Concussions in football are always a serious matter, especially when they affect a player early in their career.
In his rookie season, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth has sustained two concussions in the last three weeks, the latest one this past Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. As a consequence, Freiermuth entered and currently remains in concussion protocol.
As essential as he has been for the Steelers offense, particularly in the red zone, the constant contact he has taken from opposing defenders has already taken its toll. Though it is acknowledged as part of the nature of the game, his long-term future in the NFL can already be perceived as questionable at this point.
Prior to being drafted, Freiermuth had no history of concussions during his time at Penn State. The most serious injury he sustained during that period was a torn labrum in his junior year. Aside from this, Freiermuth can be said to have been more fortunate than others who have played in this position.
Freiermuth is not the only Steelers tight end whose career was cut short due to concussions. In 2016, the team signed Ladarius Green, a talented tight end from the Los Angeles Chargers organization (formerly the San Diego Chargers). After spending the start of the season on the team's PUP list, he was finally activated for their game against the Dallas Cowboys at that time. After a breakout performance against the New York Giants, he sustained a concussion the following week against the Cincinnati Bengals on a 28-yard catch-and-run. This would ultimately be the last play of his NFL career.
The hope in this case is that Freiermuth does not suffer Green's fate, but these concussions should be a major cause for concern. Though they are making their push to make the playoffs, the idea of shutting him down for the season should not be ignored. As much as one would like to hope for the best, his next concussion could end up being the one that ends his career. Would it be worth risking his long-term health?