Newest bad idea by a Jets player: hiding concussion symptoms

Published On December 28, 2012 | By Arielle Aronson

For a few years now, the sports world has been ruled by concussion concerns. Multiple former players have seen their lives destroyed by the after-effects of numerous concussions, and leagues are scrambling to figure out a way to reduce brain trauma in their respective sports.

So it would seem that any player suffering from a concussion would be proactive about symptoms and alert the coaching staff. After all, post-concussion symptoms have been blamed for numerous suicides in pro sports players.

Apparently, Jets quarterback Greg McElroy is more concerned about his playing time than his future. The third-stringer-turned-starter reportedly told numerous teammates he believed he was suffering from concussion symptoms this week but refused to alert coaches or the medical staff of his condition until Thursday, when his symptoms persisted.

According to ESPN, McElroy confided in wide receiver Clyde Gates on Christmas Eve since Gates had suffered a concussion earlier this season and McElroy wanted to check his symptoms with Gates. Left guard Matt Slauson was also aware of McElroy’s condition.

“He definitely has that (warrior) mentality, but it got to the point where it was scaring him,” Slauson told ESPN.

It is certainly alarming that Slauson calls hiding a concussion a “warrior mentality”, but Slauson’s response to his own concussions may be even more alarming.

“I was in bad shape, but I could focus on my plays,” Slauson said of a concussion he once suffered while playing for the Jets. “I figured I’d pop a couple of Aspirin and be fine.”

Once McElroy finally told the Jets of his concussion symptoms on Thursday, head coach Rex Ryan immediately decided McElroy would not be starting in Sunday’s game in Buffalo. Instead, Ryan will start beleaguered QB Mark Sanchez, who has thrown more interceptions this season (17) than touchdowns (13).

Ryan also said he hopes McElroy’s situation will stand as an example to players of the need to be honest with medical staff when it comes to self-reporting concussions.

“I think, hopefully, this will be an example to all the players,” Ryan said in an ESPN article. “Because the worst thing that could’ve happened is he would’ve gone out there with nobody knowing how he really felt and hurt himself.”

But apparently, plenty of players did know how McElroy really felt, and none of them said anything either. To make matters worse, NFL players are role models for younger players aspiring to reach their level, and McElroy as well as his teammates just set a terrible precedent in regards to concussion treatment for their proteges.

It’s unclear what would be best here with regards to concussion prevention: better helmets, more encouragement for players to report their symptoms, or more incentives for players who see a teammate struggling to tell coaches or trainers about their teammate’s symptoms.

The only obvious point here is that NFL players are still failing to do their part to fully prevent themselves from suffering brain damage due to concussions.

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About The Author

Arielle Aronson is a sports writer and recent graduate from Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Print Journalism Magna Cum Laude. Arielle has a passion for sports cultivated from growing up with two older brothers. She also enjoys playing the piano, reading and traveling.