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Head strong

Like many players, Green reluctant to leave game

Posted: Thursday October 18, 2007 11:37AM; Updated: Thursday October 18, 2007 11:57AM
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Trent Green was carted off the field after suffering a concussion against the Texans on Oct. 7.
Trent Green was carted off the field after suffering a concussion against the Texans on Oct. 7.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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Trent Green does not want his final moment in the NFL to be the image of him fastened to a yellow stretcher, his body rigid beneath black straps, his hands clasped together as if in prayer.

A professional athlete pictures a different ending -- a trophy, a parting gift, a sunset, maybe -- but the 37-year-old Green could be in his final days as a quarterback after sustaining his second severe concussion in 13 months on Oct. 7 against Houston.

Green's instinct may be telling him to fight, but the issue of head trauma in the NFL is a serious one.

For decades, head injuries and their aftermath were simply viewed as part of the game. You got your bell rung, you saw stars, you went back in the huddle.

Even recently players have worked the angles to get back on the field.

Peyton Manning told the story four years ago of taking a neuropsychological test as a rookie in 1998. He was asked to memorize as many words as he could and then to record them on a separate page.

His score would then be stored away until he sustained a concussion, at which time he would take the test again and the results would be compared with his original test to help gauge the extent of the injury.

"I remember thinking, 'If I'm ever going to have to do this test again, I'm going to do it poorly the first time because I don't want to get taken out of a game,'" Manning said. "I remember kind of faking it."

Earlier this year, retired Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson told the New York Times and the Boston Globe that he believed Bill Belichick, in 2002, went against the recommendation of the team trainer and submitted Johnson to full contact drills four days after he sustained a concussion. Johnson said the fear of losing his job kept him from sitting himself out. He said he sustained another concussion in that practice.

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