Hines Ward never returned to the game Sunday after being the victim of Ray Lewis's helmet battering ram, but the way the whole incident was handled should really be a cause for concern. Ward, who was directly in the helmet by the projectile Lewis, was removed from the game after he got up woozy-eyed and delirious. So far, so good, and nothing to complain about. Could the concussion issue be turning somewhat of a page?
Well, of course not. A few minutes later, Al Michaels announced to America that Ward had suffered a "stinger" and his return was questionable. Good God. I played mediocre football for three years, and suffered a few stingers. In all the times that I was rendered unable to move my shoulder, it did not affect my balance or eye color.
For the Steelers to try and pull a fast one on football's biggest regular season stage is kind of astounding. This is a week after all the hoopla surrounding the referees who would now be entrusted with telling whether or not a player was having his brain rattle around his skull. All this further proves is that the men and women who actually take care of the players need to be further evaluated, and be less corrupted by the nasally coaches and upper management yelling at the players to get back in.
Ward did not return, and that is good. But just the fact that the Steelers would have the audacity to even entertain the thought of Ward's resurrection is amazingly infuriating. The reform for player safety is absurd, a topic that has been strenuously complained about by myself. If we are not going to make the game on the field more safe, we need to make sure the doctors on the sidelines who are in charge of diagnoses are not easily swayed and put the team ahead of a player's health.
The Steelers are a franchise that has been littered with concussion incidents, whether it is Troy Polamalu's on-going transformation into a squash, or former center and icon Mike Webster's unfortunate suicide stemming from years of being batted around and not wanting to deal with the pain anymore. The latter is the extreme, but the unfortunate outcome for a lot of these players. We now have the power to possibly prevent things like that from happening due to advances in medical science, advanced equipment, and a better understanding of the human brain and how it reacts to being repeatedly shaken. But we still don't use these tools to their full extent, and that's shocking.
Cris Collinsworth laughed when Michaels said Ward was "questionable", a noise that perfectly summed up my reaction. To even insinuate that Ward didn't just suffer a concussion is laughable. But it's a laugh at, not a laugh with. Ward will be playing this week, as the stinger has suddenly turned into concussion-like symptoms, which apparently isn't a concussion, even though it is. We all know Ward was the recipent of a concussion, yet he'll still be playing, further proving that Greg Aillelo and whoever is in charge of this doesn't give a crap about the players.
The NFL is like the cigarette industry in the 1980's, giving out phony warning about a product they know is dead