This weekend’s top stories regarding health and safety in football — and other sports:
* In a CBSSports.com column former Detroit Lions quarterback Scott Mitchell said that Lomas Brown’s revelation that he allowed him to get hurt during a game 18 years ago has raised a number of issues involving trust on the football field.
“When I heard Lomas say that, it really killed me,” Mitchell said to CBSSports.com. “I’m serious about that. I don’t think a player could say or do something to a teammate that’s worse than that. It’s really despicable. Quite frankly, I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I’m not sure when I’ll stop thinking about it. It’s a massive betrayal. It’s total bull—-. I don’t know how Lomas can ever look himself in the mirror again. I had Lomas Brown in my house. I would have parties for the players. I’d have the best food, I’d treat everyone well. I’d get gifts for the linemen, including Lomas. He was one way to my face and another way behind my back.”
It’s an all-too-familiar scenario in a league that is desperately trying to change the culture regarding concussions. McElroy’s case only underscores the challenge of trying to create an environment in which players aren’t afraid to disclose symptoms of head trauma, fearing that they might not be allowed to play. McElroy is a typical example: fringe player getting his first chance to start and doing anything possible to keep playing — even at the risk of suffering further damage. ”I’m sure there’s been a few times in my career I haven’t made the smartest decision with (a concussion),” Tim Tebow said. “You’re a competitor, and sometimes that can get the best of you. You have to try and do the smart thing, not the brave thing.” But all too often in the NFL — and in other sports as well, at every level — players routinely ignore symptoms, thereby putting themselves at greater risk. McElroy is simply the latest example. ”I think the majority of guys try to play through anything,” said Hixon, who missed one game before returning to the lineup. “You never know when you’re going to get your opportunity. Look at what happened when Drew Bledsoe went down and Tom Brady steps up. That may be the one opportunity you get, and if it passes you by, you may never get it again.”
* As part of its concussion series, the Philadelphia Inquirer profiled a few area business that growing while helping to protect players against concussions.
* A column in the Lewiston (Maine) Sun Journal urged parents to be on the lookout for concussions in children.
* Science 2.0 wrote about the Hockey Concussion Education Project, which has been following men’s and women’s players in Canada.
* The Associated Press wrote about two basketball players who have suffered concussions: Daniel Gibson of the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers was injured during a collision Friday night while University of North Carolina forward Reggie Bullock during a practice eight days ago.
* And Slate magazine had a different idea on how to cut down on dirty hits in the NFL: an NHL-style penalty box.
Like the NHL, pro football should force teams to play a man down after a flagrant foul — on top of the usual 15-yard penalty and automatic first down. There are a few ways a NFL penalty box could work: The penalized player could sit out until the next first down (which could be just a single play), or until the next change of possession, (which could be 15 plays), or a set number of plays. The NFL could even borrow the red card from soccer: Not only is the dirty player thrown out of the game, but his team plays a man short for the duration. This feels like a nuclear option to me, but if nothing short of it stopped this kind of hit, why not give it a try?
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor