New York Jets coaches were apparently unaware that Greg McElroy was experiencing concussion symptoms during practice this week — after getting sacked 11 times last Sunday against the San Diego Chargers — but some of his teammates did.
The Jets quarterback — who went from nursing a minor abdominal injury to being benched for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills — had been concealing his symptoms "for days" telling teammates about the situation but only finally going to the team on Thursday morning.
It's not uncommon for NFL players to quietly play through injuries but the alarming aspect to this story is that more than a few of his Jets teammates knew about about McElroy's serious condition after the 27-17 loss and kept silent.
"He came into my room [Christmas night] and we talked about it" receiver Clyde Gates told ESPNNew York.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."
McElroy finally told Jets trainer on Thursday — after experiencing headaches during a morning weightlifting session. Head coach Rex Ryan later announced that McElroy wouldn't play this Sunday.
Guard Matt Slauson was also aware of McElroy's situation. "He definitely has that [warrior] mentality, but it got to the point where it was scaring him," he said.
One has to take in a couple of perspectives from all the players involved to explain their actions. Illogical and as dangerous as it may seem, the NFL culture breeds this type of reasoning.
McElroy — the one time third-string quarterback — is finally getting a shot at showing the league he is worthy of being a starter. Unless he battled through the pain, it might be a long time before he is given this window of opportunity again.
His teammates, while showing concern for their teammate's safety, would have been breaking an unwritten code betraying a confidence if they went to the coaches about their concerns before McElroy actually did.
These are grown men fighting for their livelihoods in a violent and mostly short-lived career. The NFL has their work cut out for them if they intend to curb the rash of concussions in the league. Apparently the players themselves aren't going to help themselves even when they are at risk.