Eagles running back Brian Westbrook has been relatively silent since the season ended about his health, the status of Donovan McNabb and other issues.
Westbrook spoke extensively in an interview with his former teammate Blaine Bishop, now a radio talk show host on WGFX in Nashville, Tenn.
Westbrook said he was not "completely healed" after his first concussion suffered against Washington in a Monday night game despite passing all the tests and waiting 3 weeks to return. He suffered a second concussion against San Diego, keeping him out of the lineup and essentially ending his effectiveness for the season.
Westbrook went into great length to talk about what he learned about concussions this season:
"You don’t think about it unless you had one. Unless you get one so they just don’t understand that if you continue to play with a concussion you run the risk of all different brain diseases to an early-on type of Alzheimer’s to early type of dementia and to forgetting things. As we all get older we tend to forget some things sometimes anyway but it gets worse and so forth and quite possibly death on some situations. A lot of people just do not know it, a lot of young kids. I didn’t even know before I even had my concussions all the repercussions of getting concussions. As a player you are always taught get back in there and play. Get back in there and play but the truth is, once I found out that, if you get back in there and play with a concussion even though if you want to play and you are feeling fine that you run the risk of really hurting yourself.
"I had a concussion October 25th. I think it was a Monday night game and I got knocked out and I was laid on the field, asleep on the football field. At that point I woke up and it was very clear I knew what was going on. I knew my surroundings. I knew everything. I had a slight headache. The next couple of days I found out that I had a concussion, a worse concussion than I had previously had thought. At that point you are trying to find out when is the best time to get back into the game. You have to of course wait until you all of your symptoms are gone. All of your headaches are gone when you are resting. All of the headaches are gone when you are having activity. They call it, with exertion… Then you have to pass a test that is called an impact test, which you take on the computer. It tests your reaction time. It tests memories and things like that with shapes and words. Once you are able to pass all of those tests then you have the opportunity to go back out there and play.
"The truth is, I waited three weeks. I passed all of the tests. I waited three weeks to get back out there and after passing all of the tests waiting at the time, just like you said before Blaine, you have a normal hit that kind of just glances off of you or you don’t really feel it all that much that had a normal, average NFL hit, not a great big collision or anything like that and the concussion came right back. What happened to me was that I was not completely healed from the first concussion. Even though I waited that long amount of time and passed all the tests I still wasn’t completely healed from the first concussion and it came back just like that. After that I had to sit out another five or six weeks just for me to be completely sure that I was 100% OK.
"These concussions are very serious man, I don’t think a lot of people are taking them as serious as they should be because really it is a life or death thing. I know that Blaine, you have been out of the league for a few years now that you feel the impact and result of some of the collisions that you had. Some of the injuries that you had at that point. I think that as a player you understand that maybe as a I get older I might not be able to walk as good. I might not be able to play around as much with my kids, but at the same time as you go into the league you still think that you are going to have at least the mental capacity to be able to play with your kids. At least to talk to and have a conversation and remember things and the one thing that people have to know about concussions that if you continue to play with a concussion and you continue to play without being completely healed then you run the risk of not being able to do that. Not being able to walk and talk and communicate and remember and of course early onset of Alzheimer’s like I mentioned early as well as dementia. I don’t think any player that is going into the NFL and believes that is a realistic risk and it really is if you continue to play with concussions.”
Westbrook also said there is no doubt that McNabb will be the Eagles quarterback next season.
“I think there is no question in my mind if Donovan will be back," he said. "After what he was able to do last year which he had a very good year of course. Everybody measures, a lot of fans measure by Super Bowls. Did you win the Super Bowl and you know? Realistically there is only going to be one team out of 32 to win the Super Bowl every year and it is hard to do that. I don’t think that you can measure whether a quarterback can be successful or not whether he was a Super Bowl or not. If you look at this football team with Donovan and without Donovan I think you would be hard-pressed to say that there was better quarterback in the league than Donovan McNabb for the Philadelphia Eagles.”