The Pro Football Concussion Report

A Fan's Look at Head Injuries and the Concussion Crisis in Football

Taylor almost loses leg. Angry at missing 3 Weeks.

Jason Taylor, University of Akron, 1996


“I was mad because I had to sit out three weeks,” Jason Taylor says of the time he had to have emergency surgery to avoid having his leg amputated. After a game, Taylor had developed “compartment syndrome” in which muscle bleeds into a cavity, causing nerve damage. Two more hours, and Taylor would have had one less leg. “The things we do . . . players play. It is who we are. We always think we can overcome.”

Everything is lined up to get the unhealthy player back on the field — the desire of the player, the guy behind you willing to endure more for the paycheck, the urging of the coaches and teammates, the culture that mocks and eradicates the weak and the doctor whose job it is not necessarily to keep the player healthy but healthy enough to be valuable to the team, which isn’t the same thing at all. The doctor gives the player the diagnosis and the consequences on the sidelines with in-game injuries, without the benefit of an MRI, and then the player makes a choice with the information about whether to take a pain-masking shot. And the choice is always to play.

The training room? Taylor hated guys who “took up residency” there, calling them “soft.” His mentor, Dan Marino, has a quote up on one of the walls in there, something about how being in the training room doesn’t make you part of the team. Taylor was proud to learn that one of his own quotes has been put up in there, too: Be a player, not a patient. So even the one solitary place designated for healing in football, the one safe haven, is literally surrounded on all sides by walls of voices telling the player to get the hell out of here.

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