Cutler kept out of practice as concussion discussion continues unabated
Nov 16, 2012 (Chicago Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
While Jay Cutler was elsewhere in Halas Hall, presumably going through paces to return from his most recent concussion, Brian Urlacher said "yeah" when asked if he still would lie to medical personnel if he suffered a head injury.
Look no further to see what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is up against as he strives to change the culture of concussions in a league popularized by violent, high-speed collisions. The Bears face the prospect of playing Monday night at San Francisco without Cutler, who was held out of practice Thursday.
Bears coach Lovie Smith said he couldn't say if Cutler will be able to play Monday and declined to speculate if he might return to practice Friday. Jason Campbell will start if Cutler is not available.
Players like Urlacher and Cutler are not in danger of losing their fortunes with a head injury. But it's different for younger, less-experienced players just trying to get established.
Take the case of running back Lorenzo Booker. He seemingly had the third running back job locked up before suffering a concussion in the exhibition finale against the Browns in Cleveland. The Bears placed him on injured reserve and he remained there for two weeks -- collecting two game checks -- before he passed mandated concussion evaluation and was cut.
Booker, who suffered a concussion last season with the Vikings, received roughly $82,352 on a contract that would have paid him $700,000 in 2012.
That's one reason the NFL doesn't get much cooperation through the ranks when it comes to head injuries. There is so much money at stake and players know a concussion or series of them can be career-enders.
"There are points in every game where you give a hit and you're a little woozy," Urlacher said. "Not every game but mostly every game you hit someone and you're like, 'Whoa! That was a good one.' I don't know how you can lie these days with all the crap they have to see who's concussed and who's not. I don't know how they can tell in the first place.
"I think the helmets aren't very good. I wear an old helmet. Lance (Briggs) wears an old helmet. We don't get concussed. We have some pretty big collisions, we don't get concussed. I think a lot of it has to do with the helmets now and the way they're saying they are better but they must not be because people get more concussions now."
Urlacher says he has been lucky and said he has had only "one major concussion" in 2003 against the Broncos when he "missed a couple of plays." But he has seen up close the effect concussions can have on teammates. Hunter Hillenmeyer was a teammate for eight seasons before a fifth concussion in his NFL career forced him into retirement.
"That's why you have to judge if you don't want to play," Urlacher said. "Don't want to get concussed Don't play. It's your career. It's your life. You have to make that decision on your own. Some guys have shut it down because of that. That's the value of after football, I guess. If I got concussed a lot, I probably wouldn't keep playing."
It's a lot easier for a 13-year veteran to say he would pack it in than a player just trying to break in, whether he's being honest about his situation or not.
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