Concerns send Westbrook to specialists

Why is Brian Westbrook traveling to Pittsburgh to see a neurological specialist?

It’s not uncommon in the NFL to have players travel for medical opinions – with the consent and sometimes suggestion of the team – to see renowned specialists in their fields.

As examples, for issues with the back, the consulting doctor is often Bob Watkins, a spine surgeon in Los Angeles. For foot consults, the referred specialist is usually Bob Anderson in Charlotte, N.C.

Just as spine and foot issues require specialization beyond the realm of a team’s orthopedic care, clearly so does the brain. With this issue still percolating after congressional hearings, and high-profile players such as the Eagles’ Westbrook suffering multiple concussions, there’s increased scrutiny and, thankfully, increased sensitivity on the part of team doctors, trainers and front office staff in allowing players time to heal -- and time to gather as much information as possible.

After suffering two concussions in two games, Westbrook will visit a neuropsychologist, Mark Lovell, and a neurosurgeon, Joseph Maroon, who will then consult with the Eagles’ medical staff. Maroon has previously consulted on head trauma for Troy Aikman, Steve Young and Bill Romanowski.

Westbrook will be evaluated to determine if he has returned to his baseline and evaluate his short- and long-term options. The Eagles are doing the right thing in taking this out of the hands of coach Andy Reid; this is an issue in the hands of the medical staff and its consulting team.

Why would ESPN need an extension with Jon Gruden for him to continue as an analyst on Monday Night Football?

Gruden is a whopping three months into his broadcasting commitment with ESPN, yet he’s signing an extension? Clearly, there’s more here than meets the eye. Perhaps the original contract was, shall we say, fluid, allowing Gruden to keep his options open. Or perhaps ESPN believed that by trumpeting an extension with Gruden, his name would not come up in such speculation.

Well, uh, no. Contract extension or not, Gruden's name will continue to surface in the annual coaching hot-stove league coming soon. This extension will not quell talk; ESPN knows that.

What will go a longer way toward quieting any coaching rumor about Gruden would be an on-air statement from Gruden that he's committed to broadcasting and is not interested in coaching again. Given that chance, Gruden told Peter King: “I probably will coach again. I miss the opportunity to coach players, to help them get better. I really miss the competition.”

A definitive statement that he will not coach in 2010 or 2011 will not end speculation, but it would up the ante for Gruden to face the playing of that clip (maybe even on ESPN) should he ditch the television gig for coaching.

Why is Titans owner Bud Adams subject to a hefty $250,000 fine for his actions Sunday?

This is a case of commissioner discipline for an owner rather than a player. Roger Goodell was selected by, works for and has his salary paid by team owners. In fining Adams for his double-bird -- caught on camera for the world to see -- he was fining one of his employers.

The amount is sufficiently large -- $250,000 in player dollars is about the amount of a signing bonus for a low fourth-round pick -- to serve as a deterrent to any other owner who may have a yearning for some dubious behavior. There are a probably some owners who saw the video of Adams and said, “Thank God no camera was around when I (fill in blank).”

Goodell's fine is now precedent for treatment of questionable behavior by those who pay the players (and the commissioner).

Why is owner John Mara complaining about the Giants’ Thanksgiving Day game at Denver?

Mara feels the travel affects the competitive balance of the game. As a longstanding member of the powerful NFL Competition Committee, Mara likely complained during one of these meetings, without the response he was looking for.

A straightforward solution would have the six participating teams take their bye weeks this week -- as opposed to earlier in the season (the Giants’ bye was last week) -- which would allow them 11 days prior to the Thanksgiving game and 10 days until their next game. Perhaps that’s too simple, but the teams would welcome that schedule.

Why did the signing of Terrell Owens have an impact on the firing of Dick Jauron in Buffalo?

Owens felt it necessary to tweet that he was not responsible for Jauron’s ouster, although he took a shot at another head coach, Todd Haley in Kansas City, with a later tweet. He just can’t help himself.

Signing Owens to a one-year, $6.5-million deal – Owens had no other similar options -- raised the stakes for the Bills and Jauron. With the boldness of that move and the attention grab it received, Jauron could not wallow.

I've met Jauron a few times – he was in Green Bay before I got there and left a lasting impression -- and interviewed him to coach the Barcelona Dragons 17 years ago. He is as nice and respectful a man as there is, bar none. There’s no one who doesn't like Dick Jauron (even T.O.). We at the Post wish him the best.

And for my pet peeve Why of the Week…

As concern for head traumas in football rises, why do we have images such as the opening on Monday Night Football in which animated helmets crash violently into each other and explode?

Let’s be smart here. This is an issue that has drawn the attention of Congress and is finally receiving attention with potential changes about how teams treat head trauma and brain injury. There’s no need to further glamorize high-impact collisions. ESPN and the NFL should revise that opening.

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