Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Herzlich Protected by Concussion Guidelines

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Herzlich Protected by Concussion Guidelines

Article excerpt

EAST RUTHERFORD -- It started with a headache.

Mark Herzlich sat in the Giants' locker room two weeks ago, in the raw moments after their devastating loss to Jacksonville.

And something was just not right.

A 21-point lead had evaporated. A season of lows had reached its nadir against the lowly Jaguars. But this was different.

About 20 minutes after the game, Herzlich told trainer Ronnie Barnes that something was wrong with him. He just wasn't sure what.

"I just didn't feel right," he said.

The linebacker soon would be diagnosed with his first concussion. It would sideline him for nine days, preventing him from traveling with the team last week before its victory over Tennessee.

Herzlich immediately entered the NFL's concussion management protocol. It included daily monitoring, examinations by an independent neurologist, cognitive testing and an escalating exercise program before he was cleared.

He experienced the way the league now handles brain injury in the era of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a multimillion dollar settlement with thousands of former players and the tragic deaths of Junior Seau, Mike Webster and many others.

The experience was reassuring and unsettling.

"It's not fun," Herzlich said Thursday, standing in front of his locker. "Mine was more mild than others, but I can assure you it's not something that you would want to get.

"There's so little knowledge of what actually happens and what the actual effects are for the future that it's a little scary."

Herzlich's story illustrates the significant about-face the NFL has taken in managing brain injury compared to a decade ago, when Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet was forced into retirement after suffering at least a dozen concussions.

"I didn't know what it was going to feel like, what it should feel like," said Herzlich, 27. "That's the tricky part. You basically have to feel it: Am I right or not right?"

It wasn't until Monday, more than a week after suffering the concussion, that he did feel right. …

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