Chris Cooley: How It Sounds When You Get 'Concussed'

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The Redskins' tight end Chris Cooley has been one of the few bright spots for those who've been interested in the team during the deplorable Dan Snyder era. He's good at his job, he's funny and personable, he has a colorful "back story," and he's extra popular in our household because he looks like one of our relatives. He's always making appearances, including for an hour each week on the local sports-talk radio show.

Cooley missed most of the (disastrous) season last year with a bad leg fracture, and yesterday he was one of the too-large number of NFLers to have a concussion; he played on for a while but was then pulled from the game against the Colts. The injury may have come on this play (AP photo, source here):

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Cooley did his regular Monday stint on the LaVar & Dukes radio show this afternoon. I found the few minutes where he talked about being hurt to be surprisingly moving--and on the whole depressing. As a fan, I love to see Cooley play, because he breaks tackles and figures out ways to get in the clear, and of course he makes the team better. So I want him to get back out there. But in the five-minute segment you can get from this link, or by clicking the player widget below, you will hear someone working through, in real time, the balance between his he-man sports career of the moment and the damage he knows he could be doing to himself. It reminds me of news footage of injured soldiers about to go back to the front--knowing what they're in for but not wanting to let their unit down.

I predict that if you start listening to this you will stay with it for the five minutes. You first hear the radio guy, Chad Dukes, saying that he can't really relate to "being concussed," unlike Cooley and Dukes's co-host, the great linebacker (and great talker) LaVar Arrington. He asks Cooley how he is, and it goes from there. Cooley talks about, among other things, having had "way worse" concussions before.The sadness comes from recognizing that these people really are getting badly hurt. Cooley says he's having a CAT scan tomorrow--but hopes to be back in the game on Sunday.  Worth hearing.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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