Austin Collie, Colts wide receiver and sufferer of multiple concussions, spoke to KHTK in Sacramento today about his multiple head injuries.
Host Grant Napear asked Collie if he was concerned about the concussions; a very reasonable question since Austin Collie suffered (at least) two of them (one, and two) last season. According to Austin Collie, Austin Collie can still suffer six or seven more and might still be as right as rain. The Q and A:
You're 25 years old. I mean don't the concussions scare you at this point in your career?
"Not really. If it was one of those things that I had a history of concussions and now I'm getting worse or more-and-more frequent then it would definitely be a worry of mine in the near future, but I've known players who play with 9 or 10 concussions and who have lived on to have successful careers and haven't had any symptoms later on in life, so again everyone is different. Everyone handles each injury different and hopefully down the road it'll be perfectly fine."
"Hey, maybe I'll be just fine if my head keeps getting beaten like a pinata" seems like an awfully cavalier attitude, but it also might be the only attitude that makes sense.
A guy can't go out onto an NFL field and play scared. Not only will it make him ineffective, but it's also likely to get him killed. When a fellow is given a clean bill of noggin health, going out and playing as if it never happened is probably the safest thing for him to (aside from retiring, of course, which I assume Austin Collie is not ready to do).
A player moves quickly, decisively and aggressively, lest some other angry gentleman scrambles his eggs for him. It always seems like trying to play in a way that won't get you hurt is a pretty good way to ensure that you will be hurt.
But that doesn't mean that Collie shouldn't be concerned, or that it's a good idea to get to nine or ten concussions and just see how things work out. Fine Colts blog Stampede Blue does a nice job of citing research at which Austin might want to have a peek. At this point, ignoring the damage done by concussions is kind of like saying, "You know, I really don't think cigarettes are bad for you."
Collie's comments raise some tough questions. When a guy does suffer multiple concussions in a season, what's the right response? Rejecting the science and assuming your safe is silly, but in practice, what's the difference between that and just going back out and doing your job? Either way, you're inarguably putting yourself in more danger, and either way, you won't know what amount of danger is too much before it's too late.
There is no safe, half-speed option. Whatever is the right balance of awareness, caution and safety, you just have to hope that Austin Collie finds it.