Jets wide receiver Laveranues Coles knows what it’s like to suffer bone-jarring hits. He knows what it’s like to be pounded into the turf. He even knows the inevitable pain his body exhibits on Monday mornings. Yet if there’s one feeling that the Jets’ nine-year wide receiver has become all too accustomed to, it’s the pain that comes with suffering a concussion. Coles has suffered three concussions in the past 22 months, with the most recent occurring during the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s 16-13 overtime loss to the Raiders. For any player who’s ever been fortunate enough to play the physically taxing game that is football, such a statistic is unfortunate.
But even though the phrase “concussion” is uttered, Coles continues to make his way back to the field. The Jets’ wide receiver re-entered Sunday’s game after suffering the head injury and then was back on the field today practicing with his teammates. In fact, one question resonates from Coles’ speedy trips back to the practice field…why?
“There’s in-game protocol and there’s prior to the game protocol,” Jets Head Coach Eric Mangini told reporters today. “That’s why we have the doctors and the trainers on the sidelines. They make those decisions. Those aren’t coaching decisions.”
If Coles should learn from anyone, it’s former Jets’ wide receiver Wayne Chrebet, who suffered at least six concussions over his 11-year career and was forced to retire at the age of 32 because of it. There was never any doubt Chrebet had the talent and the determination to succeed on Sundays, but the concussions got the best of him. Coles should take note.
Coles has made his name being one of the league’s toughest receivers. Coles’ 2007 season ended prematurely due to an ankle injury and missed most of training camp and the entirety of the preseason with a nagging hamstring injury. But as Coles has done often throughout his career, he’s fought through those injuries. Concussions can be a different story.
As important as Coles is to the Jets’ passing attack, the Jets should think twice about Coles trying to fight through this injury. That’s tough for any warrior to do, but across from the Jets this Sunday will be the Kansas City Chiefs. No game should be listed as a gimme as the Jets’ proved in last week’s loss to the Raiders, but it would take a major collapse for the Jets to lose to the banged-up, talent-starven Chiefs. They’re going to need a healthy Coles for remainder of this season if they have any hopes of returning to the playoffs. Why risk it?