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Old 02-02-2007, 12:29 AM   #1
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Default Ted Johnson slams Belichick

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories...MPLATE=DEFAULT

Johnson says Belichick ignored condition

NEW YORK (AP) -- Former New England Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson said coach Bill Belichick subjected him to hard hits in practice while he was recovering from a concussion - against the advice of the team's top trainer.

Johnson, who helped the Patriots win three Super Bowl titles before retiring two years ago, told The New York Times that a collision with another player during that 2002 practice led to another concussion. And, after sustaining additional concussions over the next three seasons, he now forgets people's names, misses appointments and suffers from depression and an addiction to amphetamines.

"There's something wrong with me," the 34-year-old Johnson told the Times in a story posted on its Web site Thursday night. "There's something wrong with my brain. And I know when it started."

The Boston Globe, which is owned by the Times, posted a similar story on its Web site.

Johnson, who played 10 years in the NFL, said he began to deteriorate in August 2002 with a concussion during an exhibition game against the New York Giants. He sustained another concussion four days later after Belichick prodded him to participate in a full-contact practice, even though he was supposed to be avoiding hits, Johnson said.

The next month, with their relationship already strained, Johnson confronted Belichick about the practice after the coach asked him to meet in his office.

"I told him, `You played God with my health. You knew I shouldn't have been cleared to play,'" Johnson told the Globe.

Belichick told the Globe he got no cue from Johnson in practice that day that he was hesitant about participating in the full-contact drill.

"If Ted felt so strongly that he didn't feel he was ready to practice with us, he should have told me," Belichick said.

The Patriots did not allow Jim Whalen, still their head trainer, to comment for this story, according to the Globe.

Patriots spokesman Stacey James told The Associated Press on Thursday night that the team was aware of the report but was not prepared to comment.

In a story last month, the Times reported that brain damage caused on the football field ultimately led to the suicide of former NFL defensive back Andre Waters last November, according to a forensic pathologist who studied Waters' brain tissue.

"We have been focused on the issue of concussions for years," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the AP. "It remains one of our prime concerns as we continue to do everything possible to protect the health of our players."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to answer questions about the issue at his annual state of the NFL news conference Friday.

Dr. Lee H. Schwamm, the neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who examined Johnson, wrote in a memo on Aug. 19, 2002, that Johnson sustained a second concussion in that practice, the Times reported.

Schwamm also wrote that, after speaking with Whalen, that the trainer "was on the sidelines when he sustained the concussion during the game and assessed him frequently at the sideline," and that "he has kept Mr. Johnson out of contact since that time."

Johnson said he spoke with Belichick the next day about the incident, but only briefly, the Times said.

"He was vaguely acknowledging that he was aware of what happened," Johnson said, "and he wanted to just kind of let me know that he knew."

Johnson sat out the next two preseason games on the advice of his neurologist, but played in the final one. Then, thinking he was still going to be left off the active roster for the season opener against Pittsburgh, he angrily left camp for two days before returning and meeting with Belichick.

"It's as clear as a bell, 'I had to see if you could play,'" Johnson recalled Belichick saying, according to the Times.

Moments later, Johnson said, Belichick admitted he had made a mistake by subjecting him to a full-contact drill.

"It was a real kind of admittance, but it was only him and I in the room," Johnson told the Times.

After returning to game action, the linebacker sustained more concussions of varying severity over the following three seasons, each of them exacerbating the next, according to his current neurologist, Dr. Robert Cantu.

Cantu told the Times he was certain that Johnson's problems "are related to his previous head injuries, as they are all rather classic postconcussion symptoms."

He added, "They are most likely permanent."

Cantu, the chief of neurosurgery and director of sports medicine at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass., also said Johnson shows signs of early Alzheimer's disease.

"The majority of those symptoms relentlessly progress over time," Cantu said. "It could be that at the time he's in his 50s, he could have severe Alzheimer's symptoms."

Johnson told the Globe he estimates he had at least six concussions in his last three seasons, but reported only one because he already had a reputation as an injury-prone player and he didn't want to make it worse.

"Looking back, it was stupid not to tell anyone," Johnson said. "But I didn't know then that every time you have a concussion, you are four to six times more susceptible the next time. I had no idea the damage I was causing myself."

Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, spoke in general terms about concussions at a news conference Thursday in Miami, where the Super Bowl will be played Sunday.

"If a coach or anyone else is saying, 'You don't have a concussion, you get back in there,' you don't have to go, and you shouldn't go," Upshaw said, not speaking about Johnson's case specifically. "You know how you feel. That's what we tried to do throughout the years, is take the coach out of the decision-making. It's the medical people that have to decide."

Upshaw told the AP that concussions are one of the issues the union is examining this year.

"We've seen a number of concussions in the NFL this year, and as a result of our studies, we've seen a change in the helmet. We're also studying the effects of that on concussions," Upshaw said.
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Old 02-02-2007, 06:19 AM   #2
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Default Re: Ted Johnson slams Belichick

Wow.

Thats pretty shocking stuff.

Here's another link to the globe, which goes into more detail on the subject.

http://www.boston.com/sports/footbal...146/?page=full

The last I heard from Ted Johnson was a few months back when it seemed he was hinting at a return (it may have been around the time Seau got injured).

The guy sounds like a mental and physical wreck - devastating stuff.

Quote:
‘‘Officially, I’ve probably only been listed as having three or four concussions in my career,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘But the real number is closer to 30, maybe even more. I’ve been dinged so many times I’ve lost count.’’
Wow...30 concussions?

Alot of this story seems absolutely crazy, especially where he is able to pinpoint where it all started - being made to practice with a blue jersey instead of the red non-contact one, and then being forced into a full contact practice by Belichick and then suffering a 2nd concussion straight away.....wow.

It will interesting to see where this one goes, hopefully Ted can make as close to a full recovery as possible.

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Old 02-02-2007, 06:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: Ted Johnson slams Belichick

If this is how things went down.... Man oh man... They really need to keep track of his symptoms and monitor him closely. Is this another Andre Waters kind of case?
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Old 02-02-2007, 06:38 AM   #4
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Default Re: Ted Johnson slams Belichick

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Originally Posted by PisnNapalm View Post
If this is how things went down.... Man oh man... They really need to keep track of his symptoms and monitor him closely. Is this another Andre Waters kind of case?
Seems like the one thing that nobody has been doing up until now is doing just that - monitoring his condition.

I think he is addicted to amphetamines and his personal life has totally unravelled, and the first we really hear about it is now.

Im glad the Patriots are being relatively forthcoming with information, this isn't a time to keep things in-house.

Quote:
Earlier this week, Johnson requested his medical records from the Patriots. He was pleased the concussion he suffered in that game against the Giants in 2002 was documented, along with notations he was not cleared to play. The subsequent concussion he suffered in practice four days later is also on record.
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Old 02-02-2007, 06:56 AM   #5
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Default Re: Ted Johnson slams Belichick

What a sad story. No matter how this situation turns out, I really feel for the guy.

That being said, though, this statement kind of stood out:

Quote:
"Looking back, it was stupid not to tell anyone," Johnson said. "But I didn't know then that every time you have a concussion, you are four to six times more susceptible the next time. I had no idea the damage I was causing myself."
Why wouldn't his neurologist have told him this information?

On the flip side of the coin - after several concussions and his symptoms obviously getting worse, I would think it would have been time to hang up the cleats.
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Old 02-02-2007, 08:01 AM   #6
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Default Re: Ted Johnson slams Belichick

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Originally Posted by Livinginthe past View Post
Wow.

Thats pretty shocking stuff.

Here's another link to the globe, which goes into more detail on the subject.

http://www.boston.com/sports/footbal...146/?page=full

The last I heard from Ted Johnson was a few months back when it seemed he was hinting at a return (it may have been around the time Seau got injured).

The guy sounds like a mental and physical wreck - devastating stuff.
I guess he missed his appointment and couldn't get in to see the coach.
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Old 02-02-2007, 08:07 AM   #7
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Default Re: Ted Johnson slams Belichick

Here is the link to the New York Times article, which includes a multimedia sidebar on concussion recovery periods and vulnerability to long term damage if another concussion is sustained during the recovery period.

This is the second big article in the Times (the last article was on Andre Walters having the brain tissue of an 80 year old at the time of his suicide) in which the topic has been the long term consequences of concussions suffered by NFL players. If I worked for the NFL or NFLPA I would be concerned that the Times appears to be teeing up this subject as a topic for ongoing reporting.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/02/sp...rtner=homepage

The multimedia graphic in the Times article appears to indicate the recovery period for a concussion, during which a player is at risk of severe adverse consequences if another blow to the head is sustained, can run up to at least 9 - 12 days. A certain franchise QB for a recent defending Super Bowl champ played within 7 days of sustaining a concussion and certainly did not appear to be firing on all cylinders when he played that next game. Why the Steelers put Ben in harm's way that day continues to be something I regard as unconscionable, as is also the case with playing Troy the next week after he was clearly wiped out during the Saints game.

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Old 02-02-2007, 08:19 AM   #8
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Default Re: Ted Johnson slams Belichick

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A certain franchise QB for a recent defending Super Bowl champ played within 7 days of sustaining a concussion and certainly did not appear to be firing on all cylinders when he played that next game. Why the Steelers put Ben in harm's way that day continues to be something I regard as unconscionable.
I don't think these two situations are alike, Dan, in that Belichick is rumored to have prodded Johnson to practice/play against his will, as well as against his physicians' advice. In Ben's situation, Cowher based his decision to play Ben on his neurologist clearing him to play and Ben stating himself that he was ready to play, which are really the only two criteria in which he could base his decision on. NFL coaches are not licensed physicians.

I went round and round with some here on the concussion issue and the long-term effects that these types of injuries most often cause and was actually horrified that Dr. Maroon cleared Ben to play so soon after his second concussion. There were quite a few members here who felt Ben should play if he was cleared by his doctors and felt well enough to get back in there, which he stated he was. I for the most part, disagreed.

The NFL most definitely needs to take a look at the concussion issue and do it sooner rather than later. From what Upshaw states in the article above, they've already begun addressing this issue.
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Old 02-02-2007, 09:06 AM   #9
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Default Re: Ted Johnson slams Belichick

HTG - sorry if I left the misimpression that I was alleging the Steelers conduct in letting Ben play was as callous as the alleged actions of Belichik pressuring Ted Johnson to play. And there certainly are other examples of more outrageous conduct, such as the Bronco player (the name of whom I cannot recall) who suffered a concussion in the game at Heinz in November and was put back in the same game by Shanahan.

As you stated, Ben's concussion and the decision to have him play the next week were the subject of intense posting here in October and early November. Every individual heals differently, but given that it appears the typical recovery period from a significant concussion extends beyond 7 days and the apparent catastrophic consequences of another concussion during the recovery period, the risk does not appear to justify playing anyone the week immediately after a concussion.

It probably is going to take some more big time verdicts (such as that won by Mike Webster's family) before the NFL and NFLPA modify their approach to addressing concussions sustained by players.
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Old 02-02-2007, 05:06 PM   #10
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Default Re: Ted Johnson slams Belichick

Say it isn't so. God made a mistake.
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