Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre has some advice for Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who suffered a concussion on Sunday.
Favre realizes that Mahomes will want to play. Favre spent almost all of his career in an era before the NFL took concussions seriously. For him, whether to play or not play due to a head injury was never a question. Now, Favre preaches caution for football players.
“I played 321 straight games, it kind of goes against everything I stood for when I played,” Favre told TMZ.com. “But you’ve gotta be smart. You’ve gotta be smart. I was never faced with the decision that he potentially will face this week. And ultimately the decision may fall on the doctors. And if they choose that he doesn’t play, then it’s the right move, because of the long-term damage.”
Essentially, the doctors may need to protect Mahomes from himself.
“When you’re in the moment, and you’re young, you’re bulletproof, man,” Favre said. “But I’m 51 years old, and I’m wondering what tomorrow will bring, because of concussions more than anything.”
The focus on concussions has subsided in recent years, now that everyone knows the risks — and now that extremely few pro football players choose to not play pro football over concussion. Regardless, the league has specific rules regarding the ability of a player to return after suffering a concussion. Will Mahomes be able to return after only seven days?
“This is a test for the NFL, right now,” Favre said. “To see a star player in a crucial, crucial game, what will happen with their decision. . . . The protocol’s in place. Let’s see if they follow it.”
It wouldn’t have been an issue in Favre’s time. Chiefs coach Andy Reid acknowledged that on Monday, when addressing the situation with reporters.
“There was a chance back in the day that Patrick comes back in [the game],” Reid said. “You saw him run up the tunnel. By the time he got to that point, he was feeling pretty good. But there’s a certain protocol you have to follow and that takes it out of the trainer’s hand and the player’s hand and the doctor’s hand.”
But there’s still influence that the player can exert over the process.
“Just say he has a headache on Friday, but [the] previous three or four days he’s fine,” Favre said regarding Mahomes. “Is he gonna tell them? I doubt it. He wants to play. . . . For years up until 10 years ago there was no protocol in place, and once you felt better — which could be three or four hours — you were back out playing. He will want to play.”
He definitely will want to play. The team will want him to play. That’s why, in 2009, the NFL took the decision out of the hands of team doctors (who at times were inclined to clear a player to play in order to continue to be the team’s doctor).
In this specific case, the league will want Mahomes to play. The question becomes whether that will impact in any way the judgment exercised by the neurologist who is independent of the team but not of the league.