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Troy Polamalu Should Not Play Sunday Against the Bengals

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 27:  Strong safety Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers goes down with a head injury after making a tackle on offensive tackle Steve Maneri #68 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter on November 27, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  Pittsburgh defeated Kansas City 13-9.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Peter Aiken/Getty Images
Brendan O'HareContributor INovember 29, 2011

Troy Polamalu should not take the field on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, as much as this pains me to say. Even if he passes the "rigorous" series of concussion-based tests this week, I do not want him stepping foot on the field.

I realize that the Sunday game against the Cincinnati Bengals is one of the biggest of the year, a game that could determine who earns the Wild Card spot from the AFC North (it will be one of the two teams, most likely). But Polamalu's future health is too fragile already to potentially sabotage.

Polamalu suffered a blow to the head while tackling a Kansas City offensive lineman who caught a pass in the first quarter of Monday's game.

If you are a Steeler fan, you know that Polamalu is no stranger to brain trauma. He suffered five concussions before entering the NFL and has suffered at least that many since becoming an NFL player. He was taken out of a game last month when he suffered concussion-like symptoms, the same vague diagnosis the Steelers have given him this time.

Troy's violent, malicious style of play is what gets him into trouble in the first place. As Indianapolis Colts fans (with their experience with Bob Sanders) know, hard-hitting, somewhat undersized safeties who need to be involved on every play tend to get hurt more often than other players. Polamalu has had to take time off during other points in his career for other injuries, but the head seems to be a consistent offender.

I see a future where Troy Polamalu has trouble speaking with his kids because he suffered so many head injuries in his career. His life is cut short due to his brain resembling a raisin. It scares me, and it probably scares him.

But Troy, due to the fact that he is so selfless and competitive, would never ask out of a game. Someone in the Pittsburgh organization needs to step up and protect Troy from himself.

As research has shown, it is the commonplace injuries that add up and turn men into shells of their previous selves. I realize that maybe Troy was "asymptomatic relatively quickly," and maybe this was nothing more than a minor ordeal.

But the fact that Polamalu has spent so much of his NFL career with these head injuries worries me. These things add up, and they can result in horrible circumstances.

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