Take A Week?
Caution is best approach for Cutler
I've covered the NHL for a decade and the theory there applies to Jay Cutler: When a player is cleared and thinks he's ready to return from a head injury -- even if he's been practicing -- he should wait one more game or even one more week.
Just because there are 82 hockey games and just 16 NFL games in a season, it doesn't invalidate that notion. Cutler should sit out Monday night's game against the San Francisco 49ers.
At the end of last season, I witnessed the Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews skate and work out for weeks at a much higher pace than Cutler will this week, and even though Toews' head was clear, he just didn't feel right enough to play.
"My last year I had suffered a concussion, and I passed the baseline test with better scores than I had when I originally took it," Warner said. "I could go out and practice and do everything I needed to do physically and mentally. Yet personally I knew I wasn't right. I knew that there was just something that was a little bit off, it was a little bit unclear."
And for those wondering if a Monday night game against an elite NFL team should make the difference, consider this: If the Bears were 2-7 instead of 7-2 and this question arose, would you advocate Cutler's sitting out?
If the answer is yes, then the question for this game has been answered.
Jesse Rogers is a reporter for ESPNChicago.com.
If docs sign off, Cutler should play
Let me begin by saying that I would never advocate a player's returning too soon from a serious injury such as a concussion. I take NFL player safety seriously.
But the debate here is whether Cutler should play Monday night if he passes all his tests and is able to physically exert himself for an extended period of time without feeling the effects of the concussion.
If Cutler is given the green light by the doctors, and if the quarterback is determined to play, then he should start against the San Francisco 49ers.
This has nothing to do with the fact that the Bears' offense would be better with Cutler at quarterback than with Jason Campbell. If Cutler doesn't feel like he's ready to return, then everyone in the organization needs to respect that decision, even if it decreases their chances of beating the 49ers on the road.
Future Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner told ESPN 1000's "Waddle & Silvy Show" on Tuesday that he once made the decision to skip a game after he passed the concussion tests. I applaud Warner for having the guts to make such a tough call, just like I applaud Sports Legacy Institute founder Chris Nowinski for all his efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of head trauma in sports.
If my son sustained concussion, he would not be playing in a football game the next week. But Cutler is an adult and is therefore entitled to make his own decisions, if the doctors clear him to play.
If the NFL rules state that a player must meet a certain criteria to come back from a concussion, and Cutler reaches that criteria and wants to get back on the field, who am I to tell him he cannot play?
Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com.