Monday, April 16, 2012
Thoughts on Stokley, Kolb and concussions
By Mike Sando
Brandon Stokley became a preferred target for Matt Hasselbeck when the two were playing for the Seattle Seahawks.
More recently, Stokley became a factor in securing Peyton Manning for the Denver Broncos.
There's something about a reliable slot receiver. Quarterbacks love them. And Stokley has been a good one.
But the Broncos' contract agreement with Stokley, announced by the team Monday, runs counter to the NFL's heightened sensitivity over head injuries. While the league continues to make player safety a top priority, teams welcome back players with extensive concussion histories, Stokley among them. This doesn't feel right.
The last we heard from Stokley in the NFC West, he was recovering from his most recent concussion, one of "more than a dozen" he estimated suffering since high school. By then, the tone regarding concussions had changed from a few years earlier.
The NFL, facing lawsuits from former players over concussions, has struck a serious tone on the subject, changing rules and considering additional measures, including the elimination of kickoffs.
If Stokley wants to continue playing, that is his decision. But how many concussions are too many for a team to consider adding a player? The Broncos' medical staff surely has a good feel for Stokley's condition. Perhaps Stokley is at no additional risk. That seems difficult to believe given what is known about cumulative effects of head trauma.
What would the reaction be if Stokley suffered a catastrophic head injury during the 2012 season? Would anyone be surprised?
The subject was already on my mind Monday after reading Kent Somers' report about Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb battling concussion symptoms.
"To be honest with you, when I first went home it was still pretty severe," Kolb said in Somers' report. "It kind of worried me because I figured once I got away from the game, it would clear up pretty fast. But it didn't and I stayed in contact with our guys here. Within three or four days after that three-week period, it was fine. I was glad to be feeling back to normal."