Steelers chairman Dan Rooney with Isaac Redman at training camp in Latrobe in August.
By Bob Smizik Special to the Post-Gazette
Is telling the truth a crime? Steelers running back Isaac Redman might soon find out.
In an interview with Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette, Redman acknowledged that he lied -- fibbed? -- to doctors in order to get himself back into the game against the Cincinnati Bengals Sept. 16.
Redman was diagnosed with a possible concussion on the opening kickoff of the game. Any time that happens a player must go through a battery of tests to prove he is capable of returning to the game. Redman did that and played in the second quarter and the remainder of the game.
He admitted that he was able to fool the doctors with his responses to questions/tests to determine his game readiness.
"I had a concussion," Redman said Wednesday. "I was pretty much out of it the rest of the game. I just tried to go back in."
And how did he do that? "I said I was all right."
As a journalist, I've always appreciated the athlete who will willing to speak his mind with candor. And as a private citizen, almost as often I've said to myself, "This guy really should shut up."
Such is the case with Redman. He did no one -- particularly himself -- any good by admitting his skullduggery. You think maybe the next time Redman shows concussion symptoms the doctors will easily allow him back on the field? Not likely.
More to the point, does the NFL make an example of Redman's tale telling. As is well known, player safety is the passion of commissioner Roger Goodell. He'll go to almost any extreme -- except using the 18-game schedule as a bargaining chip -- to achieve his goals. He cannot be happy with Redman fibbing his way past the evaluation protocols the league has established.
If Redman got away with it, other players also may try to fool the doctors Goodell is not averse to taking on unpopular causes, which punishing Redman would be.
Actually, all Redman deserves is a firm reprimand, either from the league or from the team.
Redman's decision, as any schoolboy would know, was not a wise one. Everyone knows concussion can be far more dangerous than the temporary headache they might bring on. Redman was messing with his future well-being.
Not that there isn't a degree of understanding as to why Redman did what he did. He was the longest of long shots to make the NFL coming out of Bowie State, a Division III school, as a free agent in 2009. He's the type of player who is fighting for his job every training camp. It's somewhat understandable he would put his personal safety behind keeping his paycheck.
Redman might have done the NFL a favor. Maybe it needs to beef up its exams and/or make it more difficult for players to return to the game. But what it needs more than anything to make this player safety issue work is honesty from the players.