The League

Sean McCann
Beat Writer

Sean McCann

Former Philadelphia Eagles beat writer for Gannett

He will play

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The decision has already been made, and anyone who expects the Eagles to wilt under the heat of public outcry has not been paying attention. Whether or not Brian Westbrook should continue playing, if doctors clear him to play, he will return to the field this season.

The time to declare Westbrook's 2009 season over was the first few days after his second confirmed concussion. When that didn't happen, the team's cards were on the table. Unless the running back's symptoms had persisted, the Eagles weren't going to end his season early. They haven't and he'll be back carrying the football, if not this week against the visiting 49ers then perhaps next week against the Broncos.

Incidentally, here's a nightmare scenario: Week 16 at Lincoln Financial Field, Denver safety Brian Dawkins returns Philadelphia and the fans who love him, then ends Westbrook's career with one of the devastating hits he's become beloved for. Even the idea is a little frightening.

Anyway, to some extent, Westbrook has earned the right to say when. He's a contemplative guy who has taken close care of his career and who can be trusted to take care of his life during and after football. He's never been one to insist on playing through injury, and the Eagles have never been a team to ask a player to put himself at risk. If anything, they've strayed in the other direction, falling too deeply in love with their endless contingency plans.

Given the undeniable decline in Westbrook's abilities -- concussions notwithstanding -- he won't be anyone's feature back for long, but he can contribute to one final playoff run in Philly. If every test shows he's putting himself at no greater risk, he ought to be allowed to write his own ending.

By Sean McCann  |  December 16, 2009; 1:04 PM ET  | Category:  Concussions , Philadelphia Eagles Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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