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The Watering Hole: Players hiding concussions is a touchy subject

December 26, 2013

It was a simple route that 99 percent of receivers/tight ends would make.

On a 10-yard out pattern during the crucial stages of the Detroit Lions' overtime loss to the New York Giants, former Pitt standout Dorin Dickerson had the ball hit right off his hands, resulting in a costly drop.

If you ask him about it, chances are he'll say he would catch that ball 99 times out of 100.

But, he might also say he had no recollection of the drop.

After the loss, Dickerson admitted to reporters that he hid concussion symptoms from the team doctors so that he could keep playing in the game.

Dickerson even said that if you asked him later, he may not even remember the interview.

It sounds shocking, but really, it's not.

Earlier this week, San Diego Chargers' safety Eric Weddle said that "of
course it happens" when talking about players playing with a concussion.

As much as I'm for player safety, and as much as the NFL appears that it isn't, at times, can you really blame a football player for hiding his symptoms?

In no way whatsoever am I condoning the actions, but think about it for a second.

It's a multi-billion dollar industry, which doesn't offer guaranteed
contracts to its players.

For every Joe Flacco and his $120.6 million deal, there's a Dickerson.

Dickerson has been a journeyman in the NFL, bouncing around the numerous teams in his three-plus years in the league.

For Dickerson to stay in the league, he has to do whatever it takes.

He showed just that on Sunday.

Earlier this year, 2013 first round pick Jarvis Jones of the Steelers, admitted that he had a concussion, but there was talk that he was tempted to hide his symptoms from the team's
medical team.

Jones ended up admitting what he felt because despite being a rookie, he's as safe as anyone on the Steelers roster.

Put yourself in the shoes of Dickerson, or any other marginal NFL player, for that matter.

If you know you are the 53rd player on the roster, or somewhere in that vicinity, what would you do?

You're not guaranteed a roster spot like the first-round pick or the multi-million dollar quarterback.

Do you admit to the concussion and risk being cut, possibly for good, or do you hide the symptoms and keep playing?

It's not as easy as it seems, is it?

In 2009, the Steelers made headlines as Hines Ward said that the locker room was split evenly on whether or not Ben Roethlisberger should have played with a concussion during an interview with Bob Costas of NBC.

Roethlisberger practiced all week, and it wasn't until Saturday that he
felt the symptoms come on.

"I could see some players or teammates questioning, like 'it's just a concussion. I've played with a concussion before.' It's almost like a 50-50 toss up in the locker room. Should he play? Shouldn't he play? It's really hard to say," Ward said.

Ward went on to say that he lied to doctors before saying that he felt "straight" so that he could play.

It seems as if each week, there is news coming out about another athlete's brain showing signs of CTE.

Is it worth the short-term reward to suffer over the long term?

It depends on who you ask, and the situation they're in.

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