What seemed a foregone conclusion for the Detroit Lions is now official: Tailback Jahvid Best won't play this season because he hasn't been cleared from a concussion he suffered more than a year ago. As we discussed the last time the Lions provided an update on the situation, the only remaining question is whether Best will ever play football again.
Neither Best nor the Lions will face that decision until July 2013, the next time he would be eligible for football-style contact. At that point, Best will have gone more than 21 months since suffering his most recent concussion on Oct. 16, 2011.
Again, we're mostly flying blind in discussing the medical aspects of Best's recovery. We don't know his tests results, what standards he's being held to or how close he has been to getting the green light from doctors. But it's fair to ask what, if anything, could happen over the next nine months from a testing standpoint that hasn't already happened for Best. And even if he makes the required progress before next summer, is it wise for anyone to resume a football career after needing so long to recover from his last hit?
We all know the non-medical answer to that question, and it's worth noting that the Lions' statement on Friday made no mention of his future. General manager Martin Mayhew said, in part: "Javhid's approach to this situation and his adherence to the process and protocol have been exemplary. No one has worked harder or shown more dedication than Jahvid has over the past year. As disappointing as this decision is for us and Jahvid, we do believe it is in his long-term best interest."
Concussion protocol is evolving all the time. We can all look at the situation intuitively and question whether it's time for Best to move on with his life. We can also wonder if the Lions would keep him on the payroll for another season of uncertainty. We can't predict or assume, other than to say that it sure doesn't look good from the outside.
Related: Our look at the Lions' decision to draft Best in 2010 after his college career was ended by a frightening concussion.