Posted on December 29, 2012 · Posted in Brain Injury

Here’s a real-life explanation about why NFL players hide their concussions.

At a press briefing Friday, sports writers learned that New York Jets Greg McElroy, third-string quarterback to Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, concealed the fact that he suffered a concussion last Sunday. McElroy was sacked 11 times in that game against the San Diego Chargers, which was his first game start. He had been slated to start this Sunday against Buffalo.

But Friday Jets coach Rex Ryan told reporters that McElroy came to his office Thursday morning to confess that he was having bad headaches, a symptom of concussions.

“You’re not going to believe this one … I was stunned by it,” Ryan told reporters, according to the New York Daily News.

Such are the pressures of playing, or trying to play, in the big leagues. The NFL has distributed a lot of information about the dangers of playing when you have a concussion. Players can’t say that they don’t know the possible long-term brain damage they can sustain. Yet McElroy lied.

The reason is obvious: He wanted another chance to start in a game.

Ryan did the right thing when he learned about McElroy’s real condition.

“There’s no way I’m going to play him,” the coach said. “There’s no doubt. I don’t care what the tests say. We’re going to err on the side of caution.”

Daily News sports columnist Tim Smith wrote about the situation in a piece headlined “Nobody Wins When Players Don’t Reveal Their Symptoms.” He said that McElroy had tried “a dangerous ploy.”

Smith said that McElroy could have suffered permanent brain damage if he played and had head injuries this Sunday.

“It is the risk that some NFL players, certainly those who are fighting for roster spots and starting positions, are willing to take,” he wrote.

Smith then cited the case of San Francisco’s Alex Smith, a talented quarterback who was benched with a concussion in November.

“Once he was healthy, he could never get his starting job back from Colin Kaepernick,” Smith wrote.

It may turn out that Alex Smith is better off with the way things happened, rather than risk the kind of brain damage that has plagued players who then committed suicide.

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447