A few weeks ago, Baltimore Ravens—and former Pittsburgh Steelers—wide receiver Mike Wallace suffered a concussion after taking a nasty hit to the head playing against one of his former teams, the Vikings, on October 22.
The Ravens were scheduled to play again on that Thursday. He cleared the concussion protocol by then, which means that he could have played. It was his decision. He felt that he was not yet ready to return to play, and informed head coach John Harbaugh of his decision to hold himself out for another game.
The former third-round draft pick in 2009 admitted that it’s likely not a decision that he would have made earlier in his career. In truth, it was only the second game that he has ever missed in nine seasons, the other being a meaningless game at the end of one season while still in Pittsburgh, after they had already been eliminated from the playoffs.
“As bad as I wanted to play, I felt good, I felt great, just the risk of getting hit like that twice”, he said, pausing. “Chances are real slim, but there’s always a possibility when you step on the field and I don’t want to be out there second-guessing anything”.
That is what he told reporters in addressing the media for the first time since taking that hit earlier this week. “I think it’s just about the knowledge of what’s going on with the head injuries and things like that”, he added, speaking to what informed his decision.
“When I first got in the league, we were just really starting to hear about it”. The league instituted sweeping reform about how they police illegal hits to the head just a short time after Wallace entered the league, thanks in large part to his former teammate, James Harrison.
“I just remember catching the ball and then being in the locker room”, he said of the incident. He said that he has no regrets about his decision to sit out the victory over another one of his former teams, the Dolphins.
It was in that game, however, that another one of his teammates suffered a nasty blow to the head, as quarterback Joe Flacco took a shot that lacerated his ear while sliding late in the second quarter of what was already amounting to a blowout.
While Wallace had a short week, Flacco has had the advantage of a long layoff. Rather than going from Sunday to Thursday, he has had from last Thurday to this upcoming Sunday to clear the concussion protocol, and it appears that he is on track to return to play without missing a game.
That is a good sign, to be sure. But I also take it as a good sign that a player such as Wallace, who by no means has a reputation for sitting out games, made this type of decision about his personal health. That said, I hope he continues to drop passes when he plays the Steelers.