Shea McClellin’s concussion history a cause for concern

Shea McClellin

Phil Emery stated that the Bears were going to avoid players with an injury history.  The Bears however drafted a player with an injury risk that automatically puts up a red flag as having injury concerns.  Shea McClellin the DE from Boise State suffered two concussions while playing for the Broncos.  The first he suffered in 2009 and then a second one he suffered in 2010.  When I asked McClellin about the concussions on twitter I received this response.

“never (sic) had 3, one very mild one and another one in 2010 changed my helmet last year and haven’t had a problem since.”

There was a report that came out during the evaluation process that McClellin had three concussions, which he disputes with his tweet.  The concern however is multiple concussions in a two year period given the information I found on the website for neurology.  Listed under:

Factors that may increase your risk of a concussion include:

Participating in a high risk sport, such as football, hockey, soccer or other contact sport; the risk is further increased if there’s a lack of proper safety equipment and supervision.

Most concerning in McClellin’s case:  Having had a previous concussion.

McClellin has had at least two concussions as a football player at Boise State and as a result is at a much higher risk for a repeat concussion in the future.

This revelation seems to fly directly in the face of what Emery stated during his pre-draft news conference earlier this week.  Although Emery seemed to give a hint of the player the Bears were targeting at 19 with his quote from the conference.

Emery stated in the article from the Chicago Tribune,  “Guys can get flagged for certain things,” he said. “We’ll go through a process where we might … we call them tilts and flips. We’ll tilt a player on the board, we’ll turn his card going south a little bit if they’re in that risk area. Usually we move those players to the right of the column. The players that are clean are to the left. We’ll flip them all the way over if the risk is too high, if their medical grade puts them in a situation where we feel the risk is too high, meaning we would not pick them. If they’re tilted, we’re going to have a lot of discussion before we would move forward with that player.”

Concussions are part of the medical process. NFL teams are taking a close look at head injuries for players at the college level because of the scrutiny being paid to concussions.

“That’s part of our research,” Emery said. “Any time a head injury, knocked out of the game, headache, any of those words are used, we get it down in our injury incident report so that our physicians can follow up with the proper questions or proper screening and medical tests for that situation. The schools are very forthcoming but you always use that data that you’ve collected yourself and with interviews with a player.

“Sometimes, players are much more revealing in the process leading up to the draft than they might even be with their school officials about issues such as concussions because they want to make sure they’re forthcoming on everything and so you gather all of that information and you evaluate it and yes, we’re very conscious of that as we are with any other injury.”

Whether Emery was directly talking about McClellin cannot be determined but he could have been convinced by McClellin’s straight talk during his pre-draft visit about his past concussion history to not “tilt” him towards the risk category.

The undeniable fact however is McClellin will forever be at a risk for another concussion during his football career.  That risk will also be higher than a player who hasn’t suffered a concussion in his career, something that Bears fans will without question be watching as McClellin’s career in Chicago moves forward.