After the game this Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, it was discovered that Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo not only had a couple of cracked ribs, but that he had also suffered a partially collapsed and punctured lung.

The NFL has tried hard to crack down on head injuries and neck injuries in the past couple of years. Mainly in an attempt to control the amount of players trying to come back too early due to concussions.

At what point do team doctors need to step in? Or should injured players just not be allowed back in the game at all?

When a player blows a knee out (see Jamaal Charles for the Kansas City Chiefs this week) or breaks dislocates a shoulder (well I guess Matthew Stafford did come back into a game two years ago with one) the injury is pretty evident. The players are not able to perform at all and are in high degrees of pain.

Over the years in the NFL – – and most colleges would be my guess – – you head to the locker room, get shot up with some Novocaine, and then head back out there.

But…Playing with a collapsed lung?

Although the level of competition is completely different, I remember playing baseball in my little league days. There was a rule in place that if you came out of the game due to injury you were not allowed back into the game no matter what. I was playing 2nd base in a game and had a guy come in on a steal attempt and by left ankle conveniently got right between his cleats and the bag.

I was pulled from the game and not allowed to return. My guess is with children and athletics league organizers want to be extra careful and make sure that injuries are checked out completely.

Shouldn’t we take the same stance with athletes making millions of dollars a year? Is the risk of playing a few extra snaps or innings or an extra half or quarter worth the risk of a long term injury?

Most players will tell you they will do anything possible to get back into the game as long as they are able to walk. Lie to doctors, gut it out, take the “shot” etc.

More needs to be done to prevent longer term effects that will linger well after the playing days are over. After all, at the end of the day it is JUST a game.

Until Next Time

Stay Classy New London Connecticut!

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Johnny Goodman writes a weekly sports column for The Soap Boxers. His articles can be found in The Goodman File.

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