â†µIn a taped interview that aired before kickoff of Sunday night's Steelers-Ravens game, Hines Ward told Bob Costas that the Steelers locker room was split "50-50" on whether Ben Roethlisberger should have played through a lingering effects of a head injury suffered the week before. While by Sunday that argument had been rendered moot with Big Ben not being cleared by neurologists, Ward suggested that other players often lie to doctors in order to be able to play and that some teammates questioned whether Ben could not have done the same yesterday. â†µ
â†µâ‡¥"This game is almost like a playoff game. It's almost a must-win. I could see some players or teammates questioning, like 'It's just a concussion. I've played with a concussion before,'" Ward told Costas in an interview taped Saturday at the team's suburban-Baltimore hotel as a prelude to the Steelers-Ravens game last night at M&T Bank Stadium and on NBC. â†µâ†µWard obviously let frustration get the better of him. The interview with Costas was conducted on Saturday and Ward told reporters after the game that it wasn't until that morning that teammates were informed that Ben would not be playing after he had practiced all week. Frustration aside, Ward's comments are doubly dangerous to the league's efforts at combating laxity on the severity of concussions, as well as solidarity in the locker room. How is the NFL able present itself as being cautious about players' long-term well-being when it has its own stars admitting publicly that they know they can game the system and go any given week no matter their condition? While it might be difficult to discipline Ward for his candor in this case, I would expect the league may be asking him, perhaps forcefully, to join in their efforts to change the culture of the league in regards to personal safety. â†µ
â†µAs for the Steelers, Ward's mention of a rift in the locker room over Roethlisberger's status - choosing not simply to leave it at his own views - will sow a lot of public speculation on whether the Steelers have an issue with team chemistry, whether or not that is actually true. For that also, Ward has to heap a lot of blame on himself today. â†µâ†µ
â†µUPDATE: Ward has attempted to "clarify" (or retract) his comments today. â†µâ†µ
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