2021 South Side Questions: Consider Sitting Pat Freiermuth Even If He Clears Concussion Protocol?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is underway, and they are hoping for a better outcome in comparison to last season. After starting out 11-0, they finished the year 1-4 in the regular season, and then lost in the Wildcard Round to the Cleveland Browns, ignited by a 0-28 first quarter.

They have lost a large number of key players in the offseason, like Maurkice Pouncey, Bud Dupree, Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, but they’ve also made significant additions as the months have gone on, notably Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram, Joe Schobert, and Ahkello Witherspoon. They also added Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore Jr., all of whom are starting.

There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. Even if they play them poorly. They still have a lot to figure out, though, such as what Matt Canada’s offense is going to look like in any given week, or how the new-look secondary and offensive line is going to play.

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Would you consider sitting Pat Freiermuth after his (presumed) second concussion, even if he clears the protocol?

Football is a game, first and foremost. That’s something we should always remember. It’s a job, too, but it’s a job that asks for a lot of sacrifice in terms of the health of those who play, and arguably the scariest aspect of that sacrifice is what these men subject their long-term cognitive health to.

Concussions are the most viscerally obvious means of us seeing the effects of this. It is very difficult to predict, let alone to know, what it means for players in their future if they suffer a few diagnosed concussions in their career.

We do know that having one concussion makes you more susceptible to suffering another in the short-term future—and suffering a second makes matters even worse. Steelers rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth has now been in the concussion protocol twice in relatively short order; the team hasn’t officially stated that he has a concussion, but it seems to be implied.

Early indications are that he is feeling fine, however—he even drove his family home from the game on Sunday, according to his brother. He was in the facility yesterday. Things are moving in the right direction in terms of him clearing the concussion protocol this week and being available to play against the Kansas City Chiefs.

But would you play him? Would you choose to sit him? What would tip you in one direction or the other in terms of making that call? Is it a ‘play him no matter what’ as long as he’s cleared?

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