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Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Westbrook's worried about his future

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Speaking for the first time since suffering his second concussion this season, Eagles running back Brian Westbrook was quite candid regarding his future. He wants to play again, but he'd also like to have a fully functioning brain for the next 40 years or so. Westbrook was making an appearance on HBO's "Joe Buck Live" from New York University.

Brian Westbrook
Brian Westbrook wants to be sure he's 100 percent healthy before returning to the field.
"I'm very concerned just because there is not a lot of data that says in 10 years or 20 years you'll be fine if you had too many concussions," he said. "I'm worried about that, and, hopefully, next time I go out there I don't have to worry about it anymore.

"That's my biggest concern. How am I going to be when I'm 50 or when I'm 60? Will I have all these brain diseases and will I have a problem remembering things? . . . Now, I'm trying to get myself together with the help of the doctors as well as coach [Andy] Reid and the training staff. Now, the most important thing is to get 100 percent healthy -- and not play football . . . until I'm 100 percent healthy."

And all of those concerns sound quite reasonable to me. With the research that's being conducted, it's pretty obvious that repeated brain trauma on the field could lead to long-term health issues. So who can blame Westbrook for not rushing back onto the field?

It sounds like Westbrook's weighing a lot of different opinions:

You hear all these different stories," Westbrook said. "You hear the worst -- from guys dying who had a concussion, you hear about guys with memory loss and things like that.

"You also hear, 'You can probably play next week. I played with a concussion. I had two or three concussions in one game.' . . . So at that point you try to process all the information and figure out what the best thing is to do. I've played with knee injuries and I played with ankle injuries throughout my career . . . but for me, and I think for any player, you can't really live your life without having a brain. You don't expect to leave the game without the ability to think. I don't want to put myself in that position."

I don't think the Eagles will rush Westbrook in any way. They'd love to have him return to the field this season, but only if he's comfortable with it. I don't think you'll hear any of his teammates say anything close to what Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward recently said about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.