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Edwards' injured head still in game

Trent Edwards said he'd prefer to put the concussion behind him. The media had other plans. A few of us pulled Edwards aside after he left the podium Wednesday and asked the Buffalo Bills quarterback for a little perspective.

"I'll say this," Edwards said. "I had an injury in college that put me in the ICU for five days and in the hospital for 10 days. It was a simple play. The defensive end came off the edge and hit my left quad. I thought my career might be in jeopardy."

That fluke quadriceps injury, which caused internal bleeding and required 60 stitches, ended Edwards' sophomore season at Stanford. Edwards said he was back on the field in eight weeks and didn't give the leg a second thought. So in his mind, he's been through a lot worse than a concussion.

"When you're talking about your head, it's a little different," he said. "But I've taken hard hits. It's part of the game. You accept it as part of the game. I think people want to see how you respond. That's how you tell how tough a person is, and how good the player actually is."

Edwards is fine. He went through a full practice Wednesday and he'll be the starter against the Chargers here Sunday. By all indications, there are no lingering effects from Adrian Wilson's hit, which knocked him out of the Arizona game two weeks ago with the first concussion of his football career.

Entering the draft, Edwards had a reputation as injury-prone. That's why he was there for the Bills in the third round. It's clear that he doesn't want the concussion to be an issue. He's determined to show his teammates, and the world, that he can bounce right back.

Does anyone doubt his ability to take a hit now? Edwards has stood in there and taken some brutal shots. There aren't many QBs who could have played on after taking that hit in Arizona.

Edwards showed an almost blithe indifference to the concussion issue. It was surprising, considering how bright and well-informed he is on most worldly matters. Someone told him Troy Aikman had 10 concussions in his career.

"It doesn't look like he has any side effects, does he?" Edwards said. "What are the long-term effects of them? Have you guys heard anything about them?"

Well, a lot of players have suffered from repeated blows to the head. Steve Young's career was cut short by concussions. So was Al Toon's, Merrill Hoge's, Ted Johnson's and Harry Carson's.

You haven't researched this in any great depth, Edwards was told. "Apparently, no," he said. "That's why I'm asking you guys. I'm a football player. I'm not a doctor here."

He's the hope of the future for an NFL team that hasn't been to the playoffs in nine years. Edwards is smart and mature beyond his years. But he has an NFL player's mentality, which requires an athlete to block out the physical dangers and submerge any latent fear.

Edwards said pamphlets on concussion were sitting at the players' lockers when they showed up early this week. The NFL has been more progressive on the issue, though the league refuses to acknowledge a link between concussions and long-term brain damage.

What would it avail Edwards to read studies that show football players are three times more susceptible to a concussion after the first? Or that athletes with three concussions are five times more at risk for early-onset Alzheimer's? He's a player. He accepts the risks.

"I remember vividly the first game after my quad injury," Edwards said. "I got hit and I didn't even think about it. Once I was healthy, I thought, 'This is what I do. I play football'. You get hit in football. If you think any differently, you're not going to be the player you should be."

-mail: jsullivan@buffnews.com

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