The League

Anthony Stalter
National Blogger

Anthony Stalter

Senior Sports Editor for The Scores Report

Take it slow, Brian

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I'm not a player in the National Football League and better yet, I'm not a doctor. That's why I should have zero input on whether or not Brian Westbrook should continue his playing career after suffering two concussions this season.

But if anyone is looking for my opinion on the subject, here it is: Take it slow, Brian.

After suffering his second concussion in mid-November, Westbrook sought the advice of two neurological specialists, each of whom said the running back should make a full recovery. But "should" and "will" are two different things.

The fact of the matter is that nobody knows (not even doctors) how Westbrook's noggin will respond to the stress of football once he gets back onto the field again. After his first exercise session post-concussion, he reportedly had a minor headache. Since then, he's been able to slowly amp up the workouts and thus far, he's on track to return to game action at some point this season.

The problem is that when we get older, injuries that we suffered earlier our lives tend to come roaring back. I don't need to be a doctor to know that I don't feel the same now at 27 as I did when I was 17. And my football career ended in high school, so I can only imagine the pounding that professional players take on a yearly basis.

While it's good that Westbrook hasn't experienced many post-concussions symptoms now, it doesn't mean he won't suffer from problems down the road. And before anyone says that Westbrook isn't pondering that dilemma - think again.

In an interview with HBO's Joe Buck, Westbrook said that he was scared about his future. He expressed concern about how he was going to be when he's 50 or 60 and whether or not he'll have problems with his memory. While we all like to think of football players as warriors, it's understandable that Westbrook would be scared about the future ramifications of these injuries.

The good news is that Westbrook and the Eagles have done an excellent job not rushing him back to the field. In fact, the way the team has handled the situation should be written out and laminated for all pro and college teams so that they know how to properly handle concussions. It doesn't matter that they're in the middle of a playoff race: Westbrook will only see the field when he's 100% recovered and that's how it should be. He's taking baby steps with the amount of workload he's taking on and the team equipped him with a new helmet that uses the same shock-absorbing technology that protects Army paratroopers and Navy SEALs. (The NFL should look into fitting all of their players with this technology.)

Should Westbrook continue playing? I don't know - that's for him and the doctors to decide. But what I do know is that there's no rush, even though he has hit the dreaded age for running backs -- 30. His health should come first because that is going to last longer than his football career. Save for Brett Favre, these guys can't play forever.

Personally, I hope he makes a full recovery and plays well into his 30s. He's a great back that no doubt loves playing football. Everyone should have the opportunity to do what he or she loves to do day in and day out.

I just hope for his sake, his future doesn't pay for his present.

By Anthony Stalter  |  December 16, 2009; 1:42 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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