With the continued focus on the concussion issue throughout the sporting world the major focus is without a doubt on the National Football League. What should merely be an injury issue all of its own may now be harboring a troubling side, “damaged goods”. Eric Ball of Bleacher Report has opined about such a case in the League, Clinton Portis;
Sure Portis isn’t half the back he once was when he rushed for 1,591 yards and 14 TDs in 2003, but there is still gas left in the tank. He has been dealing with concussion issues for the better part of the past two seasons at the worst possible time. Nobody ever really cared about concussions before the New York Times began to do some investigative reporting into the matter. Now it’s one of the top priorities of the league. Portis would have missed half the time he did in 2010 if the concussion controversy hadn’t erupted.
Perhaps in the past teams either didn’t know of previous head injuries or looked the other way; there were surely players in the past that have dealt with repeated issues as they relate to concussions and were signed (Troy Aikman and Steve Young come to mind). The concussion issue is just an injury and should be treated no different from an ACL tear or strained rotator cuff in terms of future performance. Yes, we have seen the possible devastating long-term effects of mismanaged brain injury but the fact remains that the properly treated concussion has little if any serious issues in the short-term. In fact, I would say that a concussion that is treated and managed properly is far less of an issue than a surgically repaired joint.
Research has shown that because you have sustained a concussion it DOES NOT predispose you to another separate injury. Empirically we have seen that the previous insult to the brain may contribute to longer recovery and possible increase in severity of another separate incident, but again has no effect on receiving another concussion. This is akin to having meniscus surgery, just because you have had an injury to the padding of the knee and it was treated correctly it does not make the knee more predisposed to another separate problem. It could mean that if and when that second injury occurs the complications and rehabilitation might be more troubling compared to the individual that has never had a surgery.
This is a fact/observation that must also be learned by everyone involved in sports. Understanding this principle gives rise to the recommendations that you are hearing now: less contact at a younger age, proper (longer) initial recovery, and taking stock of a career full of multiple concussions. Again, this is not dissimilar to any other orthopedic injury.
Is Portis getting “colluded” against due to his recent concussions? Ball brings up a great observation, however we cannot really answer that question because Portis also has a myriad of other injuries as well as a “different” approach off the field. What we do and should know is that if Portis is medically cleared from all his injuries and feels that continuation in this career is still in his best interest, then teams could use his services. Remember that when buying a used car one would probably by less for a vehicle that has more mileage and an accident or two on the record versus a brand new model.