Former All-Pro running back Priest Holmes isn't one of the more than 2,000 ex-NFL players involved in lawsuits against the NFL for various concussion protocol and effects, but he's got some interesting things to say about what concussions do to a player on the field. When he recently spoke to FoxSports.com, Holmes recalled that violent head hits can do a lot more than just give one a case of the "buzzies." In some instances, the concussed can feel very much like he's on another planet. The sky itself can change to colors the sky shouldn't be at a particular time.
"This color obviously isn't going to be blue. It can be a color that can be orange. It can be red. The sky could turn green," Holmes told Chris Corbellini. "There's even an episode where you see a clear light, like light at the end of the tunnel."
That wasn't the only effect of those hits. Holmes, who played for the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs from 1997 through 2005 (with a brief attempt at a comeback in 2007) and led the NFL in rushing with 1,555 yards in 2001, said that he feels many of the complaints shared by his former colleagues.
"As much as I loved it [football], that same love now has put me in situations that I have to live with," he said."The frontal headaches, the migraines. Laying in bed, it's tough to get out mornings just because of the pain that is setting in with an arthritic condition, it's things like that that you never would have really thought about."
There are those who would say that these players were supposed to have understood the risks inherent in what they did, but that's a large part of what the current class-action suits are all about. Many players claim that the league held concussion data away from the players to facilitate their increased performance on the field.
The NFL can and will deny that all it wants, but when you see Colt McCoy of the Cleveland Browns trotted back onto the field without a supposedly required SCAT concussion test after James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers clearly laid him out with a vicious (but unrealized) upper-body hit, it's hard to take the NFL seriously. That McCoy story isn't in the historical archives; it happened late last season.
Holmes' former Baltimore teammate Jamal Lewis is part of those concussion lawsuits, as is Tony Dorsett, one of Holmes' idols. No matter what happens in the courts, Holmes just wishes there was more awareness of the problem, as opposed to the NFL's claptrap about player safety.
"Take some time off. You need some rest," Holmes said he was told by specialists after a 2005 hit by then-San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman, advice that had him really worried. "Other than that, there was no treatment. There was nothing they could provide for me. Was it a lack of research? Or was it just a step that hasn't been developed by the league?
"That was just seven years ago, and the league has been around for a lot longer than those seven years."
More should have been done then, and more needs to be done now. That's as obvious (or, in some cases, even more obvious) than the color of the sky.
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