Kris Dielman has announced his retirement. Dielman is the Pro Bowl offensive guard for the San Diego Chargers who suffered an obvious in-game concussion last October. Obvious to the television audience, that is. He continued to play, then had a scary and violent seizure on the cross-country flight home.
Good luck to Dielman in his future endeavors.
Background from the Concussion Inc. archives:
Kris Dielman, an offensive guard for the San Diego Chargers, suffered a “violent” and “scary” grand mal seizure on the team plane returning from Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, in which Dielman had returned to play following an in-game concussion. Here’s the report by Kevin Acee and Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union Tribune: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/oct/27/dielman-out-vs-chiefs/.
Mike Florio of NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk comments (http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/10/27/report-kris-dielman-had-seizure-on-plane-after-concussion/):
Here’s hoping that the NFL decides in the wake of this incident to implement meaningful procedures aimed at spotting concussions and getting players who have suffered concussions out of games — and that every lower level of the sport eventually will follow suit. Anyone who has been paying any attention to high school football lately knows that the culture has not yet changed, and that as a result players are staying in games when they simply shouldn’t be.
It’s time for the NFL to provide real leadership on this issue, not lip service aimed at placating Congress and/or CYA memos intended to satisfy the lawyers.
Hope away. Dielman told the San Diego reporters, “I just banged my head a little bit. Now I gotta deal with it.”
The National Football League is “investigating” the incident involving Kris Dielman, the San Diego Chargers’ offensive guard. Super. In New Jersey last Sunday, Dielman played through a mid-game concussion that was obvious to the television audience but somehow missed by the team’s trainers and doctors. He then suffered a violent seizure flying back to San Diego on the team plane Sunday night.
But the NFL can’t investigate itself on the question of whether the NFL even gives a damn. For all its outrageousness, the fact that Dielman continued on the field is just another manifestation of the ultra-competitiveness of pro football. They can all say they’ll take measures to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, but inevitably it will.
That Dielman was on a cross-country flight hours later, however, is something else entirely. Even I know that you don’t get on an airplane in the immediate aftermath of a head injury, and I have none of the medical degrees amassed by such NFL experts as Ira “Dr. No” Casson and Joe “Sports Brain Guard” Maroon.
Does the NFL care even a little bit about the health of its players? Does anyone else care that the NFL doesn’t care?
Where are the new NFL “concussion policy co-chairs,” Drs. Richard Ellenbogen and Hunt Batjer, on all this? Are they bound and determined to end up with reputations as sterling as those of Casson and Maroon?
Mike Florio of NBC Sports’ Pro Football Watch is doing some good work on the story of Kris Dielman – the San Diego Charger who played through a blatantly obvious mid-game concussion, then had a seizure on the team plane, which required emergency measures.
But there’s a big BUT behind my praise of Florio’s reporting and analysis.
In “Dielman’s seizure could change the league’s concussion procedures,” http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/10/31/dielman-seizure-could-change-the-leagues-concussion-procedures/, Florio pounds the idea of using independent neurologists during National Football League games.
I’m not going to belabor the loopholes of that proposal, which Florio presents in good faith. I only want to point out that his closing sentence is flat wrong:
“If the league begins to use better tools for diagnosing concussions, all lower levels of the sport will follow suit.”
This is lethally naïve. Even assuming that it’s a real solution, your average high school football program cannot afford to have a neurologist on the sideline for the immediate aftermath of every scary collision at every game, every practice.
What the general public has yet to grasp is that the pro game is both better and worse on safety than the amateur game. Worse, of course — because it is competitive and dollar-driven to the exclusion of all else. But also better — because it has resources. At lower levels of football, the NFL can only be aped, less competently … by definition, less professionally … off the field as well as on it.
And that is why youth football is doomed. Having-it-both-ways good intentions will not save lives and protect public health.