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SteelDad
11-17-2010, 10:46 AM
Over the last decade, the face of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been Hines Ward. A man who obviously faced much adversity as a child who was born to a Korean mother and an African-American father. As Hines has detailed on several occasions, Korean society does not look fondly upon those of mixed races and because of this, he has spent many hours and a lot money for programs to help children who are similar to him. Ward can be a very polarizing figure who is not afraid to call out his teammates or cry on national TV following a playoff loss, but there is one thing about Ward that is very hard to not respect and find refreshing about him and that is his brutal honesty and willingness to speak his mind.

So here we find ourselves still numb from a humiliating loss to the Patriots who are pretty much now the bane of our existence, but we are also troubled that our icon in Ward had to sit most of the game with what team doctors called a concussion. Ward states today in USA Today that he could have played and that the decision to go back in the game should be his and his alone. It’s his brain and his body and he knows if he can go back in or not. Many people will see this as Hines being Hines and again being the ‘difficult’ person he can sometimes be but doesn’t this issue raise some very pointed questions about the National Football League? Ward claims that had he not stumbled coming off the field, he probably would have been allowed back in. No way of knowing, but in the wake of the Eagles’ Stewart Bradley looking punch-drunk several times back in Week 2 he could be right. What Hines raises is a fair question regarding just who should make the call on whether a player can return to a game. He claims as many players do, that he was fine within a few minutes and could have easily re-entered the game. Like so many boxers who return to the ring well after their prime, Ward is built in this same mode. Imagine the gut-wrenching feelings he must have had standing there for 3 plus quarters being and feeling helpless to his team’s cause. So often we use terms in the game of football that are inspired by war and Ward is no different. He is a warrior who was removed from battle whether it was warranted or not. But look deeper here folks and what you’ll find is the complete and utter hypocrisy of Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL.

There is no secret that the owners and league offices are pushing hard for an 18-game schedule to which the players are open to if the owners are willing to shorten the pre-season, shorten off-season time, add a second bye-week, add to the roster and pro-rate current salaries. You know and I know the 18-game schedule is coming, but just how much will the owners give? Not much in my opinion. I would bet my life you’ll still see at least 3 pre-season games and the off-season training will remain virtually untouched. Yet while all of this is coming, the league continues to ‘get tough’ on violent hits and even tougher on the issue of head injuries. So riddle me this Goodell…. You’re going to expect the same if not more from players, but at the same time want to keep the game as safe as possible even though you and the owners will be resistant to increased rosters. What exactly is the message you are sending to the players? People will crush Hines Ward this week for speaking out against the concussion policy telling him the league is protecting his future and his health for his days after his career is over. I’m pretty confident Hines knows that, but isn’t it his body and his decision? I’m an educator. My school tells me that if I get sick, to stay home, but only I know just how much I can tolerate and handle if I’m not feeling well. That’s fair, but then why do so many businesses then complain if I miss too much time? This is what the league is doing by keeping these guys out. “Oh yeah, we’ll keep them safe and healthy, but we do need them back for those big prime-time games.” Don’t think it doesn’t happen, because it does.

Hines will no doubt hear some criticism this week, but he won’t care and neither will I. Until the league comes clean and ends the hypocrisy, these issues will continue to exist as will Hines Ward’s penchant for speaking his mind.

Marc Uhlmann
www.steeleraddicts.com

Steelersfan
11-17-2010, 11:29 AM
Nice read. Problem is you can't trust someone who has just had a head injury. They may feel fine and all but the damage is there none the less. The Steelers (as well as the other teams) have people who (I hope!) are trained to recognize the signs and make an educated decision.

Don't get me wrong. I love Hines and the way he plays and the way he speaks his mind. This is one place where he is wrong though. I'd rather make sure he is good to go for the rest of the season than to worry about this one game, one that unless he was playing DB he wouldn't of helped much......lol

BlitzburghRockCity
11-17-2010, 11:55 AM
Everyone of us has the utmost respect for Ward. He is the ultimate player, the ultimate competitor, the ultimate epitomy of what you want a teammate to be. He's passionate, loyal, dedicated, and never wants to be on the sidelines if he can be helping his team.

The reason the team officially called it a neck injury that night was so that he could potentially get back in the game later on. You can't go back in at all if you have a concussion, no matter how good you feel or think you feel.

He has a point, it should be his call to do what he wants. At the same time the doctors don't know if he is really ok, or just wants to get back in and help his team. Players lie to trainers and coaches all the time about injuries so they can get out and play. It's a catch22, and I'm not sure there is a right answer honestly.

LarryNJ
11-17-2010, 12:09 PM
It's a very difficult decision that needs to be made by someone who has a clear mind. Not the player who just got racked, not the coach who's embarassed because his team is getting their asses whooped, it should be the Doctors decision. They may not always make the right choice but they will make the best choice from the information they have at the time.

SteelDad
11-17-2010, 01:06 PM
Each of you make excellent points which are difficult to argue with, but I think what I was going for and maybe missed the bulls-eye a little is the fact that it is such a gray area that the answer may always fall to the safe side. I'm not sure this is always the right call though. BRC brings up the point about the training staff calling it a 'neck injury.' Collinsworth and Michaels were literally laughing at that because they both knew it was a concussion. Why would the trainers say neck injury if THEY know Hines is not going to be allowed back on the field? I think they really did Hines wrong by not being honest with. They made him think there may be a shot at returning when there wasn't.

Look, I'm not a barbarian and I understand safety is a huge issue, but at what point does this sissification of this game stop? Has Sanders even been fined for this? If that isn't a clear definition of helmet-to-helmet then I don't know what is.

Steelersfan
11-17-2010, 01:14 PM
I understand your "sissification" point, but what does that have to do with Ward being hurt?

Edit* I would hope the trainers fall on the safe side with players. Teams have invested millions in them and want them on the field. Just as us fans do.

SteelDad
11-17-2010, 03:25 PM
I understand your "sissification" point, but what does that have to do with Ward being hurt?

Edit* I would hope the trainers fall on the safe side with players. Teams have invested millions in them and want them on the field. Just as us fans do.

My concern Steelersfan is where does it stop? Again, I am not advocating that players with possible concussions be sent back into games, I'm trying to make 2 points that display my concern for this sport are headed....

1. Why would the training staff say 'neck injury' when they know it's a head injury? One article claimed it was because they wanted to keep the door open to let him re-enter the game. This makes no sense because immediately after the game Tomlin called it a 'head injury' and then on Monday it was a concussion. What possible good was it doing Hines Ward to be told one thing when it was clearly another? There was no plausible way HW could re-enter that game and everyone knew it but him. So why be untruthful about it?

2. Will all of this caution result in diagnosing other potential injuries that may or may not ever happen upon re-entry to a game?

Trainer: "Looks like he has back spasms Coach."
Coach: "Can he play?"
Trainer: "Nope. Could lead to paralysis...."

Trainer: "Looks like a high-ankle sprain."
Coach: "Can he play?"
Trainer: "Nope. Could mean he'll damage it further and lose the use of his foot."

The League and owners want these guys on the field at all times because they pay them so much money, but just as you said, there's a lot of pressure to protect their investments and keep them off the field when possibly concussed or hurt. They can't have it both ways. At least not in my opnion.