Eagles right tackle Winston Justice is writing a weekly column for the Daily News this season. His column appears Wednesdays.
DURING THE game against the Texans last Thursday, I was hit in the left knee and had to come out in the fourth quarter. I knew we didn't want to stop the clock so I quickly hopped off the field and King Dunlap was ready to get in there for me.
I initially thought I would just be able to walk it off on the sideline. This was the first time I haven't been able to finish a game, ever. The whole experience was new to me.
A lot of people don't know that NFL stadiums are equipped with X-ray machines. This is helpful so doctors and trainers can immediately diagnose injuries. When I got hurt on Thursday night, I went in right away and got an X-ray.
Typically, in order to get more conclusive results, players go to the hospital the day after the game to get an MRI. I was nervous sitting there in the waiting room because I had no idea what was wrong and I did not want an injury to force me to miss a game.
Luckily for me, the MRI showed there was no structural damage, but I do have some bruises and strains that I'm going to have to deal with over the next few weeks.
Fortunately, the win against the Texans meant the team had off until today. But if you are injured like me, you have to go in for treatment every day.
Every morning I got up early to head over to the NovaCare Complex for my date with Rick Burkholder and Co. (the team trainers). Treatment includes, ice, stim, the boot - which squeezes your leg to get the inflammation to go down - and a whole bunch of other things the trainers do while you sit there on the doctor's table. I don't think any player really knows the terminology or what exactly is going on with these apparatuses, but they do help!
I did a little research with the NFL Players Association and I found out that as of yesterday, 250 players are on injured reserve. There have been a total of 365 players placed on IR at some point since the beginning of the 2010 league year, many of whom have done injury settlements and have since been released.
These statistics hit me hard!
It seems crazy that it's Week 13 and we have more than 300 players out of the game. This is a brutal sport that we enjoy playing, and I cannot imagine playing two extra games in a season. Watching Ellis Hobbs (neck injury vs. Giants) get hurt really hit home for me; every game could be our last.
It's getting down to crunch time. Every week, since last year, I have heard things about the imminent lockout and how the NFL might not be back in 2011. Many of the players, myself included, are relying on our union to represent us and come to a fair agreement for everyone, while making sure that the players' health is kept at the forefront.
I know I don't want to be a 50-year-old man with dementia because I took too many hits over the course of my career, and extra games could add to this reality. As players, we don't frequently question the business or the medical side of the game; we are just here to play. We've placed our trust and confidence in a team of elected officials at the NFLPA to do what's best for the players and the game.
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