Latest concussion could end Browns safety Pool's season, career

BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns safety Brodney Pool might face a decision on his NFL career after he sustained another concussion.

Pool, a starter and five-year veteran, suffered at least his fourth known concussion during the third quarter of Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Browns coach Eric Mangini said Pool wouldn't play this weekend against the San Diego Chargers and indicated that the safety's season could be over.

"It's not looking very positive," Mangini said Wednesday. "He's definitely not going to play this weekend, and there's a chance he won't be playing again this year."

Mangini said no decisions have been made about Pool's future beyond 2009.

"We haven't talked about the long term," the coach said. "That's a discussion for a later time period. You never want to have a conversation about injuries with anybody, but unfortunately it's something that is a reality, and it's never a fun conversation, but they are always important."

Mangini didn't say whether the Browns will place Pool on injured reserve. If so, Pool would be the fourth defensive starter to go on IR, joining Pro Bowl nose tackle Shaun Rogers and inside linebackers D'Qwell Jackson and Eric Barton.

Pool has started 10 games this season and 49 since the Browns selected him in the second round of the 2005 draft out of Oklahoma.

In Sunday's 16-7 loss to the Bengals, Pool was injured early in the second half, but Mangini wasn't sure how it happened. Pool walked off the field, was escorted to the locker room and didn't return to the sideline.

Pool's situation has many of his teammates concerned about his health -- and their own. With concussions a hot-button topic in the league, players are learning more about the dangers of head injuries and their lasting effects.

Browns linebacker David Bowens has seen a big change in the way teams are treating concussed players.

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"Early in my career, it was like, 'OK, he's got a concussion, can he count to three?' Now it's a big deal," Bowens said. "You see how the older players, how it's affected their lives post-career, and it is a serious issue. I think the awareness level has definitely heightened because of it, and the teams are taking better precautions. Safety issues regarding helmets, that's gone up. There's a lot of steps being taken."

Browns wide receiver Mike Furrey said he had a Tuesday conversation with former St. Louis Rams teammate Kurt Warner, who missed the Arizona Cardinals' game against the Tennessee Titans last weekend with post-concussion symptoms.

"I don't think anybody really has an understanding yet of the symptoms and why things are happening the way they're happening," Furrey said. "There's no answers."

Furrey said it's not uncommon for a player to lie to a team doctor to keep playing.

"When you're talking about a little headache throughout the week, you obviously feel like you're still going to be able to play on Sunday," he said. "But nobody knows the extremities of those headaches or the difference of a light one or a heavy one or not having any other symptoms, being nauseated and sick throughout the week.

"As a competitor, you want to keep playing, so obviously you probably would stretch the story just a little bit to get back on the field, and it's just the nature of any athlete that wants to play on Sundays."

Furrey, who could replace Pool at safety, said he briefly spoke with his injured teammate Monday.

"I haven't seen him since," Furrey said. "You know, it's crazy because you always look normal. Your pupils might be dilated a little bit, but that's the weirdest part. You feel normal, but you do an activity, you go out and run, and symptoms recur. They linger. It's not fun, but you feel good during the day, you feel like you can play."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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