So how did Jets quarterback Greg McElroy go from having an abdominal issue on Wednesday to a concussion on Thursday? Apparently, the guy who scored in the 40s on the Wonderlic wasn’t smart enough to tell the team he was suffering from concussion symptoms.
Jane McManus of ESPNNewYork.com reports that McElroy had concealed his symptoms “for days,” telling teammates about the situation but only finally going to the team on Thursday morning.
“He came to my room [Christmas night] and we talked about it,” receiver Clyde Gates told ESPNNewYork.com. “He was hurting real bad. I was like, ‘Bro, I know, I’ve been down that road already. I’m just saying you can’t try to tough it out cause you going to end up hurting yourself. You’ve got to let everybody know how you really feel.'”
Guard Matt Slauson also knew about the situation. “He definitely has that [warrior] mentality, but it got to the point where it was scaring him,” Slauson said.
McElroy finally decided to approach trainers on Thursday, after experiencing headaches during a morning weightlifting session.
While it was indeed dumb for McElroy to hide his condition, McElroy was smart enough to know that admitting to headaches and other symptoms would jeopardize his ability to play, which in turn would harm his chances of showing that he can be a starting quarterback, in New York or elsewhere. Still, the league wants players to come forward.
The most alarming aspect of this story is that multiple teammates were aware of McElroy’s concussion symptoms, and yet they did nothing to alert the coaching staff or trainers to the situation. Though on one hand they would have been violating a confidence, they also would have been showing genuine concern for a teammate’s health — and if McElroy would have had a problem with it, it would have been his problem.
Most importantly, the situation reconfirms that the league has a long way to go when it comes to changing the culture of concussions. It’s easy for the NFL to talk, but real action will be needed in order to get players whose livelihood hinges on being available to play to willingly raise their hands, and potentially lose their jobs.