Football is a dangerous game. There's no way around it.
So when we discuss these players battling through injury to play in a sport which may (or may not but definitely seems to) cause long term health defects, we do need to have a level of sensitivity. And Leighton Vander Esch's situation seems to require that sensitivity right now.
Vander Esch missed seven games last season, including the final six of the year due to a nagging neck injury. He's had these neck issues for a couple of seasons now dating back to college, but they apparently had grown so severe that offseason surgery was required.
Football is already a wildly physical sport, and playing linebacker only emphasizes that physicality further. Vander Esch obviously needs to put his long term health above all here, but it is fair to wonder what his future in football really looks like right now.
Yesterday on local Dallas sports radio, Bryan Broaddus said that he had been “hearing some concerns” about Leighton Vander Esch. The third year linebacker is no doubt an awesome player on the field, so Bryan's comments are clearly linked to the medical side of things.
Former ITS colleague and current Blogging the Boys writer Connor Livesay dropped the quote on Twitter and watched the world burn. But the Cowboys themselves talked about Vander Esch's recovery at the combine this week.
The official team site released an update on Vander Esch Tuesday morning, quoting Stephen Jones as saying “The feedback is good. We feel good about it.” Jones also added that Vander Esch will have “limitations” up until training camp when they can hopefully “turn him loose.”
I'm far from a doctor, but the initial vagueness and increasing severity of the news around the injury certainly felt weird.
Hopefully Leighton Vander Esch can continue to heal and be ready for a long and prosperous football career, but his workload for the 2020 season is still in question.