In October, Lions running back Jahvid Best suffered his latest concussion. Six months later, he has yet to receive the green light to return to the football field.
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports that doctors have not yet given Best full clearance.
Best has been cleared to work out, something he’s been doing since December. And he’ll be present for the start of the team’s offseason program on Monday, since for the first two weeks it consists exclusively of working out.
“We’re just waiting on final clearance with Jahvid,” G.M. Martin Mayhew said. “It’s not like a hamstring where it’s a certain amount of time and a guy’s going to be ready. With the head you have to be careful and be smart. We’re not doing anything right now. There’s no need to rush to judgment on Jahvid’s situation. So we’re very optimistic. He’s doing very well. He feels great. He’s training right now and we’re looking forward to him being cleared.”
The problem is that Best eventually will suffer more blows to the head, given the position that he plays. Even if the league were to outlaw between now and September helmet-to-helmet hits on ball carriers (that change could come eventually), Best carries the NFL’s scarlet letter. No matter what the league says or does, defensive players will realize that the most effective way to prevent a player with uncanny skills from taking a swing pass and sprinting 80 yards untouched to the end zone will be to give him another concussion.
They may no longer be saying it, but it’s impossible to keep them from thinking it.
Those sentiments now make many a little squeamish in the wake of the Saints’ bounty scandal and the Gregg Williams “kill the head” audio. Still, even if that mindset eventually is removed from the sport, it won’t be disappearing before Best suffers his next concussion.