When I heard the reports out of Los Angeles telling how the LA Chargers team doctor errantly administered a pain killing shot that punctured the lung of starting QB Tyrod Taylor, minutes before game-time, I had a sick feeling for everyone involved. It brought to the forefront of my mind a lot of pregame locker-room experiences that I have had over the years. It also was another reminder of how competitive professional athletes are, and the extent they will go to, for their teams, families and teammates, just to do their jobs.
Let’s look at the repercussions this event has on the people involved. Obviously, Tyrod pays the highest price because of the fact that he now is dealing with a whole set of non-football medical circumstances, a punctured lung and everything that comes with that. It would be reckless of me to speculate on the legal ramifications but my guess is there will be none. It's normal and somewhat routine for doctors to explain all the ramifications (as remote as they are) before administering a shot and the player signs off or agrees to share the risk of a procedure such as this. These are fairly routine procedures that happen way more often than most fans would ever expect. What is not routine is these are not little needles and when you mix in that alcohol/sterile smell of a clinic setting, the whole environment can feel kind of unreal. I have seen multiple players and more steel shining before certain games than I care to remember.
The timeline for recovery from this specific injury is anywhere from 2-6 weeks. That’s what makes the story even more bleak from Tyrod’s case. He loses his starting QB job and the opportunity he had worked for and won, coming out of training camp. I’m sure he has incentives in his contract that would pay him for far ranging things from, dressing for a game, to “play time” percentages, to TD passes and even QBR at the end of the year (all will have a min to qualify). So, not only does he lose health-wise but, more than likely, financially as well. In fact, if his replacement Justin Herbert plays like he did last week, you may never hear of Tyrod playing another snap for the Chargers. Another example of life not being fair. Needless to say, this error might affect his whole career. My guess is this is why you heard Head Coach Anthony Lynn say “When Tyrod is healthy, he’s our QB”. He has a longer history with Tyrod than anyone in the building so I took that as a statement of loyalty. Even though it may not turn out to be true, I get it. Bad deal, any way you look at it.
Let’s look at it from the team side. The Chargers have, for several years, been trying to put behind them a reputation of sub-par medical care and questionable practices and diagnoses. They changed team doctors in the last few years but only after the NFLPA, and its leader DeMaurice Smith, in 2013 publically shared concerns of previous malpractice judgements brought against their team doctor at the time. A new team of medical specialists were eventually brought in but the damage had been done. Perception is king when things get as public as this did. I know for a fact; this topic comes up among players. Whether you’re a free agent or one that is already on the Chargers roster, having any doubts about the medical staff is not a good feeling.
Obviously, this takes time to overcome as a franchise and now this latest incident brings all that history back to light. Players' health and safety is on the top of everyone’s list- as it should be. As a GM, being able to use your own medical people for diagnoses, surgeries, rehabs are all part of running a successful organization. It definitely makes your job easier and allows for a smoother channel of communications when things stay in house. When players opt to go elsewhere for surgeries or treatment (which should obviously be their right), which happens some anyway, it makes each injury much tougher to manage from the team side. The players have to know and believe they are getting the best care and that their best interest is being served by a medical team that is both competent and independent of anyone’s agenda except theirs. This philosophy just became harder to sell for the Chargers- AGAIN.