Well before the NFL Draft and even before the Combine, team doctors, athletic trainers and scouts will sit down and go through medical files of the potential draftees. Most players will make their medical files available to teams. The process is so thorough that things have gone from trying to hide injuries to open, proactive disclosure. "We're going to find it," said Dr. Neal ElAttrache, one of the top sports medicine surgeons and former team doctor for the Los Angeles Rams, "so most people get it out in the open."
The casualties keep mounting. Brian Wilson: done and headed for his second Tommy John surgery. Joakim Soria: done after his second Tommy John surgery. Ryan Madson: done after his first Tommy John surgery. The list of closers on the disabled list also includes Andrew Bailey, Kyle Farnsworth and Drew Storen.
On Jan. 29, CNN will debut Big Hits, Broken Dreams, a documentary exploring concussions in high school football. SI.com's Ben Glicksman talked with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent and practicing neurosurgeon, about his findings and what parents, coaches and athletes need to know to try to protect themselves.
Let's not cast blame on the NHL for one lone moron's actions, but Thursday night's incident in London, Ontario -- where a fan threw a banana peel at Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds, who is black -- is just the kind of publicity that hockey doesn't need. The league, to its credit, has worked tirelessly in recent years to open up the sport to minorities through its "Hockey is for Everyone" initiatives.
There's nothing worse for any team, real or fantasy, than seeing a player come off the DL only to head right back on it. A recent injury made my researcher, Dan Wade, dig through the database to see if any teams had a worse time of it than others:
I spent Saturday at a fantasy auction, getting a feel for where people were valuing players this season. My friend Dustin Fink, the brains behind The Concussion Blog, and his friends in the "League of Champions," offered great insight since they were a long term league doing their first auction. We went through a full 12-team, 14-deep auction in just over three hours, and while they were putting together their teams, I learned just how highly running backs were valued.
Seventy-five former professional football players are suing the National Football League, saying the league knew as early as the 1920s of the harmful effects of concussions on players' brains but concealed the information from players, coaches, trainers and others until June 2010.
To borrow a phrase from the suddenly talkative Mets owner Fred Wilpon, plenty of teams seem "snakebitten'' this year. There have been so many injuries this year, particularly to star players (Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, David Wright), that the Snakebitten Six teams, listed below, have to feel something's just not right.
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- By all indications, Justin Morneau's batting practice session is a typical spring scene: Morneau is taking cuts and the sound of ball meeting bat slices through the morning silence at Hammond Stadium, the Minnesota Twins' spring training home.
Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner knows how it feels when a 250-pound defender is charging after him on the playing field. He knows the frenzied scramble, the attempt to evade a defender. Warner also knows, when none of that works, how it feels to have 250 pounds of flesh crushing him.
When Taylor Twellman won Major League Soccer's MVP award in 2005, he threw his head at balls in the penalty box with the force of a bird smacking into a window. That's how the U.S. and New England Revolution forward scored 101 goals in eight MLS seasons -- and how his playing career took an irretrievable turn on Aug. 30, 2008.
Concussions are all over the news right now, and rightly so. The problem is most people discussing this have no background in the actual facts. I'm not a doctor, but I know how to get hold of the best in the business. With concussions, that's Dr. Robert Watkins, Jr., orthopedic surgeon and co-director of Marina Spine Center at Marina Del Rey (Calif.) Hospital. I asked Dr. Watkins what happens to the brain when there is a helmet-to-helmet hit. Is being hit by a helmet any worse that a shoulder or knee?
Judging from my emails and tweets, injuries are as big a factor as ever when it comes to winning and losing in the NFL. Whether you care if "your team" is notching a win or if you're counting points in your fantasy league, talent wins, but keeping that talent available is as big a part as assembling it. Fantasy players often don't feel like they can manage that risk, but while they don't have doctors and trainers advising them, you can make adjustments. I'm here to help with that.
Back in the dark ages of injury updates -- you know, 2008, when I first started doing them here at SI -- it was much harder to get the speed of updates that fantasy players wanted. I'd get the info from one of my sources, write it up, send it in to the editors, and it'd make it up pretty quick. Today, the world moves at Twitter speed, where quick updates happen in milliseconds. It creates a problem as much as it creates an opportunity, with misinformation and worse, misinterpretation, happening at the same speed.
"Decimated." That word actually has a specific meaning, focused on an ancient Roman punishment. Some teams feel like they've been decimated and, in the modern sense, some have. There are a lot of injuries coming with "season-ending" tags on them, but remember that "season-altering" is just as bad from a fantasy context. While losing a top pick like a Ryan Grant is bad, it could have been any of the players in the top tier. You have to remember each player is one play, one moment away from ending things. After Tom Brady's near-miss accident -- in which the person in the other car is still in serious condition -- last week, we should all realize just how close we all are. Injuries are going to happen. You just have to be prepared, draft (and now find) depth, and focus on putting up points on a consistent basis. Given how many significant injuries we've had in Week 1, I wonder if the NFL and NFLPA will take a closer look at what an 18-game schedule might do to the health of players and
In recent months, NFL running backs Brian Westbrook and Jamal Lewis were cut in the aftermath of concussion-laden seasons. To be sure, their age, salary and decline in play were factors. But regardless, after a year in which the relationship between concussions and player health drew the keen interest of Congress and other lawmakers, it seems improper for NFL teams to cut players who may still suffer from postconcussion symptoms.
Hines Ward's recent comments about teammate Ben Roethlisberger shed some light on the attitude most NFL players have regarding injuries, team doctors and concussions. My guess is that attitude would confuse and surprise most fans that don't really understand the business of the NFL and the internal and external pressure to play. Allow me to explain the prevailing thought process among most NFL players when it comes to some of the issues that Ward raised.
It's only been three years since Florida quarterback Chris Leak stood at a lectern and claimed a vicious hit from Georgia defensive tackle Jeff Owens hadn't resulted in a concussion. "I just got dinged," Leak said. "No more than that."