After being initially cleared to play last week, the San Francisco 49ers announced this morning that quarterback Alex Smith is out of tonight’s game against the Chicago Bears. Smith suffered a concussion last week against the St. Louis Rams. Smith now joins Bears starting signal caller Jay Cutler (also ruled out as of last Friday with a concussion) as observers of tonight’s action. A nationwide audience gets to see quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick for the 49ers and Jason Campbell for the Bears.
This is the right thing to do for both teams. While Smith (and I am sure Cutler) wanted to play tonight, there’s a much bigger battle being fought both on-and-off the field with NFL players. Our understanding of the short-and-long term effects of concussions are revealing some scary realizations. One of these being that perhaps some of the later issues many former NFL stars are dealing with could be prevented by allowing players to properly heal from these injuries. Even up to three years earlier, guys were allowed to return to action even after suffering concussions. It is scary to think that we didn’t take brain injuries seriously, but because it wasn’t something we could see, it was easy to ignore.
While tonight’s game has huge implications for both teams, there are much bigger battles to fight for both of these teams. Risking a starting quarterback that isn’t 100 percent is not the right thing to do. This is a real gold star for the NFL and both of these franchises.
I’m sure I will have thoughts on this contest tonight. Follow me on Twitter @ChicagoBearJew and Hashtag #RML with your thoughts and feelings.