Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Should Tebow Play: A Contrarian's View

Interesting take on the "Should Tim Tebow Play?" debate from Gainesville Sun beat writer Robbie Andreu, who views any prescription about whether or not Tim Tebow should play as media folks playing "quack."

He's not wrong about the columnists who seem to arbitrarily be ordering Tebow to sit out the season or sit out X number of games.

I agree with Andreu that the decision is best left up to Tebow's doctors -- or are they the Florida football team's doctors? (One and the same, although I'm not sure whether they ultimately serve the university or the athlete. Would make for some good...well, now: Localized beat reporting!)

However, I'm not sure that discussion of whether Tebow should play in the LSU game merits Andreu's derision.

It is hard to fathom that Tebow could be "100 percent" recovered (Andreu's standard) in 14 days, especially given the current consensus of thought from experts on brain injuries, including a story in Andreu's own Sun, citing expert Dr. Cantu.

Even if Florida's doctors clear Tebow to play -- and it is impossible to know the medical inputs that go into that decision, let alone the non-medical ones -- there is no way that they will be "100 percent" sure.

Have you ever been to the doctor -- your own doctor -- and engaged them in a question of whether or not you should or shouldn't have a procedure or do something?

They never -- never -- offer anything with 100 percent certainty. Ever. It's not just CYA -- it's because there are limits to what doctors can know.

That goes even more for brain injuries, where the science is constantly revising what we know... almost entirely indicating that things are WORSE than you think, that people with brain injuries need MORE time not less, that returning too soon (whatever "too soon" might be) is MORE risky, not less.

I am not implying we doubt Florida's doctors -- personally, I am very quick to treat what my doctor recommends (again: "recommends," because it's never a certainty) as gospel.

I am sure Florida's docs wouldn't let Tebow participate if he wasn't as recovered as possible (a phrasing I prefer over "100 percent"). I am sure that Urban Meyer would never put rushing Tebow back over Tebow's short-term and long-term health.

(As has been covered here extensively, that is a competitively dumb thing to do -- and it's unclear whether a concussed Tebow, 14 days after his concussion, gives Florida a better chance to beat LSU than Brantley.)

And I would hope that beyond the physical tests that Tebow must undergo that defy any "gaming" by the patient -- earnest as that gaming might be -- that Tebow would do what is in both his and the team's best interests by not claiming he is in better shape than he really is, just to get back on the field -- just to participate in this huge game. (As pointed out here and in the Yahoo column, Tebow's inspiration and leadership can be just as effective from the sidelines, while his teammates are on the field. Particularly in real-time mentoring of Brantley.)

But I do think it is fair for media, fans, medical experts -- whoever -- to weigh in on the very murky (and nowhere near "100 percent" certain) decisions over whether Tim Tebow SHOULD play against LSU.


  1. Dan, if we assign ourselves (or our doctors) the task of making all decisions based on perfect knowledge, we're really setting ourselves up for a false dichotomy that doesn’t make much sense.

    Yes, doctors make recommendations (or prescriptions, as the case may be) based on a certain amount of not-infallible assumptions, but I’d say the degree of distance from “100 percent” is a different thing when we’re talking about the considered judgment of a medical professional versus, with all due respect, a guy with a blog.

    The point here is that the doctors are the ones who will figure this out, and Andreu makes the case quite capably that all this other stuff is just nonsense. In today’s Internet age, we get a lot of stuff thrown out there by writers who get paid for production, and only secondarily for quality.

    The thing that’s most irritating about all the articles and blog posts that outside sources have generated about what “should” be done about Tebow vs. LSU (or the rest of the Gators’ slate of opponents) is that they arbitrarily assign a timeframe for his recovery. Concussions are highly individualized and extremely complex injuries, and the only people who can make a judgment with any degree of accuracy are the doctors tasked with looking after Tim Tebow’s brain.

    Not Gregg Doyel, not Dan Shanoff, and not Robbie Andreu. The difference between these three is that only one of these guys understands that he’s not in a position to diagnose and prescribe treatment for a patient who’s not under his care.

  2. People like to think they know what is right, but the only ones that do know, to a certain degree, are the medical staff tending to Tim, his coach, himself, his parents, and most importantly, God.

    The best thing we can do, and millions are, including Tim himself, is pray for the best for him. Pray that the right decision is come to, and he lives a long, happy life.

  3. As I wrote in the comments in the Andreu post: "But here’s the main thing: Is it annoying and wrong for all of these writers/bloggers/commenters to play doctor? Sure. But it’s even worse when they start to demonize Urban Meyer and make him out to be a coach that will play Tebow even if it’s not in his best interest, which is patently ridiculous and disgraceful."

    You wrote: "I am sure that Urban Meyer would never put rushing Tebow back over Tebow's short-term and long-term health."

    To be fair to you, you've stayed pretty consistent on this issue except for one statement:

    "But the genius ends if Tebow actually plays"

    Unfortunately the same can't really be said for other pundits.

  4. I think it is simple..... If the doctors clear him..... then he should SUIT UP! But let the Gators carry him for once...aka ....he rest on the side lines unless it seems that they need him!! If they need him then he goes in long as the doctor clear him.... but if the Gators can win just one game without Tim...and lets be honest even on the Sidelines TIM will be driving his team... i cant imagine him just sitting on the bench.. he will be yell and cheering and getting the crowd worked up..but that would let him have one more week to rest and recoup....only send him in if they NEED him!