WE'RE TALKING about "process."
We're not talking about games.
Eagles coach Andy Reid and later trainer Rick Burkholder used and reused the word so much yesterday when speaking about Michael Vick, well, it made your head hurt a little.
Reid: "It's hard to give you the future because you want to make sure you do this the right way and go through the process. It's like playing the game, you know, the guys have to go through the process. With the concussion, you have to go through the process, so that's what we're doing."
Burkholder: "I'm going to tell you that I'm not real worried about him playing right now. I'm worried about the process that we go through . . . Is there pressure on me? I don't think so. I don't think there's pressure on anybody. We go through a process and that's how it's always been around here. You go through a process. And once you answer all that process, then the product will take care of itself. So if he plays, he plays. If he doesn't, he doesn't from a concussion standpoint."
It was barely more than a year ago that Kevin Kolb wandered off the field with a clump of grass in his helmet. Later in that same game, Stewart Bradley Joe Fraziered his way to the sideline. Two seasons ago, Brian Westbrook suffered one concussion, was cleared, and incurred another that signaled a speedy end to his dynamic career as an Eagle. Add in the chapters involving Eric Lindros and Keith Primeau and most recently, the Chase Utley beaning scare and, well, Philadelphia has become ground zero for concussion discussion.
What we have learned is that the process is a process. Some of what we know about concussions today, we didn't a few years ago. Some of the procedures employed now were not employed as recently as last year, when both Kolb and Bradley were allowed back into that game against Green Bay.
This past offseason, the NFL standardized the baseline testing used by all 32 teams and created a process each team must now follow. Burkholder said yesterday that Vick was very close to matching his baseline, but that he wanted to run him through more physical exertion before sending him to an independent neurologist - another new wrinkle in the NFL policy.
All hints yesterday suggested that Vick will make it through the process and be cleared to play Sunday. Does that mean he should? There's the rub. There's not a neurologist or neurosurgeon out there who will argue that another impact won't trigger consequences.
"Because it's an inside deal," said Eagles receiver Jason Avant, who suffered a concussion against the Giants last winter but was cleared to play against the Vikings the next week. "It's not an external thing. We can't screw someone's head off and see their brain. So it's one of those things where there's going to be suggestions, opinions, whatever."
Avant was actually cleared to play against the Vikings that Sunday, 2 days before the snow-delayed game was actually played. Someone asked him if the 2 extra days helped him.
"Yeah, definitely," he said. "But my situation is different. I'm not Mike, I'm not any other guy who had a concussion. I haven't had a history of them. I got hit, I immediately knew where I was, knew we had won, knew all those things."
Vick does not have a history of them, either. Then again, neither did Kolb, Bradley or Westbrook. The Eagles were criticized for putting Kolb and Bradley back on the field, for allowing Westbrook to come back as soon as he did. But they were following the "process" of the time.
"They were fine," Reid said of Kolb and Bradley after that game against Green Bay last September. "All the questions that they answered and the things they did with the docs registered well. As it went on, they weren't feeling well, so we took them out."
Reid is a football coach. Rick's a good guy, an earnest guy. Both know the whole football world is waiting to see what happens in this case, especially with Giants week upon us. Both know that another Vick concussion this season, no matter when it happens, and the criticism begins anew, intensified even.
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