Reporting John Shumway
PITTSBUGH (KDKA) — It’s the highlight of watching Dick LeBeau’s crew go to work – seeing Troy Polamalu’s hair flying as he hunts down his prey.
He often appears to fly in for the kill.
“It’s a muscle memory type of thing – this is the way he’s been playing since probably high school or before,” Dr. Jack Wilberger, Jr., chairman of Allegheny General Hospital’s department of neurosurgery, said.
Dr. Wilberger says that style comes with a price – potential concussions.
“You watch Troy through the years he’s been here – he’s done that how many times?” Dr. Wilberger said. “I mean, he launches himself time after time after time and either has no consequences from it or they’re so mild that he doesn’t tell anybody and nobody notices.”
But Sunday night everybody noticed. You couldn’t miss it as he fell limp to the turf.
“It scares me that he’s not going to be playing too much longer,” Ron Perretta, of Altoona, said.
Polamalu looked fine on the sideline but the rules of the game have changed. The refs are empowered to watch out for potential concussion issues, so teams are cautious.
“There’s such a spotlight on this that they weren’t going to take any chances of putting him back in and getting accused of taking advantage of the player,” Dr. Wilberger said.
In fact, he believes the league is bordering on overreaction. After all, he points out lineman butt heads every play and every athlete’s tolerance is different.
“You know we saw Sidney Crosby take two hits and it put him out for almost a year and we see some people take 50 hits and they act like they’re normal and tests are normal,” he said.