Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Jan 2009

Aaron Schatz on the B.S. Report: 1/5

It's hip! It's cool! It's touching on mature subjects! It's 40! It's the B.S. Report! Join Aaron and Bill Simmons for a Wild Card review and Divisional preview.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 06 Jan 2009

12 comments, Last at 07 Jan 2009, 11:09pm by Stevie


by Whiskey (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 11:55am

You've inspired me to go register at Deadspin under the username Kids In DeAngelo Hall.

by Levente from Hungary :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 1:23pm

If you want to skip the BS before Aaron, he starts around 52 minutes.

by Eddo :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 2:24pm

It is mentioned that Ellard played a little bit in the more WR-favorable 90s, and that he had some good years at the end of his career. Could it be that that hurts Ellard, in that now people remember him as a contemporary of Irvin and Carter? Just a thought.

by noahpoah :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 5:15pm

A snippet of transcription:


AS: Light concussion... what're you talking about? You're brain banged against your skull. It's not that light.

BS: Well, Welker had a concussion after the Ryan Clark hit and came back a week later... [laughter]

AS: Yeah, see, I mean depending on the strength of the concussion a week later seems bad but not as bad as in that game...


Of course, the point was that coming back into a game with a concussion suffered earlier in the same game is a bad idea, whereas playing a week later is less of a bad idea, but I still found it funny that Aaron mocked the very concept of a 'light concussion' only to make use of the same concept about ten seconds later.

Anyway, hasn't it been discussed on this very site that a rule automatically keeping people out, say, two weeks after a concussion would provide an even stronger incentive than already exists to hide concussions from trainers and coaches? These are, after all, grown men who choose to play football professionally. They are, or at least should be, able to take responsibility for their decisions.

by Lucidus (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 8:28pm

These are, after all, grown men who choose to play football professionally. They are, or at least should be, able to take responsibility for their decisions.

By the same token, grown men who choose to play football professionally are always in cutthroat competition for roster spots. The knowledge that your livelihood depends on appearing gung-ho and playing even through injury/concussions puts unsustainable pressure on the players already, especially for non-elite 'replaceable' players. The possibility of serious injury or serious health problems in a few years takes a backseat to the risk of being cut today and taking an >80% pay cut.

IMO, the only way to even start dealing with the problem rationally is to create substantial penalties for coaches who know or should know about a player's injury status and knowingly put their long-term health at risk. Doubly so for medical staff-- I'm talking multi-game unpaid suspensions and fines for coaches, and penalties up to expulsion from the NFL for medical staff who hide information from players, coaches, or the league.

by noahpoah :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 9:11pm

Loss of livelihood and >80% pay are not the same thing. Yes, the possibility of losing a substantial portion of your income puts pressure on you to hide injuries, but this ends up being part of the equation weighing the risk of long term health problems due to keeping a concussion secret and the risk of more immediate, possibly very large, loss of income.

Penalties for coaches and medical staff who know about an injury and put players in sounds better at first glance, but I think it has the same basic problem as penalties for players. There will still be plenty of incentive for players to hide their injuries, I would think. To the extent that a player is important to a team's success, the coach will be inclined to stay ignorant so that they can keep the player in.

As for punishing coaches for something they should know, that sounds like a very bad plan. Who decides when a coach should have known about an injury, and what would the criteria be?

I completely agree that witholding information from players should be punished severely, since players must be informed if they are to make informed decisions about whether to play with injuries or not.

by Sifter :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 8:15pm

Plus a mandatory sitout rule would encourage kamikaze stunts. You could sign a guy off the practice squad every week and his ONLY job might be to deliver a helmet to helmet hit on Purple Jesus or Steve Smith or Brian Westbrook etc etc., hope they get a concussion so they have to sit out the rest of the game. Then the week after the team helps out the young player paying the fine (on the quiet of course), and hopefully they get a win out of it.

I don't think we need that.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 9:52pm

I doubt we'll need to worry about that.

However, penalties for hiding concussions would be impossible to enforce because it is not necessarily simple to prove that a player suffered a concussion.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

by Eddo :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 11:30pm

I don't think forcing players to miss games is the right idea, necessarily; as Aaron and Bill point out, there are different degrees of concussions and some players may recover faster.

As for extensive penalties for players and coaches who withhold information, isn't that the current system? Teams do have to disclose injuries, and there are penalties for hiding information; harsher penalties may encourage turning a blind eye, as a previous poster suggested.

I think the only way to fix the problem is to have league-appointed medical personnel who investigate any head injuries that occur. Now, some injuries will obviously go unnoticed, but if you have one trained doctor watching each game, most concussions should be caught. After all, how often do we see Will point out that a player's arms locked when he was hit, indicating a concussion. If a trained professional is watching every hit, it might be a big help.

by hector :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 12:17am

It's a good listen, as usual. A favorite moment to me (60 minute mark): Aaron and Bill are discussing some internet baseball Hall of Fame thing and they agree that it's probably a pretty dorky experience when it convenes to vote. Immediately after making that point, Aaron lets out the *dorkiest* laugh I think I've ever heard in my life. Good times.

by Stevie :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 11:09pm

Ya Aaron sounds like he should be podcasting about Dungeons and Dragons or Pokemon cards hehehe

by Love is like a bottle of gin (not verified) :: Wed, 01/07/2009 - 2:04pm

One thing I would say about concussions and their severity is that a friend suffered a moderate but not severe concussion playing hockey in high school, and his doctor strongly recommended he never play a contact sport again. Granted the situation is different when your livelihood is football, but it is a very very serious injury that can easily recur.

Another hockey friend in college started having feinting spells in college after a bad concussion and once spent a couple hours in a snow bank on his way back to his apartment (he passed out and just laid there until someone found him). Granted his concussion was extremely severe. He too never played contact sports again.