Let’s hope Eagles handle concussion concerns with recent events in mind
By Bruce Ewing
Week 5’s game approaches, ad the Philadelphia Eagles are banged up. Let’s just discuss three of their players. Jordan Mailata has a shoulder injury. Kyron Johnson and Patrick Johnson have head injuries. As you know, there’s a huge difference. Any injury related to the shoulder can often be diagnosed more easily. As we’ve learned from the unfortunate handling of Tua Tagovailoa‘s recent head injury, those matters may be more difficult to manage.
During the Miami Dolphins’ tilt with the Buffalo Bills on September 25th, Tua sustained an obvious injury, and he lost proper functionality in his legs. His return seemed improbable, but despite the obvious physical instability and the possibility of a head injury, doctors deemed him capable of taking the field for the second half.
Four days later, things went from bad to worse for Tagovailoa versus the Cincinnati Bengals. Following days of testing, another violent takedown, one that resulted in Tua’s head colliding with the turf, resulted in convulsions and Miami’s franchise signal-caller leaving the game on a stretcher. Finally, he was diagnosed with a concussion.
Hopefully, the Eagles have learned from what they’ve seen in the Dolphins organization.
As expected, the ripple effect from what’s happening in the Dolphins organization has been one of the unfortunate stories in what’s been a great NFL season. It does beg the question though. How can the Eagles not keep that in the back of their minds while managing the recoveries of Kyron Johnson and Patrick Johnson?
As reserve players who were taken on the third day of their respective NFL Drafts, they aren’t going to see the same type of compensation that Tua, a former first-round selection will. Maybe they’ll become stars and receive huge paydays, but you never know.
We view these guys as gladiators. They’re competitors that will do whatever is necessary to play and avoid the possibility of disappointing fans, coaches, and teammates, but sometimes professional athletes must be protected from themselves.
If Tua’s story hasn’t taught us anything else, we’ve learned that caution is both key and valuable. Tagovailoa may not be playing any time soon, but he’s said to be in good spirits. That’s great news, but as we navigate through our own emotions in this, think of Andre Waters, one of the hundreds of deceased NFL players found to have suffered from CTE and that he; no doubt, did so as a result of repeated (and undiagnosed) concussions.
I’d like to offer a little personal experience here. I’ve never had a concussion, but my daredevil wife has had several. She has fallen off of horses like she’s employed to do so. My job is to care for her and make sure she’s receiving the proper medical care.
From what I’ve seen, concussion diagnosis is extremely difficult to do and very subjective. My wife has been fortunate enough to have tremendous doctors, but even I’ve noticed that the recovery window leans heavily on work-related issues.
During instances in which she had time off, the recovery window was longer. When she was engaged in work or an assignment, the window was shorter. Thankfully, she wasn’t a franchise quarterback for an undefeated team. I can’t even begin to imagine the type of pressure that would have put on her.
To their credit, the NFL and NFLPA have made great strides since introducing their concussion protocols in 2011. In addition to baseline testing, three unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants now watch every game. Given recent events, the NFLPA has fired the doctor that cleared Tua for continued play. Both sides concede that changes to the protocol may be necessary, specifically in regard to “gross motor instability”.
I really hope to see Patrick Johnson and Kyron Johnson playing for the Eagles in Arizona versus the Cardinals for Week 5’s game, but I’d much rather see them be fully healthy and enjoy long careers without ever again having this type of injury.
Their lives are much too important to gamble, so if they miss a week, so be it. After all, as seriously as we take the NFL, it’s only a game, and it’s played by real people, many with wives, children, and families who need them.