Whether you believe it was prompted by genuine concern or self-serving interests, it is hard to deny that the NFL has raised awareness about the detrimental impact that chronic concussions can have on the life of current and former football players.
The reaction to all these findings over the last few years has varied from player to player, but as it stands now, the Vikings have two players that are weighing their futures as NFL players because of the concussions they have sustained.
Leslie Frazier recently indicated that guard Steve Hutchinson has had a hard time shaking the effects of a concussion suffered on December 18th against New Orleans. That concussion caused Hutchinson to finish the season on the injured reserve for his second consecutive season.
“I’m hoping that things will get better soon for him with the concussions for sure,” Leslie Frazier said last week. “That’s something that I’m sure he and his family will discuss, what his future is and how much longer he wants to play professional football.”
Hutchinson has been privately telling teammates that his plan was to play out his current contract, which will expire after next season, and then retire. Hutchinson’s contract will pay him $7 million in 2012, has a no-trade clause, and at age 34 one can’t help but wonder if the Vikings wouldn’t view an early retirement as a positive thing for the regressing veteran.
Leslie Frazier sounds as though he is happy to have Hutchinson, who lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and two children, return for another year.
“He’s still a guy who can play and be a positive addition to your football team,” Frazier said. “He’s got some decisions that he’ll have to make after the season is over.”
As of yesterday, however, any decisions regarding the team’s commitment to Hutchinson is out of Frazier’s hands and placed squarely in the lap of newly appointed G.M. Rick Spielman.
Unlike Hutchinson, safety Husain Abdullah is set to become an unrestricted free agent at age 26, but his concussion issues have him contemplating whether or not he even should continue to play in the NFL.
“I definitely want to play,” Abdullah recently said. “I’ve been playing (football) since I was 8-years old. To have it taken away from me when I can still play that would really hurt. … But if the doctor comes and tells me something I don’t want to hear, then definitely I’ve got to start putting the family first.”
“As of right now, since I feel good, it’s not overly concerning,” he said, “but at the same time you look at all the former players and what they’re going through now and you’re starting to see a lot more stuff pop up about concussions.”
“Even in other sports. I’ve been watching hockey as well, seeing their stuff. I’ll just try to find out more information about it and see how it is for me. I know a lot of people have (concussions) and some people it affects greatly, some people it doesn’t. I’ll just try to figure out how it’s affecting me and then move forward.”
The 2008 undrafted safety out of Washington State has gradually climbed his way to the top of the Vikings depth chart, but his concussions landed him on the injured reserve and halted contract talks that had been taking place between him and the Vikings.
Abdullah may have to decide if he is still going to play professional football, but he has made it clear that if he is playing he wants to be a Viking.
“Of course,” he said. “They gave me a shot when nobody else did, so I’m definitely a Vikings fan and I’d like to be a Viking as long as they’ll have me.”