The NFL continues to get concussions wrong. With the movie Concussion scheduled to be released in theaters on Christmas, though it remains to be seen really how much the league will be criticized, the discussion over this blatant problem in the league will likely drum up again. We’ve seen Case Keenum play despite clearly being concussed. Brian Hoyer remained in the game far too long before being pulled, missing the Houston Texans’ next game. Heck, even Ben Roethlisberger stayed in after getting crushed by Michael Bennett, only exiting the game when he spoke up to trainers. It’s not the way the system is supposed to be working.
The issue lays at the feet of the league. But, we the fans, aren’t doing our part to understand and frankly, appreciate, the dangers of concussions.
I know this because I followed along to the Twitter reaction to Ryan Shazier’s concussion Sunday. It is disappointing, and sure, if you want to be, frustrated by seeing him miss more time without a guarantee he plays Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts.
And yes, it is the Internet. This isn’t the place to look for civil discourse. Still, it chews me up to see the comments from a player we all obviously saw was concussed. There was no ambiguity about his injury. The CBS broadcast caught him walking groggily off the field, with a trainer on each side supporting him. We all knew what the injury was. And yet, here is just a snippet of some of the reaction on Twitter.
Oh & I’m bout tired of seeing Shazier play for 2 qtrs then he’s out for 10 weeks again…switch dude to DE or something
Ryan shazier needs to bulk up, all the speed in the world is worthless if you cant stay on the field
Ryan Shazier is no use because he is ALWAYS hurt
I’m sick of Shazier, dude is made of glass.
Ryan Shazier aka Ryan Paper Mâché-zier is out 4-6 weeks
Well I’m glad we have times for jokes.
There is so much wrong, morally and ethically, that I don’t know where to begin. The notion that “bulking up” prevents a concussion is so misguided that I’m sure no one actually believes that, and the people claiming that are just using it as a catch-all for Shazier’s injury history.
This is the hit that caused the concussion. And in the second Vine, you can see Shazier struggle to make it off the field. Sean Spence noticed it immediately.
It was unfair to ostracize him after his nerve injury kept him out longer than anyone anticipated. And now, to do so over a brain injury, something so uncontrollable and unpreventable regardless of weight, position, or any other factor he can control.
I get it. Yinzers gunna yinz. There are people saying stupid things over everything everywhere. But it strikes a cord when there is still so much insensitivity to the game’s most serious injury and the league’s biggest problem.
You want him to play. I want him to play. Shazier wants to play more than any of us. However difficult you think it is on you, multiply that by roughly infinity and you might come close to the discouragement he’s feeling.
We shouldn’t be rooting against him right now. We should be rooting for him to get better. I don’t care if it takes until next year for him to see the field again. Come back when he is symptom free. There’s a reason why Chris Borland retired. And Steelers’ fans should know better than maybe any other group about the dangers of concussions. Mike Webster. Justin Strzelczyk (a focus on Concussion, by the way). Terry Bradshaw. There is an unfortunate extensive list. And at every opportunity to grow up and realize that, the majority turn a blind eye.
Obviously, not everyone is participating in this abhorrent thinking. And I’m probably teetering on the “lecturing dad” side of things. But Sunday served a bitter reminder to the ignorant viciousness some people can create. If there’s a time to rag on Shazier for his injuries, it is certainly not when he’s barely able to walk off the field under his own power. He wanted to come back into the game, telling trainers he was ok, in this insightful piece by Peter King. The doctors, and Mike Tomlin, wouldn’t let him.
“You will listen to these doctors, and you’ll do it now,” Tomlin told Shazier on the sidelines.
In King’s MMQB article, he talks to Richard Ellenbogen, the NFL official on-hand to monitor head injuries. He praised Tomlin for his support.
“The team was all-in. The coach was involved, and he was fully supportive of what the medical people were doing. He couldn’t have been more supportive.”
For a moment, forget the Tomlin coaching blunders. That was the biggest call Tomlin had to make all day. And he made the right choice.
It doesn’t matter how much you want to criticize Shazier. This is not a case of being “injury prone.” It’s a player whose skull was bounced around three times. He needs to get well as a person. Then we’ll talk again about what he can do as a player. That’s all I care about. That’s all that matters.