clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Head injuries to Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Shazier leave their return to Steelers lineup in jeopardy

New, comments

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a pair of head injuries to two starters, leaving their availability moving forward in jeopardy.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

I get sucked into a specific line of thinking when I hear a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers is being evaluated for a concussion. First, the thought is simple, "He'll be back." , and if a player, like Ryan Shazier, is deemed to have a concussion, the line of thinking shifts to "He should be ready to go by next week."

It is a dangerous way of thinking when so much research is being placed into head injuries, not just in football, but across the board. If you follow social media you have already seen the couch potato doctors hard at work diagnosing Ben Roethlisberger and his "symptoms" which, according to them, shouldn't impact his availability in the Week 13 game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Would I be surprised if Roethlisberger cleared the NFL's new concussion protocol and is cleared to practice and play in the coming week of workouts? Not in the least, but I have also been around sports long enough as a player and coach to know such a line of thinking is hasty at best.

Look at other sports to find the answer of how serious a concussion can be. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby missed almost an entire calendar year after dealing with a concussion, and a similar story can be told regarding Minnesota Twins Justin Morneau. What can happen if a player comes back from a concussion before his bruised brain, which is exactly what happens with a concussion, has yet to heal? Remember Austin Collie? The versatile WR was forced to stop playing football due to head injuries.

Shazier was diagnosed with a concussion, and Roethlisberger's status has yet to be released, but the thought of either player being prepared to play against the Colts in Week 13 is far from certain. Every brain injury is different, and requires a specific amount of time for that individual player to heal properly before taking the field again.

The best case scenario for the Steelers is Roethlisberger clearing concussion protocol and not being hindered heading into next week, and Shazier being cleared to play as well throughout the week, but banking on these events taking place is highly unlikely. Mike Tomlin will meet with the media Tuesday at noon EDT to discuss the Seattle Seahawks game, injuries as well as the upcoming game against the Colts. Let's hope fans receive good news when the head coach gives more information about his ailing team.