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Head in the Game

by Robb Reel

This was supposed to a season of resurgence for both Kevin Kolb and the Buffalo Bills.  Each has shown flashes of brilliance in recent years, but fell fast and hard thereafter.  Those glimpses at greatness faded quickly into shadows of doubt.

[Photo: Kolb as a Cardinal, lost his helmet while being sacked in a 2011 game against Seattle -- REUTERS/Anthony Bolante]

The 29-year-old Kolb is with his third team in as many years.  After being Sophie's Choice by the Philadelphia Eagles over Donovan McNabb, he was similarly sacrificed in favor of dog killer Michael Vick.  Two tumultuous seasons with the Cardinals ended with Arizona releasing him in March.  The day prior, Buffalo closed the Ryan Fitzpatrick chapter and soon signed Kolb for two years, $13 million.  That path to the future was put in serious jeopardy, as was Kolb's career, when a hit from Washington Redskin London Fletcher resulted in another concussion.

[Photo: Pat LaFonatine as a New York Ranger, via Wikipedia Commons]

My first recollection of concussions ending a sports career was hockey's Pat LaFontaine in 1999.  Quarterback Chris Miller came almost immediately after.  That was the first time I considered what athletes are willing to do to their bodies, what sacrifices of the future they would make for glory.  I have pondered PEDs, Lyle Alzado, Roger Maris and what Florence Griffith-Joyner may or may not have done to contribute to her heart problems and early death.  It's so easy to say what someone else should or shouldn't do.  How many proclaimed Peyton Manning was done and had no business risking his future health, and the ability to even lift his twin children, only to see him bounce back with the Broncos last season?  I know what I put my own body through as a baseball player and coach and a hockey goalie, yet I don't feel any more qualified to tell someone else what choices s/he can make with his/her body.

My greatest fear on the concussion issue: this may yet get worse before it gets better.