About the same time Chiefs fans unleashed a collective groan when it was determined that Jamaal Charles suffered a concussion during a 45-44 first-round loss to Colts, it turns out the team’s star running back was doing the exact same thing.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
“I was trying to get back on the field,” Charles said told KCSP (610 AM) on Tuesday. “I feel like I didn’t have a concussion. I kind of got (woozy), like a boxer. Just give me a 10 count and let me get back in the ring and let me fight again.”
The Chiefs obviously disagreed. Charles went down hard only six plays into the game and never returned.
“I started to get up and jog on the sideline and go up and down,” Charles said. “Next thing you know, they’re like ‘Let’s go to the locker room.’ And I went to the locker room and never came back out. I was mad about that but I can’t do anything about it. You know whats going in the NFL with the concussion stuff. You’ve just got to respect NFL rules.”
Indeed. A judge recently rejected a $765 million settlement of NFL concussion claims from past players, saying it was too low, and the Chiefs will soon be defending a workers compensation lawsuit filed by several former players related to the team’s handling of concussions.
Charles, however, said he did all he could to return to the game (you can listen to the entire interview here).
“I tried (to talk my way back into the game),” Charles said. “But it was on national TV, they saw me get a little woozy. Once they saw that right there, they told me no.
“I feel like when somebody wants to play, let them play. (But) they’re protecting players and the team. They had to do what they had to do.”
Charles, who carried the ball three times for 18 yards against the Colts, said he had no doubt he would have made a difference in the outcome.
“I feel like I was about to go out there and carry my team,” Charles said. “The way it started, I felt like I was in my zone.”
Charles, 27, was also asked about his contract situation. He is currently signed through 2015 and has a modest cap number of $4.8 million in 2014. It rises to $7.3 million in 2015, but after his monster 2013 season — in which he led the Chiefs in rushing, receiving and touchdowns — his current deal is the definition of a bargain.
“I can’t really speak on contract stuff, man,” Charles said. “I’m just happy to be part of the Chiefs, man. I want to retire a Chief. Let’s keep it like that. I’m just letting the business side handle the business side and all I can do is go out there and play football like I do every Sunday.”
If Charles is hinting that the Chiefs are exploring a contract extension with him — and I’ve heard rumblings that might be the case — that’s probably a smart move. Not only could the team save money up front by reducing his cap number in 2014 — the cap situation for this year isn’t great, by the way — they could also reward their best player with a contract befitting his talents and lock him up with a deal that would keep him in a Chiefs uniform for a few more years. As it stands, Charles will be 29 when he becomes a free agent in 2016.
Now, running backs typically fall off at age 30, so the Chiefs could also let him play out his very reasonable contract and franchise him that summer, ensuring that he’ll spend every season in his 20s with the Chiefs. And remember, the Chiefs invested a third-round pick in Knile Davis last year and he showed some real flashes this season.
But it might be wise to take care of a valued player and leader and not only avoid a holdout, but also the bitter feelings that come with a contract dispute. I’m not sure the distraction that would come with playing hardball with their best player would be worth the money the Chiefs stand to save. In other words, if they want to take care of quarterback Alex Smith — and they do — it makes sense for them to want to do the same with the superior player in Charles.