Neither the team nor the player have confirmed that Kris Dielman will retire, but the 31-year-old Chargers offensive lineman — an All-Pro in 2008 and 2009 — has reportedly been told by doctors that the prudent move would be to walk away from the game.
If that comes to fruition, Dielman could sadly become the new poster boy for the effect concussions are having on modern-day professional football.
That’s because the last image of Dielman on a football field will likely be one which exemplifies the NFL’s archaic approach to head injuries.
Don’t try to find video of the incident, because I searched thoroughly and it appears the league has scrubbed it from its website and YouTube. That’s not surprising, because the NFL should be downright embarrassed by what happened during the fourth quarter of Dielman’s last game.
Against the Jets in Week 7, Dielman was exhibiting the classic signs of a concussion. He appeared woozy and disoriented, and waved off officials that were coming to check on him. The team let him stay on the field without performing tests, and the officials looked the other way.
Hours later, Dielman suffered a seizure on the team’s flight back to California.
Would that have happened had Dielman been allowed back in the game? And why was he flying in such poor condition?
More questions: How could the Chargers’ doctors allow Dielman to keep playing? And why in the world would referee Ron Winter let him wave officials off despite clearing exhibiting concussion-related symptoms?
The resulting outrage forced the NFL to take yet another step toward preventing these situations from happening in the future. Now, independent neurologists must sign off on players with possible concussions before they can re-enter games. And team doctors and officials have been reminded publicly to watch more diligently for such injuries.
But that doesn’t do much for Dielman, who may have to walk away in or around his football prime as a result of this preventable incident. Now, the question is whether he’ll take legal action against the team and/or league to extract some of the millions of dollars Dielman might claim were left on the table upon his impending retirement.
In fact, based on what doctors are telling him, Dielman would be crazy not to sue. The only real question might be whether he launches his own lawsuit or becomes one of the most prominent faces of an existing class-action suit that already involves over 300 former players.