- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

After flipping over the receiver and bouncing the back of his head off the field, Redskins cornerback Josh Norman was down and dazed.

Watching a slow-motion replay of Norman hitting his head last Sunday against the Detroit Lions showed the blank look boxers often have after crashing to the canvas. Norman eventually sat up, then was helped off the field. He starts this week in the NFL’s concussion protocol and the team is unsure if he will make the trip to London to play against the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday.

Concussions are having an influence on the Redskins’ season. Tight end and leading receiver Jordan Reed missed two consecutive games after suffering what is at least his fifth career concussion. Reed said he knew right away that he could have a concussion, but chose to keep the evidence to himself so he could stay in the game Week 5 against Baltimore.

Safety Su’a Cravens caused a stir after saying on social media that a concussion he suffered in Week 4 against the Cleveland Browns gave him permanent vision damage. That claim was later downplayed.

Now, Norman is in the concussion protocol.

The injuries to Reed and Cravens again raise the ongoing discussion about balance of future with playing present. Reed expressed that he needs to take care of his family, which is the reason he kept his issues quiet until the Tuesday after the game he was injured in. It’s a strange sentiment from someone who signed an offseason contract that guaranteed him $22 million.

Cravens, a 21-year-old rookie, had previously discussed concussions with bravado at his Pro Day workout before leaving USC. He said he had no concerns about the link between chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, and football.

“I know I am going into a game where I am going to hit and sometimes you are going to use your head to hit and you might get a concussion, that’s what we signed up for,” Cravens told the Los Angeles Times in March. “I saw the NFL passed that they aren’t going to be paying any more lawsuits on CTE from now on, so in that case, let’s take helmet-to-helmet penalties out. If we know what we are signing up for, let’s play. That’s how I look at it. I mean, I like to play ball.”

Cravens was inactive in Weeks 5 and 6 because of the concussion.

The approach to the injury seems to vary. Reed made his decision. Cravens went at it head on. Tight end Vernon Davis is in his 11th season and 32 years old. His personal view of concussions had changed along with the league’s.

When he first entered the NFL, Davis said a concussion was something that caused a player to take a couple days to clear his head.

“You go out there, you get banged up, all of a sudden you have this migraine headaches, you’re sensitive to light, sounds, takes a couple days, you’re back out there,” Davis said. “That was the general rule.”

Over time, he became more aware of what a concussion meant to his brain. He watched the 2015 film “Concussion” starring Will Smith and did research on his own. That shifted him from the “couple days” perspective.

“You want to be really, really cautious when it comes to that,” Davis said. “There are so many things that can go wrong if you don’t handle it correctly and use the perfect protocol to getting back out there on the field. You want to take your time with that.”

Were he to be asked, he would tell younger players to speak up. Davis called it “smart” to tell a doctor if symptoms of a concussion may be occurring. He, like Reed, pointed to life after and outside of football, though he did it with a different tact.

“This game is only temporary,” Davis said. “We have the rest of our lives to live. You want to make sure that when you leave this game, you can spend time with your family and kids and live a happy, graceful life. We just have to understand, be cognizant of our future post-career and know it’s not worth going back out there and playing this game.”

Crucial members of the Redskins have been wrestling with that decision-making this season.

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