After years of denying the dangers of concussions and traumatic brain injuries, the NFL has taken steps to ensure that players who suffer concussions get properly evaluated and can get the medical attention and rest needed to help heal their brains before returning to practice and games.
It’s an imperfect system, of course, but it remains so in part because of some players.
Kamu Grugier-Hill: I lied to trainers
On Thursday, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill told media that he withheld the truth from medical personnel during the team’s game against the Miami Dolphins.
Grugier-Hill told staff he’d hurt his shoulder.
“I just basically lied to them,” he said, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I thought it would just go away. Just didn’t really say anything about it. It got to the point where I really couldn’t lie to them anymore.”
He’d suffered a concussion on the game’s first play, when he collided with Dolphins’ receiver Devante Parker. Grugier-Hill played 54 total snaps between defense and special teams despite the injury.
But when his headaches still hadn’t subsided four days later, he came clean to the training staff. Grugier-Hill was put into concussion protocol and missed the Eagles’ last game, Monday night against the New York Giants.
He has since been cleared to return to game play. The 25-year-old said he’d never had a concussion before and wasn’t sure what it felt like.
Grugier-Hill said he doesn’t regret his decision, though he added, “I mean, I wish we would have at least got a win.”
Doug Pederson: ‘Very disappointing’
On Friday, Eagles coach Doug Pederson expressed disappointment in Grugier-Hill, who has been with the team for four years.
“We know how important head and neck injuries are to our league and to just the person, the player himself, the well-being of the player,” Pederson said. “And so from that standpoint, to have this come back like this and for him to admit what he has said and done is very disappointing for me as a head coach.
“After putting our players through meetings and instructing our player. And it’s not a reflection on the team or anything like that. It’s just one guy who made a bad decision, bad choice.”
Pederson said the team meets with players to encourage them to report any suspected head injuries, and also encourages players to report a teammate they suspect might be dealing with a head injury.
“I take football aside,” Pederson said. “I say, ‘Hey, this is a well-being issue.’ Had he maybe got hit again in that game, who knows what could have happened.”
Pederson, who played in the NFL, has at times praised players for playing through injury, but knows concussions are different, and can be dangerous.
“Maybe then, maybe you could,” Pederson said of playing through concussions during his time in the NFL. “But now, there’s too many things in place, too many protocols, too many standards that we, as coaches and as players, were trying to protect our game and the well-being of every player.
“In a sense, it’s a little bit of a selfish act to take it upon yourself and make that decision when he could have gotten checked out right away.”
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