Detroit Lions: A Look at Jahvid Best's Concussion-Filled Career

Eric McKelvieSenior Writer IJanuary 27, 2013

DETROIT - OCTOBER 10:  Jahvid Best #44 of the Detroit Lions runs 88 yards for a third quarter touchdown during the game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on October 10, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

NFL fans won't be surprised if Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best decides to retire.

The 23-year-old has missed significant playing time during his three years with the Lions because of multiple concussions. 

Doctors wouldn’t clear Best to play this season and according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Best "isn’t expected to play football again." If that turns out to be the case, it would be a very sad end for Best, who had great potential when he entered the NFL. 

The Detroit Lions selected Best with the 30th pick in the 2010 NFL draft, which they obtained in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings. Best was the third running back selected, with only C.J. Spiller and Ryan Matthews going ahead of him. 

It was a gamble for the Lions, given Best had suffered two concussions in his final season with the California Golden Bears. The first concussion, which occurred against Arizona State, wasn’t considered serious and Best suited up the following week against Oregon State. 

It was during the second quarter of that game that Best suffered a serious concussion. As he hurdled into the end zone, Best was pushed by a defender in mid-air, causing him to land awkwardly on his back and head. His helmet came flying off and he lay motionless on the field before eventually being taken off on a stretcher. He would miss the rest of the season. 

In 30 games at Cal, Best had 364 carries for 2,668 yards and 29 touchdowns, along with 62 receptions for 533 yards and six touchdowns. He set a few team records, including most all-purpose yards in a season.

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Best would next take to the field in 2010 as a member of the Detroit Lions. He played in 15 games as a rookie, finishing with 171 carries for 555 yards and four touchdowns. He also caught 58 passes for 487 yards and two touchdowns—good numbers which would have been even better if not for a turf toe injury. 

Best got off to a rough start in 2011 when he suffered his third concussion in Detroit’s second preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. However, he was ready to play in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Best had 72 rushing yards and 42 receiving yards in that game. 

He remained a consistent factor on offense and in Week 5 against the Chicago Bears, Best recorded his first 100-yard rushing game. He had 163 rushing yards and a touchdown as the Lions improved to 5-0 on the season. 

Detroit’s game the following week against the San Francisco 49ers would be Best’s last in the NFL to date.   

Best suffered his fourth concussion in three years and was placed on the physically unable to perform list a few weeks later. 

Best started the 2012 season on the PUP list as well and, as previously mentioned, was never cleared to play.

It will be hard to find a running back with Best's talent and skill set, but that’s the task the Lions are faced with this offseason. 

Unfortunately, they never got the opportunity to see what kind of impact Best and Mikel Leshoure could have together as a one-two punch at running back. 

Best showed flashes of brilliance in his 22 games with Detroit, despite injuries. His speed and playmaking ability in the passing game were key assets to the offense. In 2011, the Lions were 5-1 with Best and just 5-5 without him. 

Best will turn 24 years old on Jan. 30. It’s hard to imagine that a player that young with that much talent will probably never play football again. However, with a history of concussions and his long-term health to consider, retirement is likely the best option.