By now, all Bears fans know that reserve linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer is out for the season with symptoms of a concussion. The injury was suffered in the Bears third preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.
After being held out for a few weeks, he finally returned to action this past Sunday against the Detroit Lions, but was pulled after suffering symptoms of an illness.
After some tests, it was determined that Hillenmeyer was still suffering from the effects of a concussion, and would be shut down for the remainder of the season. Both the team and Hillenmeyer didn’t want to risk further damage in his case and let him sit the rest of the season.
Hillenmeyer is smart enough that he recognized the problem and along with the Bears staff, they decided to not expose him to further injury.
Was this a smart thing to do? Of course it was.
It would be tough (and crazy) to expect a player to keep playing after suffering a concussion and then three weeks later ending up still being sick from it.
That same day, another player on another team, linebacker Stewart Bradley, ended up suffering an apparent concussion (he could barely get up off the ground and when he did he stumbled around like a prize fighter who had just been given a big shot to the head) and was taken out of the game.
However, later on in that same game, the team ended up getting him back in to play. Was this the wrong thing to do?
When it comes to a player’s long-term health, the team and the player should always consider the player’s long-term physical well being over their needs in a game.
Obviously, this is what the Bears did with Hillenmeyer, opting to have him sit the rest of the season instead of playing, despite the fact he has been more than an adequate backup and the Bears linebackers have a history of getting hurt, so Hillenmeyer's presence would be very valuable to the Bears.
While the Bears have many critics of their coaching staff, their front office staff and their players there is one thing about the Bears that can’t be criticized, and that is how they take care of their players. The way that they treated Hillenmeyer in this instance is not the only example of how well the Bears treat their players (both current and even former) in the past.
This was certainly the right move, and it will help protect the player from further damage to his body.
The Bears have signed Rod Wilson, a former Bears' player, to take Hillenmeyer’s place on the roster, and hopefully Wilson will be able to step-up if needed and fill in comfortably for Hillenmeyer. Hopefully the guy that Wilson is backing up (middle linebacker Brian Urlacher) doesn’t get hurt at any time this season.
Wilson will play on special teams, for the most part, as he played with the Bears before and saw most of his action on special teams. The nice thing about him is that he is familiar with the defensive system that the Bears run, so there won’t be that big learning curve there.