By Abby Sims
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Michael Vick has said he’ll be on the field for Sunday’s contest at home against the 49ers, despite having suffered a significant contusion to his right (non-throwing) hand in last week’s loss to the Giants.
Reports say his hand remains swollen, sore to the touch and in a protective cast. That means its function is also impaired because of pain with use. Though he backed down from his initial take on typically not getting calls from the officials, Vick smartly has not, at least publicly, ever indicted his offensive line.
However, with that line being what it is, and with Vick a moving target (who is more difficult to protect), should he play?
Remember, as it was, in the Eagles-Giants game, Vick was playing only one week after leaving the field in the third quarter of his homecoming versus Atlanta having been dealt a mild concussion. Vick is certainly a warrior. He is one of those guys who wants to be out there, but at what cost?
Dallas’ Tony Romo is another one of those guys — a selfless leader. He completed the game in week two against the 49ers, returning in the third quarter having knowingly suffered a rib fracture in the first half. Romo painfully, but heroically, went on to make a 77-yard pass to set up a win in OT. It was only later that he was also diagnosed with a small lung puncture along with the isolated rib fracture.
Romo also played last Monday night in a boring squeaker against the Redskins. His performance was clearly hampered by his injury and the offense sputtered. It would be surprising if Romo did not taken pain meds or have an injection to combat the pain associated with his issues. His breathing was likely still painful and throwing, especially for distance, had to have heightened his symptoms.
Should he have played?
Jay Cutler went to fan and media purgatory after taking himself out of the NFC title game with a knee injury last January. Cutler even came under fire from some fellow players. Turned out, to everyone but Cutler’s surprise, that the injury was real and it was significant. He’d suffered a Grade 2 MCL (medial collateral ligament) sprain/tear.
Though he’d been known more as the warrior type prior to this incident, that didn’t shield Cutler from the abuse. I wrote about it then, but Vick and Romo bring the dilemma of the injured player back to the headlines.
I’m not of the mind that players should simply tough it out when doing so is likely to contribute to an exacerbation of their injuries. Not allowing for a proper healing response delays recovery, often causing an injury to become an even bigger issue both on and off the field. Such situations can also result in chronic conditions. Not only can this potentially impact performance, it can, and often does, impact life. Just look at the struggles of many NFL veterans.
Football being football, there is the unwritten rule to target an opposing team’s weaknesses. We all know that doesn’t just mean a hole in the defense or a size mismatch on coverage. Football puts a target on each players back under the best of circumstances. The already vulnerable become even more so.
The Cowboys were fortunate to come away from the Redskins game with a win. They didn’t win because of Romo, and, if you ask me, Romo didn’t win at all. He lost a week to help him recover.
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