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Chiefs Pantalones
11-19-2006, 02:31 AM
Trent’s slow road back
Chiefs were cautious before clearing QB to start today, which some say is rare in the NFL.

By ELIZABETH MERRILL
The Kansas City Star

It has been said in some circles that the front office at Arrowhead Stadium is quite fond of Trent Green. They’ve done wine tastings, charity events and Christmas photos together. In the dead of the offseason, Green and his wife, Julie, are known to hobnob at the Kentucky Derby with Chiefs president/general manager Carl Peterson.

“Some people have asked me,” Peterson said Friday, “am I going to be concerned for Trent when he gets on the field and takes his first hit? You’re damned right I am. My relationship with the Greens is more than just employer-employee.”

Taking care of Trent is a serious matter. When Green was knocked unconscious in September, the Chiefs brought on at least three outside specialists, a handful of team physicians, MRIs, brain scans and cognitive tests. Ten weeks to the day of the concussion, Green finally has the OK to start today against the Raiders.

Peterson says the Chiefs would treat any player this way, because the club’s philosophy is player first and club second. “It may be Pollyanna,” he says, “but I believe that.”

The delicate touch appears to go against the grain in the walk-it-off mentality of the NFL. Some 1,200 miles away, a guy named Michael Kaplen has become a proverbial pain in the league’s backside. Kaplen’s a lawyer with a thick East Coast accent, a man who doesn’t follow football much and hadn’t seen Green’s hit.

Kaplen is calling on Congress to hold hearings on the concussion research that the NFL relies on to determine when players can return. He says the league is sending the wrong messages.

He sees Ben Roethlisberger, who suffered two concussions in four months. Roethlisberger was back under center a week after his concussion, and threw four interceptions in Pittsburgh’s loss to the Raiders. He sees high school players try to tough it out.

“It permeates everything,” says Kaplen, president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State. “In this country, sports figures are looked at as idols, and our country measures things by sports. When you see things treated with indifference … it affects everybody who has a traumatic brain injury. These kids look at these players as role models.”

•••

For two weeks, at the start of November, Green told coach Herm Edwards he was back. He zipped throws in practice. I’m ready to play, coach, Green would say.

“He was itchy,” Edwards says. “I just kept telling him, ‘You’ve got to be patient because we’re not doing anything until they clear you.’ ”

Former NFL executive Gil Brandt says Green’s 10-week sitdown is one of the longest he can remember for a concussed quarterback. And the longer Green sat, the more the phone rang on the fourth floor at Arrowhead Stadium. Peers and colleagues were wondering whether Green’s injury was more serious than reported. No, they’d say. They were just listening to the doctors.

Edwards was coaching in New York when Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet suffered multiple concussions that ultimately ended his career. Chrebet’s story has been well publicized, and he was the subject of a recent ESPN The Magazine piece that raised questions on the qualifications of Elliot Pellman, the Jets’ team physician who oversees league research on concussions.

According to published reports, Pellman ran Chrebet through a series of mental tests after a concussion in 2003, then put him back in the game. Edwards, whose policy has always been to listen to his doctors, says Chrebet had no bearing on the Green decision.

“I just tell the players there’s a difference between injury and being hurt,” Edwards says. “You’re always going to be hurt as a player. When you’ve got an injury, that’s different. Players can’t play when they’re injured.

“We were going to take the long road and be very diligent in our judgment of when to bring him back. It’s been 10 weeks, and that’s a long time. We just feel at this point he’s seen enough doctors, taken enough tests. He feels good, and he can play.”

•••

Like millions of other football fans, Chris Nowinski was tuned in when the highlights of the infamous Green hit played over and over in the days after Sept. 10. Nowinski wrote the book Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis. He has been following Green’s progress all season.

In the span of four years, Nowinski suffered at least six concussions in football and wrestling. The Harvard graduate kept playing because it was the macho thing to do, and he didn’t know the long-term effects of concussions.

The University of North Carolina recently surveyed 2,488 former NFL players and found that 61 percent had suffered at least one concussion in their careers and 16 percent believed they suffered long-term damage.

When Nowinski saw Green’s hit, he thought, “Oh God, I hope they don’t put him back in.”

“I’m actually pleased with the way the Chiefs have handled this,” Nowinski says. “It’s absolutely unique in the NFL this season for them to … treat a player conservatively.

“In many cases, you look at a lot of these teams protecting their investment. But I get the impression that they were actually protecting the person. Most situations, the day the guy says he’s ready to be back on the field, he’s there. Trent was given an extra cushion.”

The first couple of days after the concussion were somewhat of a fog for Green. He was hospitalized for two nights and spent the next week in bed. But within two days of the injury, Peterson said he knew his quarterback would play again. Green told him so.

What followed was a long month of communicating and convincing. Green took his wife with him to see a specialist in Pittsburgh and assured her he wouldn’t rush his timetable or jeopardize his health.

“It’s a trust thing,” Green says. “We’ve been married for a long time, and she trusts me that I’m going to be up front with her in terms of how the symptoms are going. Now that all of those have subsided and the doctors have given me complete clearance, she feels very confident with it. I’m sure she’ll have her moments … the first time I get knocked down. But she feels pretty confident in what I’ve told her and what the doctors have told her.”

•••

It is less than two days before kickoff, and the Chiefs’ locker room is buzzing. Hip-hop music blasts from a stall, and a cornerback yells for somebody to turn it up. Edwards expected this, an infusion of energy when the Chiefs got Green back.

He’s their leader, their quarterback, and he’s tired of waiting. Across the room, Jordan Black peels off his practice gear. As the Chiefs’ left tackle, it’s Black’s job to have Green’s back, and for weeks, Black says, Green’s been like a little kid.

“He just wants to play,” Black says. “You can tell that’s always been there. He’s wanted to get on the field ever since this whole thing happened.”

But Black doesn’t feel any extra pressure to take care of Trent. They’ve been doing it for 10 weeks.

Halfcan
11-19-2006, 02:53 AM
Merrill likes it in the bumm hole.

the Talking Can
11-19-2006, 05:57 AM
It is less than two days before kickoff, and the Chiefs’ locker room is buzzing. Hip-hop music blasts from a stall, and a cornerback yells for somebody to turn it up. Edwards expected this, an infusion of energy when the Chiefs got Green back.

I call bs, everyone knows the team is still mourning Huards's benching. Until the rightful King re-takes his place the land will suffer and the womens' births will all be still-born. And 7th Heaven will run in syndication.

the Talking Can
11-19-2006, 06:00 AM
I read that Polamalu is coming back this week from his 6th concussion. After only 1 week, I think.

Can't believe he isn't doing some damage.

headsnap
11-19-2006, 07:12 AM
I read that Polamalu is coming back this week from his 6th concussion. After only 1 week, I think.

Can't believe he isn't doing some damage.
"From behind, Larry Johnson tackles Troy Polamalu by the grey matter..."

kcfanXIII
11-19-2006, 07:24 AM
ya, i'm sure the team is morning the loss of huard, and green's spot on this team as a leader, a spot he's earned through the past 5 years, just vanished in the last 10 weeks. chiefs fans are just a little timid after what happend last time we benched a backup.
btw, if huardwants to go to oakland this off season, be my guest. he will not repeat what (insert unmentionable name here) did. with that o line, huard will be a sitting duck back there. and we all know how he likes to lose the ball because he dosen'tfeel the rush in tiem to tuck it away.

welcome back trent.

kcfanXIII
11-19-2006, 07:25 AM
oh, and couldn't they have found a better lineman to interview than I-65?

the Talking Can
11-19-2006, 07:49 AM
oh, and couldn't they have found a better lineman to interview than I-65?

the rest are protesting Huard's benching by refusing all interviews....

StcChief
11-19-2006, 08:14 AM
Black better have Green's back.
He's had 10 weeks to get it right.

CupidStunt
11-19-2006, 08:18 AM
Oakland can get after the passer a little. Burgess is a solid edge rusher and Sapp is able to destroy Bober if he shows up interested.

These guys better play their best game of the season.