HBO’s Joe Buck Live has adopted a different format of late.
Gone are the awkward (but entertaining) moments between Buck and renegade guests like Artie Lange. Instead, the show is featuring actual sports conversations, which generate news unrelated to the question of whether Buck is hopelessly out of his element.
On Tuesday night, Eagles running back Brian Westbrook joined Buck to discuss Westbrook’s recent experiences with concussions.
“I’m worried about it,” Westbrook told Buck, via Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Concussions have been all
over the headlines and all over the papers, and it has been on the top
of my mind since the Redskins game on the 26th of October.”
On that night in Washington, Westbrook was knocked out, thanks to a hit from Redskins linebacker
Brian Westbrook London Fletcher.
“I’m very concerned just because there is not a lot of data that
says in 10 years or 20 years you’ll be fine if you had too many
concussions,” Westbrook said. “I’m worried about that, and, hopefully, next
time I go out there I don’t have to worry about it anymore.
But we’re not sure there will be a next time, even if Westbrook wants one. He has become the de facto face of the current concussion problem, and given his age and declining skills and history of injuries below the neck we think that he could be nudged out of the game after the 2009 season.
Really, which team will take the risk that comes with having Westbrook on the field? He occupies one of the more fungible positions in the sport, where players on the wrong side of 30 already are regarded as part of the rocking-chair and Flomax demographic. With Westbrook openly discussing his fears, it will be difficult for a team to embrace him as a player — especially since his presence in the locker room could cause those fears to spread to his teammates.
That said, the Eagles might be able to bring him back for sentimental reasons, but in a reduced role and at a reduced salary, like Jerome Bettis in his last season or two with the Steelers.
But it’s also arguably not in the overall interests of the league for Westbrook to play again. Another serious concussion could counter many of the changes that the league recently has made to keep Congress out of the NFL’s backyard.
As we explained several weeks ago at SportingNews.com, this is one of the very real dynamics of the new sensitivity to concussions. Players who develop concussions problems will be forced out of the game prematurely, especially if they are not regarded as star players or if they are once great players now on the down side of a career.