Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that San Francisco 49ers signal caller Alex Smith has passed his concussion tests and is cleared to play Monday Night against the Chicago Bears. The injury took place last week in a game that ended in a 24-24 final score tie against the St. Louis Rams. Backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick relieved Smith in the second quarter of the game.
While the NFL has suggested it has tougher concussion standards, it is hard for me to believe that Smith is 100 percent after the beating he took in that game. It makes me question the whole process of clearing these guys to play, and if the NFL is actually taking these types of injuries seriously. While we all want to think playing through injuries displays toughness, concussions are more than just a sprain or bruise. The long-term ramifications of these injuries are proving to be scary. Asking these guys to come back too early is risking even more permanent damage.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was also concussed on Sunday night against the Houston Texans. While Cutler hasn’t been ruled out of Monday Night’s game, I really hope he doesn’t play. The Bears spent a lot of money on backup quarterback Jason Campbell as an insurance policy based on the disaster of Caleb Hanie last season. With Campbell, the Bears have a proven NFL quarterback ready to lead the offense. Obviously Campbell isn’t Cutler, but he’s better than most other backups around the league.
For the sake of Smith, I hope he doesn’t play either. There’s a lot more on the line than a football game. And while this game has huge playoff implications, the winner and loser of contest will still be strong contenders in the NFC.
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