Michael Vick's Concussion: Why He Should Rest for the Remainder of the Season
In retrospect, it feels like it was just a matter of time.
Dinged, knocked down, and hurried most of the season, Michael Vick finally suffered the consequences of a weak and injured offensive line during the Eagles' Week 10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys when he sustained a concussion during the second quarter.
Frankly, it is shocking that he lasted this long.
However, what may be even more shocking is the type of hit that supposedly caused the concussion.
It was not a high flying, full speed, helmet-to-helmet collision.
It was not a hit resembling the Jay Cutler pancake from Week 8 courtesy of Ndamukong Suh.
It was from one or both of two hits that can both arguably be described as "gentle," at least in comparison to some of the frightening scenes that have taken place recently (Darrius Heyward-Bey's injury during Week three comes to mind).
On the first play in question, Cowboys' tackle Jay Ratliff tackled Vick from behind. Then, the very next play, Vick was knocked down by linebacker Ernie Sims.
Either hit could have caused the concussion, as both caused Vick's head to hit the ground.
But not too hard.
And that is why Vick's latest concussion is so worrisome.
Vick, a quarterback whose game is based on juking and ducking opposing defensive players, suffered, according to head coach Andy Reid, a "pretty significant concussion" after two less-than-terrifying hits.
His concussion is severe enough to already merit ruling him out to start Week 11.
No surprise considering Michael Vick's condition but Eagles plan to start Nick Foles vs. Washington on Sunday.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 12, 2012
Despite the intense research currently being conducted on concussions, the injury remains somewhat of a mystery.
For instance, consider the following ethically horrendous and extremely illegal experiment:
100 people are selected and subjected to blows to the head of the same force.
Not all of them will suffer a concussion.
According to currently widely accepted opinion, the reason for this disparity is that each athlete has their own individual injury "threshold," or force of a hit necessary for him or her to develop symptoms.
How should the Eagles handle Michael Vick and Nick Foles?
Yesterday's game showed that for Vick, that threshold may be lower than anyone could have expected.
Of course, it is important to say that this is based on speculation—an admittedly large amount of speculation at that.
However, in an athlete who has made his living this season on evading some of the fastest and strongest men on the planet who also seem to breach the Eagle backfield at will, even the possibility of being predisposed to concussions is enough to take pause.
As more and more research comes out about the long-term effects of repeated concussions, it becomes more clear by the day that Vick is in a very precarious situation.
Simply put, his long-term health is at stake.
After all, he already has a documented concussion history.
Though still a controversial topic, many believe that with each successive concussion, an athlete is at higher risk for more severe and prolonged symptoms, long-term brain damage, or even a lowered concussion threshold for future injuries.
In other words, he simply cannot take the type of beating that he has this season and continue to play in the NFL.
That bears repeating.
He cannot continue to play with the Eagles' current offensive line situation.
If he returns this season to take snaps behind the thinnest offensive line in the league, he will be hit.
And he will be hit again.
The smart money says he would also be at very high risk to suffer another concussion.
All while playing for a 3-6 team that is, more likely than not, going to be watching the playoffs rather than playing in them.
The Eagles should rest Vick until the offensive line is figured out during the offseason.
They should also do so in favor of beginning to develop their rookie quarterback, Nick Foles.
In other words, let the Nick Foles era officially begin.
Hopefully his concussion threshold is higher.
The author of this article is a soon-to-be Family Medicine resident physician with plans to eventually specialize in Primary Care (non-operative) Sports Medicine. The above information on concussions is based on the author's clinical knowledge and experience in the assessment and management of concussions under the direct supervision of Sports Medicine physicians and concussion specialists. It was also supplemented by the International Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport.
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