Sep 152010
winston justice

Eagles RT Winston Justice

September 15 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Winston Justice:

“THERE IS a quiet secret that doesn’t get talked about much in the locker room – concussions.

In all the years I’ve played this game, I’ve never acknowledged having them. Very few of my teammates have ever even actually uttered the word concussion. I can recall many times when I haven’t remembered the last play or even the last series.

And I’m not the only one. This happens to players on every team, every week throughout the NFL season. Now, of course, it is hard to deny a situation like Stewart Bradley’s from Sunday, when he attempted to get up and, instead, stumbled across the field. But often it’s not that obvious. You lie on the ground for an extra 10 seconds, face to the sky, wondering how you got there or what just happened. It’s a bad feeling, but in that moment, the alternative seems worse.

It’s just imbedded in us – as men and football players – to play through pain. We are taught that tough guys win in football. But now the rules have changed, with the NFL implementing new policies and procedures on how teams must handle concussions.

If you tell someone you blacked out, you have to come out of the game. Players are competitors. We all know guys are waiting in the wings to unseat us, so to come out of a game is very hard. Most guys would just choose to play through it, thinking it can’t be that bad.

Honestly, you can participate in camp for 3 months, but nothing can prepare you for full game speed. Although we have practiced all we can, for most, it takes a few regular-season games to get their feet under them. You cannot really simulate the intensity of a game in practice. The speed, the plays – it all just all seem to come faster on Sundays.

I don’t think I have ever been in a game with so many injuries as we were Sunday against the Packers. At one point, we were down to the last five offensive linemen in uniform. If someone else were to go down, I think we would have had to put defensive tackle Mike Patterson in at guard. Although it is comical to think of Mike playing on the offensive side of the ball, we would have had no other feasible alternative.”

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