Linebacker Jon Alston is out with “residual” effects of a concussion, and the most important question is exactly how many times he was hurt and if he was permitted to play too long.
Alston showed up Saturday morning feeling dizzy and was throwing up. If coach Tom Cable seemed unsure of exactly when Alston was hurt, it’s because Alston had at least two and possibly three concussions of various degrees. Cable targeted it as the “first or second week” of November.
“For him to show up Saturday and be ill like he was and describe to us how he was feeling, that’s a red flag,” Cable said. “So you have to be wise and figure out what’s going on.”
Alston was listed on the injury report for the first time with a concussion on Oct. 11, following the New York Giants game. A concussion was mentioned again after the Nov. 1 game against the San Diego Chargers.
Following the bye week, against the Chiefs on Nov. 15, Alston, while making a special teams play, arose and appeared disoriented. He eventually made his way to the bench, sat for a series or two staring straight down with his head between his legs, and eventually made his way back into the game.
After the first two concussions, Alston was cleared on “baseline tests” and allowed to play. There was never any listing of an injury following the Chiefs game.
It’s an issue for medical personnel, but in casual observation, Alston, a bright an interesting guy to talk to since he got here, hasn’t been himself of late. I know, the NFL is a tough business and lots of players don’t always have good days. But from a distance, the repeated exposure looked a little unnecessary.
Alston’s story will be minimized because he’s not a quarterback, like Ben Roethlisberger or Kurt Warner, who both had concussion issues over the weekend. But here’s a guy who took two and probably three blows to the head that affected him over a six-week period and kept on playing. And this is an NFL issue, not a Raiders issue.
Commissioner Roger Goodell and the player’s union can’t resolve this soon enough. The Raiders may have done everything right regarding Alston, but it still looks bad. NFL players need to be protected from themselves, and it’s up to Goodell and the player’s union to make sure that happens.
The NFL Network reported Goodell sent out a memo to all 32 teams advising them of the resignations of two concussion committee co-chairs.
An impartial expert on head injuries will err on the side of caution. A team doctor might well do the same thing, but should never be in the decision to make that call.
More news, notes and quotes to come . . .