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Tuesday, March 1, 2011
BBAO: Hillenmeyer was 'candid' with Bears

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

We're Black and Blue All Over:

If you haven't already, you really should check out the extensive statement released Monday by former Chicago Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, especially in light of the recent suicide of ex-Bears safety Dave Duerson.

As Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune points out, Hillenmeyer -- whom the Bears released Monday -- notes that he hasn't yet been cleared to play in 2011 because of a history of recurring concussions. He insisted that the Bears forced him to sit out most of the 2010 season and expressed gratitude for it.
Hillenmeyer, in part: "Barring some unforeseen turn of events, I don't think there was a set of circumstances where I would have been cleared to play next season anyway. The more we pull back the curtain on the long-term effects of head injury, the scarier it gets for players in my position, who have multiple diagnosed concussions and countless more 'dings' and headaches.

"On one hand, I feel lucky to have been relatively candid about my symptoms compared to some colleagues who do everything they can to conceal their struggles. I can only thank the Bears organization, from the trainers and the doctors up to Lovie [Smith] and Jerry [Angelo], for trying to be proactive in the way concussions are handled. On the other hand, any player who tells you they aren't affected by the tragic stories like Dave Duerson's, that seem to be popping up all too often, are lying."

As unfortunate as the circumstances are, you would hope that players and teams will use the Bears' treatment of Hillenmeyer this season as a baseline for their approach to concussions moving forward. Hopefully Hillenmeyer's status as a reserve player didn't make it easier than if it had occurred with a star. And let's also hope that players follow Hillenmeyer's lead in refusing to hide his symptoms.

Continuing around the NFC North: