Last night we finally got a full slate of NFL preseason games, which were as exciting as they always are. After one or two series, the starters hit the showers and the undrafted free agents and third-stringers fighting to keep their NFL dreams alive came in, including Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Matt Scott.
He actually played pretty well: Down by ten to the Kansas City Chiefs, Scott used his legs and his arm to drive the Bengals down the field. Then, before snapping the ball from the Chiefs 12-yard line, Scott paused and threw up a bunch through his facemask, splattering the Arrowhead grass with vomit. He collected himself, puked a little more, and threw a touchdown to the excellently named Conner Vernon.
Were this just a simple story of a nervous or sick guy trying to stick around in the league trying to execute a two-minute drill, this would be a fun story of a guy "leaving it all out on the field." But Matt Scott's been here before.
While at Arizona, Scott threw up twice, both times seemingly as a result of a head injury. In a 2012 game in Tucson against USC, Scott was kneed in the head by T.J. McDonald while sliding after a scramble. He vomited a bunch and even Matt Millen, who was providing color commentary, was able to see that Scott was fucked up by a concussion. (Vomiting and nausea are two of the most common signs of a brain injury.) Arizona won that game and Scott was heralded for his performance. Just goin' out there and throwin' the ol' pigskin around and winning ball games! Even if you can't remember what happened later!
His coaches said that he didn't have a concussion, but he did suffer one the next week against UCLA. So he got a week off before facing Utah on November 17, 2012. In that game Scott puked again while on the field. He hadn't been hit, so he might have still been dealing with the blows to the head he had received over the past few weeks. Jesus, what a sport.
I didn't watch the game, and it's not clear from the play-by-play available online whether Scott's head was hit during the course of the game. Maybe he was just nervous to be leading a touchdown drive in an NFL stadium after spending a year on the Jacksonville Jaguars' practice squad. If that's the case, ha ha, look at these pukin' QB! Common sense and Scott's injury history, however, suggest that this isn't the fun story it's being presented as by some media outlets.
We saw recently with the retirement of David Wilson from the New York Giants that NFL careers are short. Yes, a Peyton Manning or a [name a famous kicker] can play for a very long time, but most players are lucky to last a full season in the league. Matt Scott suffered some concussions in college, so his professional career was in danger before he played in his last game as a Wildcat. That's a shame from a purely aesthetic perspective: He seems like an exciting player, one who can make plays with his arm or legs, a Kaepernick lite. That's the style of play that gets fans off their feet, but it also makes them cover their mouths in shock and horror when the guy gets trucked in the open field and ends up doing a Bambi impression while regrouping back in the huddle. Losing exciting players makes the NFL as a whole less exciting. And seeing young players like Wilson, and maybe like Matt Scott, see their careers end because of these sorts of injuries is enough to make someone sick.
David Matthews doesn't believe in the boot-and-rally theory one bit. Follow him on Twitter.