Last week, Baltimore Ravens LB Sergio Kindle informed the San Antonio Express-News that he has been cleared by a team of doctors for physical contact on the football field starting this year.
However, the head injury Kindle sustained when he fell down two flights of stairs at a social function has left the former Texas standout with a significant balance disorder.
Back in December 2010, when Kindle was arrested in Maryland under suspicion of DUI, the Ravens’ second-round pick from last year’s draft blamed his equilibrium for the lack of control he displayed while driving his automobile.
Even if Kindle’s claim had the slightest shred of truth to it, how can he expect to excel in a sport that completely relies on one’s ability to maintain good balance and movement, when he supposedly couldn’t perform one of the more simple tasks in life—driving.
Shortly after Kindle’s DUI conviction back in May, we published an article arguing why the Ravens should cut ties with the former Longhorn. We still stand by our beliefs, which have been reinforced by the recent news that Kindle is battling ongoing symptoms from his brain injury, which is causing balance difficulties for Kindle.
However, in Kindle’s recent statement to the Express-News, the second-year linebacker maintained he’s 100-percent healthy and looking forward to a full season of football.
“I'm 100-percent now. I've been lifting weights since I got to Baltimore,” Kindle said. “Now I'm actually training, football training, without the contact. Now I just have to wait and see whatever the lockout does so I can give it a shot.”
In the current climate of the NFL lockout, players are barred from taking part in drills that involve contact, so it will be tough for Kindle to gauge his progress until the lockout is officially lifted.
Balance disorders can be very difficult to treat, because they involve a part of the brain that is difficult to stimulate—the cerebellum. In Kindle’s case, he suffered bruising to the cerebellum, which is located at the base of the brain and is essential for most of life’s functions.
The permanent loss of hearing in Kindle’s left ear is also a direct result of damage to part of his cerebellum.
In severe cases, damage to the cerebellum can result in permanent loss of motor skills, thinking and reasoning. Memory loss, or the inability to remember certain events, can also be caused by excessive damage to this part of the brain.
Luckily, for Kindle, he escaped with relatively minor side effects of his initial injury, but the effects still plaguing Kindle are the kinds of problems that can keep an athlete off the football field indefinitely.
Due to the lockout firmly in place, interaction between players and coaches is nonexistent. However, head coach John Harbaugh did manage to fire off a few remarks about Kindle in an interview with the Baltimore Sun late last week.
“The doctors cleared [Kindle] to play football and that was back in March,” Harbaugh said. “There is some paperwork he has to sign off on to make that final.”
“So I assume, since [Kindle] said that he said that, he signed off on that paperwork and he’ll be ready to go, but I don’t know for a fact, because I haven’t talked to Sergio,” Harbaugh said.
When asked if Kindle would participate in training camp, Harbaugh had the following to say.
“Now to me, really, it’s just how he does,” Harbaugh concluded. “Is there any impact from the brain injury to his athletic ability and his ability for contact?”
Harbaugh’s remarks echo similar concerns we have as to how effective Kindle will be on the football field as a Raven, or on any other team for that matter. Additionally, there’s no way to spin Harbaugh’s comments to the Sun, as they are hardly a luminous endorsement for Kindle to remain with the Ravens in the upcoming season.
As soon as the lockout ends, you can bet Harbaugh will confirm through Kindle’s physicians, everything the linebacker has said up until this point about his ability to participate with the Ravens in team exercises and, ultimately, the 2011 NFL season.
There’s no doubt the Ravens would love to have a player like Kindle in their corps of linebackers, but the literal blow Kindle took to his ability to maintain balance and coordination over a year ago, may prove too much for the talented linebacker to overcome.
Therefore, Kindle’s status with the Ravens remains uncertain, let alone, his entire NFL career.
Todd McGregor is a Baltimore Ravens Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.
Follow Todd on Twitter! Twitter.com/ravens023