The Pro Football Concussion Report

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

The only thing he wants to know is “Can he go?”

Ryan Clark (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)


The doctor talks to the trainer, the trainer talks to the position coach, the position coach talks to the head coach. The head coach doesn’t talk to the injured player; the only thing he wants to know is “Can he go?” There are a lot of questions asked of players who are hurt or injured, and all of them are designed to decide which it is: hurt or injured. “There are head coaches who, if you’re not playing or practicing, won’t talk to you. Matt Hasselbeck continues, “That’s an old-school technique, but, to be honest, I kind of like it.” Writer Tom Junod interviews Hasselbeck, as well as Ryan Clark, Jonathan Babineaux, Willis McGahee, and Ed Reed as part of “Theater of Pain” in the upcoming issue of Esquire magazine.
Other gems include Ryan Clark: “We have some former players as coaches, and not one of them looks normal. People always ask me, ‘Are you feeling good?’ No. You never feel good. Once the season starts, you never feel good. But it becomes your way of life. It becomes the norm. It’s different from a guy going to work at a bank. If he felt like I did, he wouldn’t get out of bed. He’d call in.”
Junod also gets interesting insight regarding injuries and pain in the NFL from current players as well as comments from several team doctors. The players echo Robert Griffin III’s statement about the difference between being injured and being hurt in the NFL. Junod to McGahee: “So you don’t consider the concussion an injury? “That’s what they consider it. But getting a concussion and hurting your knee are two different things. You get back up from a concussion. Willis McGahee was knocked out cold against the Steelers. He went out on the board. He didn’t consider himself injured, though, because like all NFL players he considers himself an expert in what qualifies as an injury and what doesn’t. The loss of consciousness he suffered in Pittsburgh didn’t qualify because it didn’t require rehabilitation. It didn’t put his career in jeopardy. It didn’t exile him from his teammates.”
On Ed Reed: He has not only returned interceptions for more yards than anyone else in the history of the game; he is also a player known for an acute awareness of his own body. “I always tell the younger guys to take care of their company,” he says. “That’s what I call the body, because that’s what it is — it’s your asset.” He uses his own doctor instead of the team doctor and counsels other players to do the same.
The entire piece is great reading with unusual candor from current players and doctors.

Return to Home