What’s Best For Best

The Lions and running back Jahvid Best appear to be on different pages regarding his return to football.

Best suffered 2 concussions with the Lions this past season, 1 in preseason and 1 during the season.  After the last one, he suffered lingering post-concussion symptoms and was out for the remainder of the year.  Best has also suffered a very scary head injury while in college.

According to Best, he told the Detroit Free Press earlier this month that he is symptom free and that he will definitely be back next season.  The Lions don’t seem as convinced.

In fact, there are reports that within the Lions organization there is a belief that Best won’t return to playing football ever again, not just for the Lions.

In this age of concussion awareness in the NFL, it needs to come down to what is best for Best.  He is an outstanding running back and had 650 total yards and 3 TDs in just 6 games this past season before his last concussion.  He would make the Lions a much better team.  He would be a great running back for any team.  But is that what is best for Best?  Not even close.

Much like hockey great Sidney Crosby, the cumulative effect of several severe head injuries is not something that you get over very quickly.  And even if you do become symptom free, it can impact how you play going forward.  There is also the mounting evidence that repeated head injuries like concussions over years of play have a severely detrimental effect to both the brain and the behavior of players.  Chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE is becoming more and more understood at the sporting level.  It is the chronic injury and swelling that occurs every time the brain is injured.  Every time this happens, more and more damage is left as a result.  Damage that does not heal even after the swelling and symptoms have subsided.  Just ask Sidney Crosby or Major League Baseball’s Justin Morneau.

What is best for Best is that he never play football again.  The risk of more injury to his brain is too great.  Will that be what happens?  More often than not, we see that is not the case and players go back onto the field to receive even more damage.  They do it because they want to play.  They do it for the money.  Teams let them do it because they need the skills they offer.  But it is never in the player’s best interest as far as his health is concerned.

It remains to be seen if Best, the Lions and the NFL do what is best for Best.

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