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Ex-Giant Carson says Vick should sit

Michael Vick said he's playing and is likely to start at quarterback for the Eagles against the Giants Sunday, just seven days after suffering a concussion.

But although Vick has been cleared to play by the Eagles' medical staff and an independent neurologist, as required under the NFL's newly strengthened concussion policy, not everyone is convinced that returning so quickly is the best thing.

"I'm going to be watching him to see how he responds after he gets hit," said former Giants linebacker and Hall of Famer Harry Carson, who suffered multiple concussions in the course of his career and has been diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. "I'm sure he'll go out there and do well, but if he doesn't and gets hit the right way, there's no telling what might happen."

Chris Nowinski, co-founder and president of the Sports Legacy Institute and a co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine, also doesn't think Vick should be playing so soon.

"Frankly, even from a fan's perspective and even with someone as good as Michael Vick, I would have been happier to see them err on the side of caution," Nowinski said. "Another concussion right now is the worst-case scenario. Michael Vick could be the Sidney Crosby of the NFL."

Pittsburgh Penguins star Crosby hasn't played a game since January, when he suffered two concussions four days apart. Since then, he has suffered from post-concussion syndrome.

Vick is the first marquee NFL player to suffer a concussion since the league strengthened its concussion policy this season. Vick was injured in the third quarter of the Eagles' loss to Atlanta when he was spun around by a defender and then slammed into teammate Todd Herremens. Vick was not allowed back in the game after failing the NFL's new baseline test on the sideline.

Vick did not practice until Thursday, though he did sit in on meetings and go through morning walk-throughs earlier.

As per league rules, he saw an independent neurologist this past week and received approval to play. He was listed as questionable, but Vick told reporters in Philadelphia on Friday that "there is no reason to think" he won't play.

"He goes through the process," Eagles coach Andy Reid told reporters Friday. "If he's OK on game day, then he plays on game day."

Eagles athletic trainer Rick Burkholder told reporters Friday that Vick has done very well with the two impact tests he's had this week. Burkholder said that barring any setbacks or symptoms, Vick should play Sunday.

Nowinski thinks there are plenty of reasons that he shouldn't play, at least for one more week.

"If Michael Vick knew what I knew, he would not be back out there on Sunday," said Nowinski, who suffered multiple concussions when he was a football player at Harvard and as a pro wrestler. "We have to be humbled by the fact that the tools we have right now are weak when it comes to determining when the window of vulnerability is over after a concussion. In my world, and with the guys that I deal with, there is no shame in erring on the side of caution and making sure you don't get that second hit."

Nowinski thinks the NFL is doing "a much better job" of determining when it's safe to play. But as the NFL notes in its policy, a critical element of managing concussions is "candid reporting of players of their symptoms."

Carson said it is the nature of football players to want to get back on the field at all costs, which might lead a player to not be completely forthcoming about his symptoms. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, for example, has admitted that he purposely tanked the baseline test taken before the season to get a low score so he could get back on the field if he suffered a concussion. Carson believes that the Eagles' medical staff needs to keep all that in mind.

"Back when I played, we would suffer concussions in practice and get back on the field," Carson said. "Now I see guys who are having all kinds of neurological problems because they played through a concussion. Hopefully Michael Vick won't at some point have to deal with some of the same issues."

New York Sports