Sailing the Seas of Cheese: No This Isn’t Flag Football
“Nick Collins has normal feeling and complete movement in his extremities. As is standard protocol, he will be kept in the hospital overnight for observation. When he returns to Green Bay, he will undergo further testing and evaluation.”Green Bay Packers, September 18, 2011
This photo by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Mark Hoffman tells me a lot of things. While nobody wants to see their All-Pro Safety strapped to a backboard and hauled off to the nearest trauma facility,to me the photo is rather reassuring. By now everybody has either seen or at least heard about what happened to him yesterday. I think we all collectively let out a sigh of relief when Collins waved to the crowd to not only let everyone know he was okay but that we wasn’t paralyzed. The photo tells me he is not only conscious, but focused enough to have his eyes open and is able to breathe on his own. Definitely encouraging signs that Fox Sports could not convey.
His injury reminded me a lot of Don Beebe’s back in 1997 who left the field under very similar circumstances. I was at that game at the god-awful Silverdome, back when my husband and I lived in Michigan (for the record, the Pack lost that day much to the glee of the drunken Lions fans that thought I didn’t know how to read a scoreboard.) When Beebe went down, that loud and obnoxious stadium became so quiet you could probably hear a pin drop.
It’s never a good thing when a player crumples to the ground and doesn’t move for several minutes. But what happened in the several silent minutes afterward shows me that the NFL is getting it right when it comes to head and neck injuries. While I have no clue to the extent of Collins’ injuries, I can confidently say that it a very good thing that the NFL (and NCAA for that matter) has an inflexible protocol for these types of injuries. If there is any question of spinal injury or signficant head trauma, a player is treated no different than an individual with similar symptoms that has just survived an motor vehicle accident: assume the worst and hope for the best.
Nick Collins may have been knocked out. He may have had numbness and tingling–or worse yet, no sensation at all–in his hands or feet. While it is encouraging that he was with it enough to wave to the crowd, without further studies, there would be no idea to gauge the extent of his injuries, no way to tell if his neck was broken. Case in point would be a friend’s daughter who walked away from a roll-over car accident, had full use of her limbs yet on xray had a hangman’s fracture of the neck. Disrupt that fracture in any direction, and you’re looking at being a quad the rest of your life. When it comes to injuries of this nature, no one will ever be faulted for opting on the side of caution. Afterall, who wants to be on the losing end of that bet?
Speaking injuries that could paralyze? It’s why Sterling Sharpe was never crowned the Next Jerry Rice. And it very well may be why Nick Collin’s 2011 season has come to an abrupt end. The Packer organization hasn’t given out much information other than the IR bug has bitten once again and they will be digging deep for another safety while Collins undergoes further evaluation and treatment in New York. I can’t verify the nature of his injury, but I doubt there is a fracture ending his season. Had that been the case he would have already had a visit to an operating room in Charlotte. But that’s not to say he very well may be looking at surgery on par with Peyton Manning’s disc repair and fusion.*
This isn’t the outcome any of us had hoped for. We hoped he’d bounce back and be out a week tops. But this is exactly why these precautions are in place. The system didn’t fail Nick Collins. What may have been written off as a simple neck stinger in the past was taken seriously the moment he crumpled to the turf. So enough already with that bloated sense of self-entitlement from the malcontents. The rules–all the rules including restricting helmet-to-helmet blows–are there not to protect your sense of enjoyment at the often pugilistic side of football. The are there to protect the lives and long-term health of the players. It doesn’t make the NFL a weakend or emasculated league for doubling down on head and neck injuries. The rules for treating injuries and preventing injuries (Yes, Dunta Robinson, I think you got off light with a $40,000 fine and no bench time) will not diminish anyone’s spectator experience. It will always be hard-hitting smashmouth game. Period, end of discussion. Now if only the NFL would walk it’s talk and stop issuing pocket change fines to repeat offenders, but that is a different rant for a different day.
The jury is still out whether this is a season-ending or a career-ending neck injury for Nick Collins. But one thing is certain: that cute little girl and her little brothers that were making confetti angels at the Super Bowl will be able to get a hug from her daddy tonight. And in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that a far better accomplishment than a second Super Bowl ring? (But don’t worry, Nick, your teammates are going to try their damnedest to make sure you get a second one come February!)
Hang in there, Nick, and get better soon. Until then, we will keep your seat warm and eagerly await your return.
*standard warnings apply: the postings here are from my little brain, not that of my unnamed employer. Any opinions, thinky-thoughts or rants are purely mine. Caveat Emptor.