The NFL’s concussion protocol is seemingly scrutinized on a weekly basis and rightfully so. The protocol, if executed correctly, should implement safeguards for a player to prevent him from risking further injury. But instances like this with Texans QB Tom Savage are scary:
Tom Savage hits head on ground, appears to have seizure while ref looks on, comes back in the game 5 minutes later. pic.twitter.com/gW9lYxDIwQ— TheRenderNFL (@TheRenderNFL) December 10, 2017
A reaction like this should be enough to end a player’s day, but Savage was back in the game not long after this. Concussions are a dangerous part of the sport of football and as more awareness around the issue arises, more players are looking at their long term health over an NFL paycheck.
On Sunday against the Panthers, WR Davante Adams’ concussion didn’t produce the same kind of reaction that Tom Savage had, but it was Adams’ second of the season and third in two seasons. At some point, he and the Packers have to start thinking about Adams’ future health.
According to Play Smart, Play Safe, 244 concussions were reported in the 2016 regular season and preseason. And those are just reported concussions. Most concussions occur without losing consciousness. So if an NFL player doesn’t black out from getting a cheap shot to the head, that doesn’t mean they haven’t damaged their brain in some way. In this collision sport, people don’t take into consideration enough all the minor dings and hits that your average football player absorbs. Throughout high school and college, Davante Adams could have sustained more head trauma than just the three concussions that the Packers are aware of, and that has to be considered in terms of his future.
That’s why it’s frustrating as a sports fan to see Danny Trevathan of the Bears line up a shot on Adams when he can’t protect himself. Or, this past weekend, seeing Carolina’s Thomas Davis throw a head-to-head shot at Davante when neither were a part of the play. In those fractions of seconds, those linebackers could’ve shortened Adams’ career by a couple years because of the collective toll from head collisions and those that might not have occurred yet.
Former NFL wideout and current Texans offensive/special teams assistant coach, Wes Welker, suffered three of his six documented concussions during a nine-month span that started in 2013. Emphasis on documented. That period was the beginning of the end for Welker’s career because teams feared backlash for signing a player with such an extensive head-injury history. And like Welker, Adams is entering an off-season as a free agent with three fairly recent concussions. That’s something the Packers have to consider when discussing a long-term contract for Davante.
APC’s Tex Western wrote last week that Adams could see a contract similar to Alshon Jeffrey’s 4-year, $52 million dollar deal. According to Sports Illustrated, $27 million of that is guaranteed for the Eagles wide receiver. Green Bay might want to make a larger part of the Adams deal incentive-laden. Not for production, of course, but for games played and that just adds further frustration to the Trevathan and Davis hits: neither were Davante’s fault, nor were they normal football plays.
Because Green Bay might consider doing that from a business perspective, Adams would then feel pressure to return earlier from injury rather than playing it safe. If that’s the case, Adams will have to think long and hard before signing on the dotted line.
Of course, what’s more important than the team’s cap space maneuvering is Adams’ long-term health. Davante will be just 25 in a few days and while he still has plenty of potential football in front of him, he also has a whole lot of life to live. In recent years, we’ve seen a growing group of players cut their careers short voluntarily because of concussion concerns. Former Jets tackle and All-Cool Football Name First-Teamer D’Brickashaw Ferguson decided to hang up his cleats at age 32. San Francisco’s Chris Borland, as well as the Bills’ A.J. Tarpley, have called their careers early due to concussion concerns. That list is growing, too.
It’s easy to say a football player couldn’t pass up NFL riches, but when Junior Seau commits suicide as a result of CTE and Antwaan Randle-El wishes he had never played the sport of football, those ‘riches’ lose their value.
The NFL as a whole needs a drastic overhaul in player safety despite how big of a priority they claim it is. Consequences for violent, unnecessary hits are almost non-existent once they’re rammed through the appeals process. The only thing I’m certain happens under that blue tent once a player gets a concussion is a broken procedure.
In the best case scenario, the Packers lock up Davante Adams and he has a long, healthy and fulfilling career in green and gold.
But given the current state of the NFL, Adams and the Packers organization will need to consider not taking the risk.