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In Wilbon's World

Concussions, Commentary

-- It's a damn good thing the Florida Gators have a bye-week this Saturday because it'll relieve Coach Urban Meyer of the pressure he'd otherwise have of deciding what to do with his star All-American QB Tim Tebow. Concussions are serious, even more so at the college level where players aren't paid. But football isn't ballet. Tebow wants to play. Meyer, not surprisingly, says Tebow was still experiencing headaches but looked "terrific." I'm not about to suggest that the University of Florida doctors and trainers would take any liberties with Tebow. But I've always thought that players, or their parents, should have access to independent doctors, at the school's expense.

In a case like this, wouldn't Tebow be better off if he wanted an opinion from a physician not compromised by whether or not he should play at LSU? And suppose the two doctors disagree, which is often the case with concussions. Then Tebow would have multiple opinions to consult. And it wouldn't be a bad thing if Tebow wound up with Troy Aikman's phone number. The best information for Tebow might come from a Hall of Famer whose career ended early because of concussions.

This comes at the same time a study commissioned by the NFL reports that Alzheimer's disease or similar memory-related diseases appear to have been diagnosed in the league's former players so much more often than in the population at large. The rate is 19 times the normal rate for men 30-49. The University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research report was issued to the league's officials this month. An Arizona Cardinals player, Sean Morey, has been supportive of research in this area and was quoted as saying, "This is about more than us; it's about the high school kid in 2011 who might not die on the field because he ignored the risks of concussions." The topic of whether Tebow should or shouldn't play is still the No. 1 topic of conversation in Florida and throughout the SEC.

-- You won't see much in the way of television-sports commentary in this space for the simple reason it's a blatant conflict of interest since I work for ESPN. But ... it's been so enjoyable to watch NBC's new Odd Couple, Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison, I can't let it pass without complimenting both men on making their new careers. Each is perfectly in character. Harrison was a hard-hitting safety and his observations are hard-hitting as well; yet Harrison knows the difference between criticism and ridicule. When Terrell Owens went into one of his typically moronic post-game whines Sunday, Harrison wasted no words and said of T.O. "He's a clown ... a straight clown." Perfect. Every week it seems another player is angry at Harrison who apparently could care less. Does it help that Harrison, the only player in NFL history with 30 sacks and 30 interceptions, is probably going to the Hall of Fame? Yeah, sure. It also helps that Harrison is totally unafraid to have the same discussion on live television that he would off-the-record in the locker room after the game. He and Tony Dungy could talk about weak-side help and two-deep zones, but they don't. Their comments seem tailored for viewers, not coaches and players.

Dungy wastes no time yukking it up. He said before NBC's Bears-Packers game that he wondered about Jay Cutler's ability to lead a team and whether he was up to the pressure of the expectations which accompanied his trade to the Bears, and turned out Cutler wasn't ... not that night anyway. Though they couldn't be more different, Dungy, like Harrison, cuts right to the point, has no problem second-guessing coaches or criticizing players but doesn't cross the line into ridicule. Dungy brings the same dignity to the studio he brought to the sideline all those years in Tampa and Indy. He's clear, concise, insightful and shows you can be tough without being Simon Cowell. Harrison's candor and Dungy's dignity are both refreshing and make for new must-see football TV ...

-- Speaking of T.O., he's already spewing his poison in Buffalo. Didn't take long. He says the media ran him out of Philly and Dallas, and blamed the media even though he acted in his usual immature moronic fashion after Sunday's loss to the Saints when he didn't catch a single pass. ... You wonder if teams still think, after evidence to the contrary in San Francisco, Philly and Dallas before Buffalo, that T.O. is incapable of conducting himself like a professional after the very first moment something doesn't meet his liking. I'd love to hear the conversation in the foursome one day between Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb, Tony Romo and Trent Edwards, all capable QBs and then some, all terrific teammates, all undermined by the delusional T.O.


Michael Wilbon

 |  October 1, 2009; 10:06 AM ET  |  Category:  College Football , NFL , Terrell Owens Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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