Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Put me in coach, I am ready to play, I will just aim at the middle one

If a drunk stumbles into a bar and is served several more shots, the establishment can be held accountable for any actions the drunk does.

So if an injured athlete makes the decision to play hurt, can the team and coach be held responsible?

Sounds like a silly notion right?

If the Colts’ Marvin Harrison wants to play with a cast and not let the doctors look at it because he is going to play anyway, then he is a hero right?

Teddy Bruschi of the Patriots had “minor” stroke but eight months later he is playing football. The doctors fixed the problem and football is his job. So he is back with his teammates.

But then there is the injury that can’t be seen. Wayne Cherbet of the Jets suffered a concussion on Sunday. He has had at least nine. I always chuckle at “at least” because I use it all the time myself. I have had “at least” seven and I have the scan of a dead spot to prove it. At certain point, I don’t even bother going to the doctor. I can’t afford (and my insurance doesn’t cover) the best medical care so it is ice packs, pills and the occasional barf bag for me. Sometimes it is hard to determine what is just a headache and what is a concussion? When the room still spins three days later or you get nauseous driving on a bumpy road, maybe it was something than a bump.

Speculation says this concussion may end Cherbet’s career. His coach says that is up to Cherbet.

“It's something Wayne's going to have to determine with the doctors,” Herm Edwards said. “He's going to have to make a decision on what he wants to do. It's always the player's decision at the end of the day. The medical people can advise people. Wayne's at the point of his career where he's going to take a long hard look at what he wants to do.”

Every athlete wants to be there for his teammates. Especially those with concussions, they look healthy so they should be out there paying the price for victory like their brothers in arms. If you can walk then you can play, right?

Sometimes someone else has to step in and say “No.”

I played rec league and open gym basketball after concussions. Many will tell you, after every concussion I received on the basketball court, I always shot lights out. I still went back and played well after I knew I was playing with fate. And I don’t even get paid a million dollars. I understand why Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Chris Chandler and Cherbet come back.

But take even another step. A high school kid. How many concussions are suffered on soccer and football fields every week? I question no kid who wants to be right back out there. I understand. I know there are different types of concussions. I also know about avoiding doctors so they can’t tell you bad news.

I can’t imagine Cherbet’s head. I know what is like to live in mine. Staring at screens, trying to recall what I was doing. Trying to guess your password or ATM code. Holding a phone in my hand, trying to remember who I just called as the phone rings. I know there is more than one school secretary out there who has been on the end of one those calls, where I forgot who I called and hung up. Learning to write everything down like you are in the movie — you know the one with that guy — I am always forgetting names.

It is not sleeping soundly for weeks at a time. It is learning to live with headaches, because the pills tore up your stomach. It is looking like everything is fine and not being able to explain that you are not. You don’t wear cast on your gray matter. Months later, symptom free sometimes there is a bad day.

If I am Wayne Cherbet or a high school kid, I am suiting up for my teammates. I understand Herm Edwards is played a lot of money to win football games, so he wants Cherbet if it can help him get a win. I know I would trade some brain functions for a title, hell, I traded some for a pick-up game.

If someone as a concussion, especially if it is high school kid, it is up to someone else to make sure that person is healthy. Here is hoping if it is your kid, someone does.