Read the San Diego Union Tribune article in it’s entirety here: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/oct/27/dielman-out-vs-chiefs/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter