Arizona Cardinals’ defensive end J.J. Watt posted an alarming Tweet Sunday morning just hours before kickoff of the team’s game on the east coast against the Carolina Panthers. Watt stated that some news about him had been leaked and was going to be reported today. Immediately, most who caught this tweet were probably racking their brains and thinking, ok, what happened? From there, Watt went on to explain the following.
“I went into A-Fib on Wednesday, had my heart shocked back into rhythm on Thursday, and I’m playing today. That’s it.”
Wow! I don’t think anyone expected to hear that about Watt. Everyone is relieved that Watt is out of the hospital and seemingly “alright,” but the fact that he plans to play in this game today only four days after having his heart shocked back into rhythm is scary.
If the Cardinals won’t do it, someone from the league office or the NFLPA needs to step in and force him to sit this game out. After what we’ve seen in the past week, with Tua Tagovailoa suffering two concussions in less than five days, Watt needs to be held out of Arizona’s game today.
No, Watt didn’t sustain an injury to his head, but his heart was shocked so it would work properly. Even if Watt was cleared by his own independent doctor, precautions should be taken just in case. Yes, it’s football, we know that, and everybody is tough. You have to be tough to make it in the NFL, but these players also need protection from themselves regarding their health. It doesn’t matter if atrial fibrillation isn’t “considered” too serious. Take extra precautionary measures and be careful.
Last week, during coverage of the Tua incidents, multiple former NFL players were asked about head injuries along with others and if they’d ever lied to get back into a game. The answer was a resounding YES. Former Patriots and Chargers All-Pro safety Rodney Harrison went on Dan Patrick’s show and admitted to lying about head injuries and others. Harrison says he lied every time he had an injury to continue playing.
Patrick also told a story about Steelers legend Hines Ward grabbing his ankle after getting his “bell rung” because he didn’t want to come out of a game. It doesn’t matter if it’s the head or the heart. If it involves either, that player should be further evaluated and forced to sit out a game. We can’t continue to gamble with these guys’ lives.
If Watt ends up playing at 4:05 p.m., it could be the biggest story of the day on the heels of what happened with Tagovailoa over the last week. Left up to them, NFL players will choose to play virtually every time. The league doesn’t want bad PR, yet they continue to invite it at every turn.
The NFL is too concerned about trivial matters like players celebrating or not wearing the “correct” socks. The league fined Lions running back Jamaal Williams for a touchdown dance last week that may have been a little too provocative for their liking. A player can be put in harm’s way after clearly looking concussed and allowed to play a few days later, but heavens forbid a black player offends their audience by swiveling his hips after scoring, à la Ravishing Rick Rude. The NFL needs to be more concerned with the well-being of its players and protecting them as they claim.
Hopefully, someone steps in and talks some sense into Watt or takes the decision out of his hands.