Injury Insider: Will Carroll on stingers

Prior to the A&M game, Colt McCoy's father told the press that his son was completely healed and would be fine to play in the game. To many of us, he certainly didn't look 100%, and his re-injury pretty much confirmed our suspicions. Well, Papa McCoy is back at it again, telling the press that his son should be fully healed by bowl time. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...

Well, we're just not gonna let that happen.

Rather than take the senior McCoy's word for it, I thought I'd get a little background information on stingers from one of sports' most prominent MedHeads - Will Carroll. I know Will from being a loooong time reader of Baseball Prospectus, the absolute leading voice of advanced baseball analysis. Will Carroll's been writing his "Under The Knife" column for years, and has parlayed that into recent work with Football Outsiders, and now ESPN.com.

Here's what Will was able to tell me about stinger injuries:

PB: Always good to chat with you, Will. I've thanked you before, but let me do it again: I owe at least two of my fantasy baseball titles directly to your 'Under The Knife' columns.

Will Carroll: Ha! Happy to hear it, though you have no idea how often people tell me that.

PB: Anyway, I know you're on vacation, so I'll keep this brief.

Did you see Colt McCoy's injury against Kansas State? Basically, McCoy plunged across the goal line on a quarterback sneak and got popped right in the helmet by a linebacker, causing the neck and shoulder to sort of retract back into his body. He left for the game.  He came back for the A&M contest, and looked hurt to me.  The coaches only said that he'd been "cleared to make all the throws he was cleared to make for Kansas State," but it was clear to me - just watching - that he was still hurt.  Then, of course, the Aggies pummeled him (and Texas), and he left the game once and for all on a stretcher.

Will Carroll: I didn't see the initial injury aside from highlights. Your description is pretty much how I remember it and that looked to me like he'd taken a pretty serious hit. Neck - and spinal - injuries are strange beasts and best left to the doctors, so I don't want to guess too much. What looks terrible is often nothing, and sadly, the reverse can be true as well.

PB: Can you tell us briefly what a stinger injury is?  What happens to the body in a stinger?  What kind of pain is it?

Will Carroll: A stinger is when the neck is stretched or compressed and the nerve that comes out of the spinal cord and goes down the arm is stressed. The reaction is one of quick, extreme pain, then often numbness or burning. It's sometimes called a "burner" and with names like that, you can pretty much guess how it feels. It can be serious, but tends to relieve itself quickly. Having these over and over can lead to chronic problems in the nerve.

PB: How does a football player recover from a stinger? Would the Texas coaches be wise to shut down Colt McCoy for the rest of this season?  Is this something he should be "fully recovered" from by the start of next season, as we're being told?

Will Carroll: Normally, there are few after effects - sometimes none. That's a tough question. If there was a game next week, I'd worry more than if he'd be ready by a bowl game. I'll leave this decision to the doctors, though. Texas has one of the best funded, most qualified medical staffs around. Let's just hope they remember that McCoy has a bright future, on and off the field.

PB: That's my hope, too.  Thanks, Will.  I won't take any more of your time.  Enjoy the RnR.

Will Carroll: Any time, Peter. Take care.

I think there was one thing that jumped out at me from Will's answers: "Having these [stinger injuries] over and over can lead to chronic problems in the nerve." (emphasis mine)  Well, Colt's had the problem twice in the last two games. How much more do we want to risk to win, what, the Cotton Bowl? Winning the bowl game would be really nice, but it's also not worth risking the future of McCoy, either.

Further, why not give Jevan the job for the bowl, allow him to prepare as the starter, and see what he can do? What's the downside? If Snead's awful and we lose, so what? We'd rather win, but it's not that big a deal. Louisville got beat in their bowl game last year; they've recovered just fine. Why not let Jevan play and see what he's capable of? Maybe he thinks a little harder about transferring. Depth at quarterback is a luxury, not something to be taken for granted, or casually dismissed.

Even if McCoy "feels" 100%, and even if the doctors give a green light for him to play, I think I'm in favor of shutting him down for the season. He'll have plenty of opportunities to regain his confidence when he's fully healed. Like, say, against our pathetic schedule next year.

I think my mind is made up: Shut him down.

--PB--

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