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"Hurt Locker" Archive


Rodney Harrison makes emotional plea for Peyton Manning to put health first

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Yesterday Peyton Manning was cleared to return to football. I still don’t understand what, exactly, that means [Update: Jim Irsay has said that the team is releasing a statement today as Manning as NOT been cleared by the team to play]. I also don’t know why he’d even consider playing after three neck surgeries involving bones being fused and scary things of that nature. Apparently Rodney Harrison doesn’t either. Harrison, along with other NBCers were on a panel for the debut of Bob Costas’s new show “Costas Tonight” and Harrison took a moment to address player safety and injuries. Harrison was clearly emotional and having some trouble expressing his himself coherently-maybe he didn’t want to go too far in criticizing the sport. But he started a sentence by saying if he’d known NOW what he knew back then when he was trying to establish his reputation as a hitter he… but then he didn’t complete the thought.

During his speaking turn, Harrison also mentioned his own chronic discomfort, headaches, and short term memory loss saying that his wife is constantly checking on him. He finished by addressing Manning’s situation. He didn’t come right out and say that Manning shouldn’t return but he did say that Manning should walk away before he ends up in a wheel chair. It’s worth watching if only because you don’t see Harrison’s sensitive side very often. I’m sure many of us remember hating Harrison as a player and thinking of him as dirty years ago when he was knocking folks down for the Patriots.

Odd moment with Cris Collinsworth, though. I didn’t see the show live so I don’t know if this was the result of choppy editing or not. But after Harrison is done talking, Collinswoth goes on a somewhat defensive tangent about how his sons play football and how it turns boys into men. It seemed off color since Harrison just explained how football also turns boys into men with chronic pain. I also thought it was tone deaf for a former wide receiver to make that point given that it’s a “safer” position. This is not to say that WRs don’t banged up too…when Chris Henry died his autopsy showed early signs of serious brain damage. But I have to acknowledge that being a hard hitting safety is a little different from playing wide receiver. Again, it could have been the editing. If you saw it live, let me know.



Cowboys Lose Demarco Murray For Rest of (Regular) Season - Can’t Close Games

Cowboys running back Demarco Murray broke his ankle against the Giants.

The Cowboys are a very frustrating team.

I can deal with a team that simply lacks the talent to beat other teams. But when a team has about all the talent you can ask for and is still rather middle-of-the-road it’s frustrating. The Cowboys have a good QB, two solid receivers, an elite Tight End, and a great running back, yet they still can’t put it together. And for all of Rob Ryan’s big talk his defense sure isn’t consistent especially when it matters most.

Both the Cowboys and the Giants played up and down last night. And ultimately it came down to the teams’ patterns: The Cowboys made costly mistakes at the end and the Giants were carried by Eli Manning’s heroics. By the way, he hit over 4K yards passing for the season last night. After the game was over, Arash Markazi made this observation that is 100% correct.

Cowboys led 34-22 with 3:30 left and no one that has watched this team under Garrett was remotely confident.
I had to retweet this because I turned away from the game to watch the Kardashians. I flip back to the game and saw the Giants were down with 3 minutes left and knew they would at least score once more. The Giants went on to score TWO more times and then went for a two point conversion and got it. The Cowboys got the ball back down 3, kicked a field goal and made it BUT Coughlin had already called time out before the snap. When the cowboys kicked again, Pierre-Paul got his hand on it and it went…nowhere. Giants win.
Cowboys lose in a number of ways.
1. Demarco Murray is out for the rest of the regular season with a fracture and a high ankle sprain. Murray has been a Godsend to Romo since replacing Felix Jones in the lineup.
Murray exploded onto the scene with a franchise-record 253 yards against St. Louis on Oct. 23. He entered Sunday’s game on track to become the Cowboys’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Julius Jones in 2007. He had 872 yards on the season and 25 yards on five carries against the Giants before getting hurt.
Romo is going to miss Murray dearly and if the Cowboys want to salvage hope of the playoffs they’re going to have to hope that Romo’s extra throws won’t result in extra interceptions.
2. The Cowboys aren’t closing. Markazi found this stat:
Amazing stat. From 1960-2010 Cowboys have blown a 12-point lead in the 4th quarter twice. They’ve done it 3 times in 2011.  Cowboys are 12-9 under Garrett. They’ve blown a 4th quarter lead in 8 of 9 losses, losing by more than 4 only once.
Cowboys finish the season  with games against Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, and the Giants. Anyone who feels confident predicting how these games will turn out is way braver than I am. Tampa Bay has been imploding but they can play tough when they want to. Again, if they can hang around until the 4th quarter and force Romo to turn the ball over, it’s anyone’s game, really. When it comes to the Eagles, who the hell knows which Eagles team will show up. That game could be a blow out by either team or a nail biter. Who the hell knows. And if this game against the Giants came down to the wire, I bet the next one will too, especially if it’s a division decider.
Obviously, the Cowboys best way into the playoffs is to win out.

Joe Horn One of Several Former Players Suing NFL Over Use of Painkiller

Former WR Joe Horn as I like to remember him--being a fun-loving divo.

Let’s just start with the details:

“The plaintiffs have described the situation as one of being in a pregame locker room with players lining up to receive injections of Toradol in a ‘cattle call’ with no warnings of any sort being given, no distinguishing between different medical conditions of the players, and regardless of whether the player had an injury of any kind,” the suit alleges.

The dozen retired players, including Joe Horn, Matt Joyce and Jerome Pathon, played in the late 1990s and early 2000s and say they now have anxiety, depression, short-term memory loss, severe headaches, sleeping problems and dizziness, according to Christopher A. Seeger, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs.

“We took it like clockwork,” said Horn, a receiver who played 12 years with the Kansas City Chiefs, the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons and who says he now experiences bouts of dizziness and blackouts. “They don’t meet with you to tell you what will happen five years later. Had I known that there were going to be complications, I wouldn’t have taken the shots.”

In accusing the league of negligence, fraud, fraudulent concealment, negligent misrepresentation and conspiracy, the former players are seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages, and the reimbursement of their legal costs.

The league disputed the suit’s claims.

It’s possible this suit could have critical implications. We all know when it comes to football NFL rules about health get stretched…by everyone including the players. What the former players are arguing here is that the power to make a decision about whether or not to risk their health was taken out of their hands. It’s probably not relevant to the lawsuit, but I can’t help but wonder what they would have done with that information? Would they really not have taken the drug? Again, not necessarily relevant to the case but it does represent the kind of questions that will come up depending on the direction it all takes.

I think of New York Giants OT Stacy Andrews who was coughing up blood and originally thought he had a rib issue this week. Turns out he had a pulmonary embolism in BOTH lungs and could have died. Andrews is lucky he and the trainers looked further into his symptoms. There are lots of symptoms and signs that get ignored especially late in the season when everyone is stressing about closing the season right and setting themselves up for a spot on the team next year.

I guess what I’m saying in a roundabout sort of way is that hiding information is somewhat a permanent part of the game and how the legal system handles this case could get really interesting. The symptoms the players who are suing describe are not uncommon among former players-how much they are tied to a particular painkiller is going to be up for serious debate.





Doctors: Jay Cutler’s Surgery Not A Choice — Plus My Thoughts on Comparing QB Injuries

Jay Cutler just can't catch a break. Get it? break. haha...ha...ha. Oh well. Photo via Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images courtesy of Sports Illustrated

I can only hope that one day an entire season will go by without someone questioning Jay Cutler’s toughness and commitment to the team or whining about some face he made (or didn’t make). During the week 11 games Cutler broke his thumb and had surgery on it which could put him out for 6 weeks. Well, 6 weeks is way optimistic, 8 or 9 weeks sounds more like it. That means he’d be out into the playoffs. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has also been diagnosed with a thumb break, and the fact that he isn’t going to miss a game set the sports talk word on fire with people, once again, insisting that Cutler is just a big old pussy. WRONG.

After hearing questions Monday over the airwaves wondering why Bears quarterback Jay Cutler can’t play with a broken thumb in his throwing hand the way Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is, Dr. Mark Cohen offered a second opinion.

It doesn’t mean Big Ben has a bigger threshold for pain. It simply means Cutler has a different injury.

“Jay Cutler having the surgery now means the bone is broken and shifted or displaced and is not what they call a stable fracture,” said Cohen, a hand surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. “It’s an unstable fracture. On those you can’t wait because they’ll heal crooked or won’t heal properly. The guy had a significant thumb injury and he’s got to have the bone fixed so the bone can heal. He has no choices. The doctors have no choices. This is cut-and-dried.”

Let’s repeat this again for the slow muthafuckers in the back:

It doesn’t mean Big Ben has a bigger threshold for pain. It simply means Cutler has a different injury.It doesn’t mean Big Ben has a bigger threshold for pain. It simply means Cutler has a different injury.It doesn’t mean Big Ben has a bigger threshold for pain. It simply means Cutler has a different injury.It doesn’t mean Big Ben has a bigger threshold for pain. It simply means Cutler has a different injury.

It’s no secret that Ben Roethlisberger is my favorite QB and one of the things I like the most about him is the toughness he exudes both mentally and physically. But there are plenty of times when being tough crosses the line into being dumb as a bag of rocks and my honey Ben is no stranger to either concept.

This whole comparison habit people have reared its ugly head again when some, stupidly, compared Michael Vick’s rib injury to Tony Romo’s rib injury. I’m no doctor, but it seems common sense would tell folks that all rib injuries are NOT the same. Further, given the fact that players have different styles of play (not to mention throwing motions), it would follow that even if two players had the EXACT same injury (which isn’t likely) one may be able to play while the other couldn’t.

I was really upset at the suggestion that Vick should play with his rib injury just because Tony Romo did especially since the Eagles season is all but officially over and the team does need a healthy QB for next season. But that’s still really besides the point. All the newly minted ‘doctors’ in the sports world really need take a step back and stop rushing to see who can be the most foolish.

But far be it from me to insist that facts should impede a person’s ability to mock a player.




Former DT Kris Jenkins Says Football Is Hell — Gives Good Insight Into Football’s Reality

Kudos to the NFL for actually linking to the NYT Kris Jenkins post on They've taken their heads out of the sand.

The NY Times, which has done great work on the NFL’s concussion issues, compiled some quotes from DT Kris Jenkins on the behind the scenes parts of football. He describes football as hell and gives some good details about what it does to the mind (foggy thinking) and body (chronic pain and numbness).

The first thing people do when they hear football players talk about the consequences of playing football is get defensive. Reactions range from uninformed ( “Well, they get paid a lot of money so…”) to wildly exaggerated ( “They know the consequences when they begin!”) to irrelevant ( “I don’t feel sorry for any of these guys.”) to blatantly racist (“Well if they weren’t playing football they’d probably be in jail.”)

Being the nice girl that I am, I’ve covered all those bases for you so that you don’t have to. That way, all you have to do is read Kris’ thoughts without being feeling pressured to say something dumb.

The entire piece can be read here.

Here are a couple of the excerpts that stuck out to me the most.

N.F.L. fans, people outside, they have no clue what goes on. This isn’t like playing Madden. This isn’t like being the popular kid in high school. When you do those things in the real world, and it don’t work out, you still have your health. The thing about football is you’re directly playing with your life, the quality of it and the longevity of it. The stakes are up there.

You ever been in a car crash? Done bumper cars? You know when that hit catches you off guard and jolts you, and you’re like, what the hell? Football is like that. But 10 times worse. It’s hell.

I got my first N.F.L. concussion against Green Bay, my rookie year. I jumped, and my feet got clipped, and I hit the ground face-first. Bang! No shoulders. No chest. Nothing. Just my face hit. I got up, and I had the punch-drunk feeling, seeing starbursts and feeling giddy. I knew where I was. I knew what was going on. I also knew I had my bell rung. I made tackles back to back, and I remember one coach saying, the way he’s playing right now, the concussion probably did him some good. I played the whole game.

The debate about concussions wasn’t there yet. I’ve had more than 10, including college and the pros. Nobody cared. And that’s the thing. We play football.

I remember one game, at Carolina, my second year. We played Arizona, and the double team weighed 780 pounds combined. They just kept double-teaming me, hoping I would fold and cave in. I didn’t. But that was probably the most painful day I had.

From the double teams, over the years, I wore the left side of my body down. I was past hurt. I was at the point of numb. Like my body was shutting down nervous systems, so I didn’t have to deal with pain.


I mean, guys play hurt, but it’s a choice. They do a pretty good job now, with all the scrutiny around concussions. On the line, it’s still painful. By the end of the year, half an offensive line might be getting shots, draining fluid from their knees. Most stay away from cortisone now, because it’s degenerative.

Everything gets off center. Bulging disk. Herniated disk. For linemen, it starts in the lower back. Throws everything off.

I can’t blame anybody for my death. I made the choice to play football. I made the choice to walk through the concussions. I could have stopped. I could have said, my head hurts. It was my choice, as a man. We consider football a gladiator sport because we understand you’re going to get hurt. You’re putting your life on the line. You might not die now, like in an old Roman arena, but 5, 10 years down the road, you could. You know that.

I wouldn’t change anything.


When we come into the N.F.L., we’re idiots. Because you’ve been groomed from childhood to think the rules don’t apply to you.

So this is what happens. You’re going to be warned. The first warning is the first meeting you have with an agent, when you realize this is real. My choices count at this point. I’m going to be prostituting myself for the next 18 years of my life.

That’s the first warning. The next one is that good old combine.

That’s when you realize, when you march in that room half naked, I’m a number now. They’ve changed the recruiting process to a percentage.

That’s what you are.

The third warning is when you get that contract. Most of the language in there is standardized. The gist of it is, stay in line, or else.

Your last warning is in training camp because there’s no learning curve. That’s when you realize that it all ties in together, and it will be that way as long as you’re playing.

I went through so much in Carolina, it was ridiculous. People checking up on us in clubs. Concerns with the locker room. John Fox was our coach. He was a big cliché guy. He’d say, do as I say, not as I do.

That didn’t make sense to me.


Right now, it’s more important than ever for guys to take care of themselves off the field. The Patriots do it right. They have an acupuncturist on staff. They do Pilates. That’s one secret to their success: recovery.

You can do a lot off the field. You can lift. You can run. But that trauma, that rattling, that impact, there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Your body is going to naturally react. Your muscles will tighten up. Fluid builds.

The unfortunate thing is the timing of the off-season. You don’t have enough time. You get a month off, and you use that to mentally relax.

But your body is still tense from all that impact, from all that pain.

I don’t think the science is keeping up with the changes in the game.

We’re not on grass anymore. We’re on turf, which is disgusting for fat people. I hate turf. It’s the worst thing ever invented for a lineman.

Your knees absorb the impact. It’s being bounced up through your body through the concrete. Into your lower back. Into your lower spine.

People don’t want to put up with the gunk and the mud, but that was one of the best parts of the game. Playing in mud, when you can’t get a grip, when it’s disgusting. That’s football. The entertainment value was just fine back then.

The thing is, when guys retire, then stuff happens to their body; they’re coming back, screaming like we’re the martyrs in all this.


My primary observation is that the more I read former players’ experiences in football,the more I believe there will be a point where society moves past football due to the brutality of it. Jenkins and other former players like Jamie Dukes and current players like Ray Lewis refer to football as a modern Gladiator sport. I think this comparison is valid for a number of reasons and just as society became too civilized for Gladiator battles it will at some point become too progressive for football.

Information is always the beginning of the end. The only variable is time.

When I was growing up, I was a huge fan of boxing. In fact, I wanted to be a boxer at one point. As I got older watching the sport made me cringe. I’m getting to that point with MMA however the repeated blows to the head in boxing made me more wary of it than the more total body sport of MMA. At any rate, I’ve heard a number of reasons given for why boxing is no longer popular. But what people rarely say is that society just isn’t into the raw brutality of organized blood baths anymore. And watching heroes like Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali struggle post-career makes it much harder for some of us to enjoy current boxers cause we’re now hyper-aware of what comes next.

What keeps football relevant and growing is the distance between the players and fans. The padding, the helmets, the fantasy of it. No, football isn’t Madden, but IS Madden to the viewer. The guys aren’t real or human in any sense of the word to the average fan. They’re largely faceless interchangeable pieces unlike boxers who are bound to and thrive off the extreme individuality of their sport. But now that former players are coming forward telling their stories — not for money, not for sympathy, but just for your information-they’re pouring the warmth of humanity over a sports dish best served cold and nondescript. We’re inching ever closer to thinking about football the way we’ve always avoided thinking about it.

I love football, I believe it is the greatest sport on earth. I enjoy going to games and experiencing the energy of the crowds, the crack of the helmets, the flying turf, the intensity of two teams laying it all on the line. I get into the sheer enormity of something that was just supposed to be a small piece of entertainment. But would I let MY son play? Hell no.










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