Why So Afraid?

After James Harrison of the Steelers basted Colt McCoy of the Browns with a borderline illegal hit everyone (well not everyone but many) were concerned with the immediate effects and a possible concussion.

The Browns were fast to let the world know that McCoy didn’t have a concussion.  This was required speak because they did not even properly evaluate McCoy for a concussion.  I did not see any overt signs at the time, but that means nothing.  What is even more interesting is that McCoy was reported to have some delayed symptoms;

They’re awfully quick to dismiss the possibility considering McCoy showed the after-effects of a player who had been concussed. McCoy told the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram that he didn’t remember the hit, and he was still glassy-eyed 20 minutes after the game. The Browns P.R. staff also asked reporters to turn off their lights during McCoy’s post-game availability session.

Straight from the horse’s mouth we have: memory loss, vision disturbance/fogginess, and sensitivity to light.  When I evaluate for a concussion on the sidelines and after games of high school players 3 reported symptoms are enough to warrant the assessment of concussion.  In fact after a report and clinical evaluation/questions that would end the assessment right there and they would be sent off to a quiet room/home.

So why are NFL teams so afraid to label concussions, concussions?  I have no freaking clue.

4 thoughts on “Why So Afraid?

  1. Joe Bloggs December 9, 2011 / 21:08

    The NFL is being sued in multiple jurisdisctions for mishandling medical care of players. The failed NFL concussion committee may have been disbanded but they are, for the most part, still involved with team medicine. Elliot Pellman, Joe Maroon, Mark Lovell, Mickey Collins, Joe Wackerle, and so on are running the show. UPMC invented the new nonsense of “concussion like symptoms” and Philadelphia things get caught in the eye.

    Rich Ellenbogen and the new concussion gang seem to have been bought off. NFL strategy is defined by buying as many people off as possible. Most dissappointingly is Bob Cantu suggesting the NFL gets it. Nonsense, it says one thing and does another.

    The NHL is adopted the old NFL strategy by using the same people or friends their off. Pellman, Lovell, Collins and UPMC friend and lackey Ruben Echemendia having reset the clock a to NFL a decade ago.

    We will need some deaths on the professional field before anything changes.

    • Dustin Fink December 10, 2011 / 07:37

      I hope that your last sentence is not true but it sure seems to be trending that way…

      I have a novel idea, scrap the entire committee once again and I have a list of about 8 people that can form the new “independent” committee. Sometimes you have to get away from the establishment to get the proper results…

      • Joe Bloggs December 10, 2011 / 11:35

        I can add dozen more that are scientists that have not been tapped who are world class but are not on the team. I suspect their exclusion is due to a nasty habit of letting data shape their opinions instead of those who write their checks.

  2. brokenbrilliant December 11, 2011 / 06:21

    I personally believe that this is an organizational issue. And a leadership issue. Dr. Cantu may believe that the NFL “gets it” about concussions, and depending on whom he’s talking to at higher levels, that may be the case. The problem is, from what I can see, that the whole organization is not singing from the same music sheet. And if this is the case, NFL leadership (who may understand the problem) doesn’t seem to be effective in enforcing awareness and appropriate messages/actions throughout the whole organization.

    If there are onetime-concussed individuals involved in the organization, at multiple levels, this doesn’t surprise me. Cognitive behavioral problems, I would expect, could be endemic. But of course nobody’s going to talk about that, because it could seriously undermine the mystique that goes with the NFL. I used to share office space with a pro football agent, and if ever there was an individual who was *not* open to plumbing the depths of one’s soul for the sake of human betterment, it was that guy. Good guy, but very focused on the mystique, “being the man” and generally holding his own with all those pro ball players he interacted with.

    I also suspect that another root cause of the fear, is personal concern over folks’ own mental health and well-being. Seeing what happens to others like you is no picnic. I’m none too pleased, myself, to hear the stories of cognitive decline, behavioral meltdowns, and ultimate disintegration, thanks to multiple head traumas. Granted, I’m no pro football player, and the concussions I’ve experienced pale in comparison to those players’. But still. There’s so much we don’t know, and those gray areas worry me — for the sake of myself and my loved ones. They must worry others in pro sports, as well.

    Plus, the closer this stuff hits to home, the more stressful it can be, and if you look at the results of stress over time — suppressing cognitive function, as well as shutting down “non-essential” areas of the brain and body to purely survive — it doesn’t surprise me that there’s a good deal of inconsistency throughout the NFL organization. At the time when the NFL — and *all* contact/collision sports — need to rethink what they’re doing and what they’re about, a lot of people are literally not firing on all pistons.

    Sure, you can tell ’em to “man up” but the human physiological system is built to circumvent conscious thought and action in times of extreme duress, including a threat to one’s survival. This is the scenario we’re looking at — something that’s threatening to strike at the very heart of the NFL and its institution(s). So, no matter how bold and brave and forward-looking some folks may resolve to be/become, the human system is built to automatically take offline the “gray areas” of our lives and our thinking… just at the time when the gray areas are the places we need to be looking.

    That, I think, is why everyone is so afraid. It’s not conscious, it’s not deliberate. It’s automatic – autonomic, in fact. And the risks are escalating every day. Which is unfortunate.

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